ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Environmental Water

While this theme is the platform for the Institute's two major environmental water monitoring projects, and related projects, in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool and the Murrumbidgee river systems, it is also home for the Institute-based  Fish Ecology Collaborative Research Unit,  and other fish ecology and irrigation technology projects. Past, current, emerging and potential research areas include wetland inventory and assessment, ecological indicators, ecology of aquatic biota, ecosystem response to dam and fishway management, aquatic chemistry, adaptive management and riverine ecosystem process. Social, cultural and institutional arrangements for river and wetland management also feature in this theme.

  • Current Projects
  • Completed Projects
  • Higher Degree Research
  • Research Activities

Current Projects

Basin-scale Evaluation and Research Services. Stage 2. Wassens S., Baumgartner, L. (2020-2022) CEWO with University of Canberra lead organisation. UC, $101,750 ,CSIRO, $72,727. Total $174,477 Project details

Cohuna fish Screen Assessment, Baumgartner, L., Bretzel, J. (PhD student) (2021-2022) North Central Catchment Management Authority, $19,999 Project details

DPIE waterbird monitoring project. Wassens, S. (2020-2021), NSW DPIE

Koondrook-Perricoota floodplain carbon sources. Watts, R., Liu, X., McCasker, N., & Doran, G. (2020-2021) Forestry Corporation of NSW, $79,273

Monitoring, Evaluation and Research – Murrumbidgee. Wassens, S., Hall, A. (2019-2022), CEWO Project webpage FlowMER Webpage

Monitoring, Evaluation and Research – Edward/Kolety-Wakool. Watts, R., Howitt, J., McCasker, N., Liu, X. & Trethewie, J.  (2019-2022) CEWO, $3.15M Project webpage FlowMER webpage

Research Project 1: Optimised models for improved water management. Wassens, S., Bino, G. (UNSW), Hall, A. (2020-2021) CEWO, Murrumbidgee MER project

River Murray Channel productivity Monitoring 2020-2021. Watts, R., Liu, X. (2020-2021) MDBA. Led by CSIRO, $48,051

Vegetation and wetland assets benchmarking project. Wassens, S., Hardwick, L., Hall, A. & Poynter, C. (CSU SPAN) (2019-2021) CEWO, Contingency Funding from the Murrumbidgee MER project. Project details

Completed Projects

ANDS Collection Enhancement Project.  Finlayson, M. (2017) Monash University ($30,000)

Automated call records to evaluate frog responses to environmental watering. Wassens, S., Hall, A., Nimmo, D. & Walcott, A.(2016-2017) Department of Environment & Climate Change, $30,000

Basal Food Resources. Watts, R., Liu, X.  (2019-2020) NSW Department of Industry, $32,735

Basin-scale Evaluation and Research Services. Stage 1. Wassens, S., Baumgartner, L., Watts, R. Keller, K.   (2019) Lead organisation CSIRO.  ILWS sub-contract $41,418 Project details

Billabong-Yanco Creek Wetland Monitoring Project. Wassens, S., Wilson, B., Walcott, A., Hall, A. & Wolfenden, B. (2017-2018) Murray LLS, $80,218 Project details

Contribution of Koondrook-Perricoota floodplain runoff to the productivity of the Wakool River. Watts, R. & Liu, X.  (2019-2020), Forestry Corporation NSW, $39,610 Project details

Complementary measures for native fish.  Baumgartner, L. (2017) CSIRO/Murray-Darling Basin Authority. $33,000

Developing design guidelines for diversion screens that save native fish and enhance agricultural productivity. Baumgartner, L., Doyle, K. (2018-2020) Ian Potter Foundation, $299,331 Project details

Ecological assessment of the status of the Southern Bell Frog and Sloane's froglet in Mywurlie station, One Tree NSW. Wassens, S., Knight, A., Walcott, A. & Heard, G. (2017-2018) Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd, $46,948. Project details

EWKR food web fish community trophic dynamics. Kopf, R. (2018-2019) CEWO via MDFRC, $40,000 Project details

Environmental Monitoring and Training for Aboriginal Communities. Wassens, S., Allan, C., Whitsed, R. & Bond, J. (2017-2018) NSW OEH, $20,000 Project details

Environmentally sustainable irrigation solutions for the Murray-Darling Basin.  Baumgartner, L.  (2017) Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering-Global Connections Fund – Bridging Grant, $49,966

Environmental water requirements of freshwater mussels in the northern basin. McCasker, N., Humphries, P. (2020) CEWO, $20,000. Project led by Griffith University. Project details

Fishing for answers: Unlocking spawning and recruitment for Murray-Darling recreational species.. Baumgartner, L., Doyle, K., Silva, L., Thiem, J. (2016-2020) Recreational Fishing Trust. $100,000 Project details

Frog community in creek and drought refuge habitats of the Yanco Creek system. Wassens, S., Turner, A. (2019-2020) Yanco Creek and Tributaries Advisory Council, $29,240  Final Report

Golden perch breeding dynamics in floodplain wetlands.  Stage 1. Wassens, S. & Whiterod, N. (Aquasave) (2020) CEWO Project details

In search of the elusive Mekong salmon. Baumgartner, L. & Vu. V.A. (PhD student), (2016-2020) National Geographic Society Research Grant, $30,080 Project details

Koondrook-Perricoota Floodplain Runoff project. Watts, R., Howitt, J. (2016-2017) Forestry Corporation of NSW ($49,501), ILWS and CSU's Faculty of Science Project details

Long Term Intervention Monitoring project - Edward Wakool Selected Area. Stage 2. Watts, R., McCasker, N., Howitt, J., Kopf, R.K. with NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), Monash University (Water Studies Centre), Griffith University, NSW OEH, and Murray LLS. (2014-2019) CEWO, $3.36M   Project Webpage

Long Term Intervention Monitoring project-Murrumbidgee Selected Area. Stage 2.. Wassens, S., Hall, A., Wolfenden, B. with NSW Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries), University of NSW, Riverina LLS, and NSW OEH, (2014-2019) CEWO, $3.5M

Mitta Valley Southern Bell Frog Surveys 2019. Wassens, S., Turner, A. (2019-2020) Landcare Australia, $1498 Final Report

Monitoring ecosystem responses to Return Flows in the Koondrook-Pericoota Forest, Wolfenden, B., Jenkins, K. & McCasker, N. (2016-17) NSW DPI (Fisheries), $36,908

Monitoring productivity outcomes of the 2019 River Murray Channel multi-site water for the environment event. Watts,R., & Liu, X.  (2019-2020) MDBA through CSIRO, ILWS-sub contract, $39,196 Project details

Native and invasive fish dispersal, spawning and trophic dynamics during a managed river-floodplain connection.  Kopf, R., Wassens, S., &  Mc Phan, L. (2018-2019) CEWO, $236,787 Project details

Optimising acoustic monitoring for frogs in the Koondrook-Perricoota. Walcott, A., Hall, A., Wassens, S., Nimmo, D. (2018) Forestry Corporation of NSW $29,623 Project details

Phase 2: Ecological assessment of the status of the Southern bell frog and Sloane’s froglet in Mywurlie Station, One Tree, NSW. Knight, A., Wassens, S., & Heard, G. (2018-2019) Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd, $45,673 Project details

PIT tag data analysis project.  Huang, X., Baumgartner, L., and Li, J. (2018-2019) Karltek Pty Ltd., $25,000 Project details

Recovering the Lower Darling. Baumgartner, L. (2020) NSW DPI, $12,327

Recovery of native fish communities in the Murray-Darling Basin. Baumgartner, L. (2017) Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, $18,948.

Research activities for the Fish theme of the Environmental Water Knowledge Research (EWKR) project. Contract variation. Humphries, P. in collaboration with MDRFC (2017-2019) CEWO via MDRFC, $206,587. Project details

Short Term Intervention Monitoring-waterbird and prey responses to inundation of the Western Lakes. Jenkins, K., Wolfenden, B. Wassens, S. (2016-2017) CEWO, $52,983

Stuffed Murray Cod in Pubs. Humphries, P., McCasker, N., Kopf, R.  & O'Connell, M. (PhD student), (2017-2020) MDBA Scholarship grant, $45,000 Project details

2016-2017 Murrumbidgee Bird Breeding Event.  Brandis, K. (UNSW), Spencer, J. (NSW OEH); Wassens, S. (2016-2017) CEWO, $142,191(Contract variation for the Murrumbidgee LTIM project)

Understanding historic fish populations in the Murray River. Humphries, P. (2015-2018) Murray Darling Basin Authority, $27,273

Vegetation Monitoring in the Colligen Creek System. Watts, R. (2015-2018) Murray Local Land Services, $70,000 Project details

Weir stratification and hypoxic water management. Wassens, S., Michael, D. & Baldwin, D. (2019) CEWO $38,728 Project details

Water, carbon & economics: resolving complex linkages for river health, Finlayson, C.M. (chief investigator) & Hatton MacDonald, D (CSIRO) (partner investigator) in an  ARC Linkage project led by Southern Cross University. (2013-2017)

Full list of Completed Projects

Current HDR Students

Inam Ahmed: Modelling in-stream hydraulics: Investigating the impact of scale. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Robyn Watts

Joachim Bretzel:  Advancing fish-protection screening at water diversions to support freshwater fish conservation in the Murray-Darling Basin  Supervisors Professor Lee Baumgartner, Adjunct Dr Craig Boys (NSW DPI)

Leia Rogers: Fish behaviour and ecology in native freshwater fish. Supervisors Dr Raf Friere and Dr Keller Kopf (ILWS Adjunct)

Lauren Stoot: Predicting the impacts of river development on fish movement and population connectivity: A case study on the Clarence River system Supervisors Professor Lee Baumgartner, Adjunct Dr Jason Thiem (NSW DPI).



Dale Campbell: The effects of hydroperiod on macroinvertebrate assemblages of temporary and permanent floodplain wetlands and how this relates to taphonomy and the palaeoecological record. Principal supervisor Dr Paul Humphries

Kendal Krause: The influence of exotic fish on an emerging zooplankton community: Impacts to zooplankton abundance and composition. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Skye Wassens

Matt O'Connell: Exploring the utility of taxidermy Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) as a historical record. Principal supervisor Dr Paul Humphries


Gayle Partridge: Climate change adaptation planning for internationally important wetlands (Masters) Supervisors  Dr Jen Bond and Adjunct Professor Max Finlayson


Dr Paul Kew: Adaptive Grid Refinement using the Generalized Finite Difference Method. Principal supervisor Dr Zhenquan Li (Jan)

Research Activities

As well undertaking externally funded research projects, ILWS members (including Adjunct members) are also engaged in research activities/projects that have either received internal funding from ILWS and/or CSU; are not managed by ILWS; or are non-funded but aligned with their research interests.
Examples under this theme include:

  • Murray River PIT Tagging. Baumgartner, L., McPherson, J. KarlTek Pty Ltd & Australasian Fish Passage Services (Adjunct Tim Marsden) (2020) MDBA, $17,693. Consultancy to PIT(Passive Integrated Transponder) tag native fish in the River Murray below Mildura.
  • effects of flooding on black box woodlands in North West Victoria
  • post-doc research on the historical ecology of Murray Cod
  • a glasshouse experiment to examine carbon and nutrient release and effects on dissolved oxygen (DO) following the inundation of different types of soils, grasses and crops from the Edward-Wakool floodplain
  • a volunteer international research collaboration investigating carbon emissions from dry wetlands and river sediments around the world