Estuarine research unit

Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research

Research expertise and capabilities

Our group has unparalleled experience in designing and implementing scientific studies to assist in the mangement of estuaries across south-western Australia and beyond. Our main areas of research include:

  • Estuarine ecology
  • Estuarine fish communities
  • Benthic macroinvertebrate communities
  • Habitat classification
  • Science for estuarine management
  • Assessing and monitoring estuarine health
  • Food webs and trophic studies

View our research capability statement here 

We work closely with government agencies and community groups to help to better understand and manage our precious estuarine ecosystems.

Our broad expertise and research experience is underpinned by our strong collaborations with, among others, Prof. Bob Clarke (Plymouth Marine Labs and PRIMER-E), Prof. Richard Warwick (Plymouth Marine Labs), Swan River Trust, WA Departments of Water and Fisheries, local Catchment Councils, WAMSI. 




Current / recently completed projects

Invasive fish species in the Vasse-Wonnerup RAMSAR wetland, estuary and rivers

The Freshwater Fish Group and Fish Health Unit, in collaboration with our Estuarine Research Group, secured a major grant from the Federal Government’s Caring For Our Country program to undertake a comprehensive fish survey in the Vasse-Wonnerup Ramsar wetland system and its rivers. The study aims to identify pest species hotspots, prioritise the threats posed by those species and undertake control programs to reduce their ecological impact. Read more...



Decadal changes in the benthic community of the Swan and Canning Rivers
This project, in conjunction with UWA, aims to quantify the changes which have occurred over the last 15 years in the benthic condition of the Swan and Canning Rivers, as evidenced by changes in their BMI communities.  



Validation of the Estuarine Health Index and development of an annual monitoring regime for the Swan Estuary

This study, completed in October 2011, tested and validated the Fish Community Index which has been developed for assessing the health of the Swan Estuary, and established a future monitoring regime for tracking the health of this system over time. Annual monitoring using these indices has been conducted since 2012. Read more...

Monitoring the effects of artificial oxygenation on macroinvertebrate fauna

This project, from 2010 to 2012, involved monthly monitoring of benthic macroinvertebrate communities along the Swan River, to determine the effects of artificial oxygenation plants on the benthic macrofauna. Sampling for this project was completed in December 2011 and reports and a scientific paper have been submitted. Read more...


Broke Inlet - a near pristine estuary on the south coast of WA

James Tweedley's PhD research focused on mapping and predicting the fish and benthic macroinvertebrate communities of this beautiful ecosystem, the only near-pristine estuary between Shark Bay and the SA border. Read more...

Development of biotic indices for establishing and monitoring ecosystem health of the Swan-Canning Estuary

This project, which aimed to develop a range of tools for assessing and monitoring the health of the Swan Estuary, including a fish-based, multimetric Fish Community Index, has now been completed. Read more... 


Long-term comparisons of estuarine fish communities

Lauren Veale, Peter Coulson and Steeg Hoeksema have completed a project, funded by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution, to identify long-term changes in the fish faunas of the Peel-Harvey Estuary and Leschenault Inlet.  Some of the results from this study have now been published (see here).














Student Opportunities

We regularly have exciting opportunities for
Honours and PhD students.
For more details,
click here...

Latest news

  • Local news features on our estuarine research
  • See some of our posters and presentations from the recent Swan River Trust Forum
  • Our fish-based indicators have again been implemented to assess the health of the Swan Estuary, WA, during 2014 and 2015.
  • Several members of our group recently presented their research at the Australian Marine Sciences Association conference in Fremantle
  • In April 2011, James Tweedley and Fiona Valesini attended the Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association (ECSA) conference in South Africa

Contact us

Dr Fiona Valesini

Dr James Tweedley

Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research

Murdoch University

South Street, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150