About

I have a deep interest in coastal landscape ecology and processes, in particular, urban ecology.  To achieve this requires cooperation and integration from a multidisciplinary team of scientists, managers and policy makers. 

My working career has focused on understanding fisheries sustainability, nutrient processes, landscape restoration, stormwater quality and quantity, geomorphic processes, erosion and sediment control, and contamination.

I believe that every opportunity to restore river systems should be taken, particularly those small actions which are often completed by community members: it is the accumulative impact of these which leads to the greatest achievements and success in protection and restoration. In doing this, I believe it is important to engage local partners (e.g. land holders, industry, indigenous groups, government agencies) to capture their values, build capacity/trust, and encourage community ownership of the project and to share in the success.

Teaching
  • MB3270: Coastal, Estuarine and Mangrove Ecosystems (Level 3; TSV)
  • MB5270: Coastal, Estuarine and Mangrove Ecosystems (Level 5; TSV)
Interests
Research
  • Aquatic ecology
Research Disciplines
Publications

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters
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ResearchOnline@JCU stores 39+ research outputs authored by Dr Nathan Waltham from 2012 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Department of Environment and Science - Smithsonian Fellowship Program

Coastal wetland restoration techniques and evaluation ready for up-scaling

Indicative Funding
$21,250 over 2 years
Summary
First component examines how fish move around floodplains that are impacted following land use conversions. The River herring (Chesapeake Bay) needs access to freshwater and the ocean; population numbers are low because of migration barriers (roads, degraded habitat, dams). The project will include a collaborative study with the Smithsonian Institute to understand how fish access critical habitat during life-stages. The river herring is analogous to the barramundi and mangrove jack in north Queensland: both are highly prized and migrate across catchments and floodplains between freshwater and ocean that have been modified following agricultural expansion and urban sprawl. The second involves investigating how catchment nutrients contribute to coastal hypoxia-fish kills. Like the GBR catchments, nutrient loads in Chesapeake Bay is worsening. The project will include collaborative research on coastal hypoxia and determining the susceptibility of coastal oyster reefs and fisheries to diseases and death (a topic of national interest following a large fish kill in Murray Darling Basin).
Investigators
Nathan Waltham (TropWATER)
Keywords
GBR catchments; river herring; wetland restoration; coastal hypoxia; coral reef restoration; coastal oyster reefs

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Scoping land use conversion options for high DIN risk, low-lying sugarcane areas in Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday region

Indicative Funding
$115,005 over 2 years
Summary
Water Quality Improvement Plans for most NRMs in the Great Barrier Reef catchments recognise that complete adoption of sugarcane best management practices will still not be sufficient to achieve the nitrogen load reductions required to meet the Great Barrier Reef Water Quality Guidelines. Thus additional options need to be considered like transitioning agricultural land to other uses. Here we aim to i) identify possible alternate land uses in coastal low-lying land, that has a high DIN loss; ii) quantify the economic costs of changing land use, and market mechanisms to incentivise this transition; and iii) explore benefits of land transition.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham and Jim Smart in collaboration with Jane Waterhouse, Syezlin Hasan, Chantal Saint Ange, Adrian Volders, Christina Buelow and Elodie Ledee (TropWATER and Griffith University)
Keywords
Wetlands; Water Quality; Nutrients; Sediment; Land Use; Restoration

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Coastal wetland systems repair across GBR catchments - values based causal framework validation

Indicative Funding
$136,000 over 2 years
Summary
Conservation and repair of the coastal wetland ecosystems' in the Great Barrier Reef catchments have come into focus following media converging on the point that the reef health and land use in catchments has been compromised. While on-ground wetland repair investment activities are underway, data to demonstrate water quality and biodiversity return for the investment is not available. Here we continue working with project partners, further contributing to change management practices, consolidate new project partnerships, and road test the Queensland Westland's Values Based Causal Framework using existing and new data.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham, Fernanda Adame and Christina Buelow (TropWATER and Griffith University)
Keywords
Nutrients; Sediment; Restoration; Wetlands; Water Quality; Land Use

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Evaluating the costs and benefits of agricultural land conversion to wetlands

Indicative Funding
$283,097 over 3 years
Summary
Government and private investors are increasingly interested in nitrogen reduction projects, particularly via conversion of land to wetlands. Investing in such projects requires understanding the environmental benefits to be accrued and cost-effectiveness. The best way to provide these data is to evaluate already constructed land-wetland conversion sites that resemble what future projects might look like. This project will collect data from previously completed land-wetland conversion sites, on construction and ongoing maintenance costs, and the water quality and biodiversity benefits. This project will generate explicit data for government and private investors to make informed decisions on future investments of this kind.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham in collaboration with Barry Butler, James Wallace, Christina Buelow, Jim Smart, Syezlin Hasan and Stephen Balcombe (TropWATER and Griffith University)
Keywords
Water Quality; Ecosystem Services; Wetlands; carbon marets; cane land; synthesis repair

North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation - Contract Research

NQBP & JCU Research & Monitoring Partnership - Seagrass and Coral Studies

Indicative Funding
$1,929,594 over 4 years
Summary
This project conducts long term assessments of seagrass and coral in the Ports of Mackay, Hay Point, Weipa and Abbott Point. The work forms part of a research and monitoring partnership between JCU and NQBP to monitor and assess marine environmental health within ports as well as support related research and education opportunities.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham in collaboration with James Whinney, Peter Ridd, Barry Butler, Tony Squires and Glenn Morgan (TropWATER and College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Marine Water Quality; Port Development; Research; Seagrass; Coral

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) - Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

Defining metrics of success for feral animal management in northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$170,400 over 4 years (administered by CSIRO)
Summary
Feral animals cause significant damage to aquatic ecosystems across northern Australia, affecting biodiversity, ecosystem function and Indigenous cultural values. Funding for feral animal control often focuses on a particular species, ignoring the iterative and cumulative impact of the feral animals. This project will determine the impact of feral animals (pigs, horses, cattle) across aquatic ecosystems in the context of regional and local feral animal control, local aspirations and government priorities. The project will work closely with the Aak Puul Gnangtam and Kalan Aboriginal Development Groups as they continue implementing feral animal abatement strategies across the Archer River catchment.
Investigators
Justin Perry, Pethie Lyons, Catherine Robinson, Eric Vanderduys, Dan Metcalfe, Nathan Waltham, Damien Burrows, J Marshal and Jason Schaffer (Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation, TropWATER, QLD Department of Science and Information Technology and Innovation)
Keywords
Feral Animals; Wetlands; Water Quality; system repair; Freshwater Turtles

Greening Australia Limited - Contract Research

Palm Creen Greening Australia wetlands

Indicative Funding
$31,547
Summary
Coastal wetlands are part of the broader Great Barrier Reef seascape and hold incredible environmental, cultural and economic value. This project will collect water quality and fish data to establish baseline conditions in Palm Creek, prior to coastal restoration works planned by industry partners. The outcomes of this survey and report will be presented to local community and will inform restoration decisions.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham, Antony Squires, Glenn Morgan and Barry Butler (TropWATER)
Keywords
tropical wetlands; Water Quality; Nutrients; Restoration; Fish

Torres Strait Regional Authority - Contract Research

Water Quality, eDNA and NRM Management Directions

Indicative Funding
$55,450 over 2 years
Summary
Water quality and the threat of invasive species continue to exist in the Torres Straits. This project will continue to provide research services to assist Torres Straits Regional Authority to track restoration and protection of freshwater and marine wetland habitats in the Torres Strait islands. A component of this project includes facilitating training and educational material for Land and Sea Ranger program.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham in collaboration with Christina Buelow and Cecilia Villacorta Rath (TropWATER)
Keywords
Torres Strait; Aquatic Habitat; Invasive Species; Environmental Monitoring; cane toads; eDNA

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Science evaluation of coastal wetland systems repair projects across GBR catchments

Indicative Funding
$371,932 over 3 years
Summary
There is a lack of scientific data to support and give surety that on-ground wetland repair investment achieve water quality and biodiversity returns in the GBR catchments. Most existing and future wetland improvement projects have the objective of reducing invasive aquatic weeks, improving water quality and increasing usable habitat and marine connectivity for aquatic species, however, scientific data evaluating the degree to which this actually happens is not available. This is particularly true for long-term impacts beyond the first few years of remedial management. Scientific data and long term evaluation methods are therefore particularly necessary to track the progress against broader program objectives, in particular those contained in a number of policies and planning documents.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham in collaboration with Ross Andrewartha, Laura Dunstan, David Sartori, Mike Ronan, Jacob Cassady, Bart Dryden, Fernanda Adame, Barry Butler, Buddy Cassady, James Wallace, Fazlul Karim, Brett Abbott, Michele Burford and Marcus Sheaves (TropWATER, Greening Australia, NQ Dry Tropics, Lower Burdekin Water, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Mungalla Aboriginal Business Corporation, Terrain Natural Resource Management (Wet Tropics), Griffith University, Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation and College of Science & Engineering)
Keywords
Wetlands; Biodiversity; Water Quality; Ecosystem Services; Ecology; GBR catchments

QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries - Tenders

Identification and Restoration of Intertidal Fish Nursery Habitat in the Baffle Catchment

Indicative Funding
$266,456 over 2 years
Summary
This project aims to identify high intertidal fish nursery habitat pools in the Baffle Drainage Basin (BDB), assess their value to fish, evaluate the current state of their functionality, prioritise pools for restoration and identify viable restoration solutions. By involving local stakeholders, local government, regional NRM and State Government scientists and managers, a network of users will gain an understanding of how these habitats function and can be restored, based upon this baseline research.
Investigators
Marcus Sheaves, Nathan Waltham, Martha Brians, Maria Zann and Janine Sheaves (College of Science & Engineering and TropWATER)
Keywords
Estuary; Intertidal; Salt Marsh; Wetlands; Mangroves

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Dissolved oxygen as a constraint for fish utilising mangrove forests.

Indicative Funding
$3,750
Summary
This project focuses on understanding how dissolved oxygen (DO) impacts mangrove fish utilisation. In heavily vegetated habitats like mangroves, DO undergoes complex changes brought about by biogeochemical demand. The extent of DO depletion depends on many environmental parameters such as tide, time or day or human activities. Substantial DO depletion could limit the value of mangroves as habitats for fish. Consequently, I aim to: (i) develop an understanding of DO dynamics in mangrove forests; (ii) identify environmental parameters that drive these fluctuations; (iii) investigate how depressed DO impacts fish assemblages and behaviour; and (iv) establish DO thresholds for five fish species occupying mangroves.
Investigators
Alexia Dubuc, Marcus Sheaves, Nathan Waltham and Ronnie Baker (College of Science & Engineering and TropWATER)
Keywords
Mangrove; Dissolved Oxygen; Fish; Australia; New Caledonia; Hypoxia

MMG Ltd - Contract Research

Dugald River Mine Pre-Baseline Limnology Assessment and Design

Indicative Funding
$1,671,240 over 8 years
Summary
This project covers completion of mine site recon and preliminary limnology assessment of local rivers within and adjacent to Dugald River mine site operation. The data collected during this pre-baseline assessment will be used in the design of a full baseline limnology survey, scheduled to be completed before mining operations commence. The full baseline survey will support the development of mine site closure targets.
Investigators
Nathan Waltham in collaboration with Barry Butler (TropWATER)
Keywords
Dugald River Mine; Freshwater Fish; Baseline; Limnology; Water and Sediment quality
Supervision

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

Current
  • Assessing the ecological function and services provided by coastal wetlands to better inform strategies for restoration (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Novel approach for the classification of habitats in tropical estuaries exposed to urban and industrial development (PhD , Primary Advisor)
Completed
  • Dissolved oxygen as a constraint for the structure of mangrove fish assemblages and their patterns of mangrove utilisation: A comparison between natural and disturbed mangrove ecosystems through the Australian and Caledonian coastlines. (2019, PhD , Secondary Advisor)
Data

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.

Collaboration

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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