TRaCK: Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge

Science and knowledge that governments, communities, industries for sustainable use of Australia's tropical rivers and estuaries

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas

Prof Michael Douglas
Director, TRaCK

Michael is the Director of TRaCK and leads the leads the Freshwater Ecology and Management Theme of the Research Institute of the Environment and Livelihoods at Charles Darwin University.

Most of his research has focussed on understanding the effects of catchment management practices including fire, weed, forestry and water management on freshwater ecosystems in Australia and overseas. He has studied a variety of freshwater ecosystems including tropical rivers, floodplains and riparian zones and has worked on aquatic invertebrate, fish, and plant communities and on the ecosystem processes that connect them, particularly food webs.

Michael has a strong focus on collaborative research, and he has had long-running partnerships with Monash University, Griffith University, the University of Western Australia and CSIRO. He works closely with the Australian, Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australian governments and regional NRM groups across northern Australia to help deliver management outcomes.

Recent research has also focussed on combining Indigenous knowledge and western science and has been done in collaboration with Traditional Owners from the Daly, Mitchell and Fitzroy Rivers.

In 2011 he became the Director of the Northern Australia Hub, one of only five research hubs established under the National Environmental Research Program, and in 2012 he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, which he is undertaking in the second half of 2012 in the U.S.A.

Phase 1 Projects

Outcomes The project provided a better understanding of Australia's tropical river food webs and an insight into how we might go about developing new economic enterprises in the north without cutting the critical connections that bind ecosystems together.  It also provided an improved capacity to predict the consequences of environmental changes such as global warming, and important river dependent industries such as fishing, tourism and agriculture on river functioning and biodiversity. With this knowledge, Government natural resource managers are better able to manage for the whole river rather than individual components – ensuring for example, that water allocation, assessment of new developments and park management, work together rather than in isolation. Natural resource groups and land managers are in a position to better target their efforts and resources to those species and ecosystem processes that are the most critical for river health. The implications for example, of removing an important species in the food chain or adding a new exotic species will become clearer.