Prof Michael Douglas

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Professor Michael Douglas leads RIEL’s Freshwater Ecology and Management Theme.

Director, NERP Northern Australia Hub

Director, Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge Research Program (TRaCK)

Michael came to northern Australia in 1991 to do 2 years of field work for his PhD. Like many others intending to stay for a short time, he has been living in Darwin ever since!

During this period has been doing research on the ecology and management of tropical ecosystems. 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. In collaboration with Samantha Setterfield, he has also worked on the ecological impacts and management of exotic grasses in savanna ecosystems with a particular focus on Gamba grass.

Most of his research has been collaborative and he has had long-running partnerships with Monash University, Griffith University, the University of Western Australia and CSIRO. Much of his research has been focussed on management outcomes and has been done in collaboration with the Australian, Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australian Governments and regional NRM groups across northern Australia. 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.

He has been based at Charles Darwin University (CDU) since 1995 and was lecturing in ecology and environmental science until 2005. More recently he has focussed primarily on research and has played a key role in establishing and leading large collaborative research initiatives. Since 2006 he has been the Director of TRaCK - the Tropical Rivers and Coastal Knowledge program and in 2011 he became the Director of the NERP Northern Australia Hub - one of only five research hubs established under the National Environmental Research Program.

Year Type Citation
In Press Journal Article Pettit, N. E. et al. Dynamics of in-stream wood and its importance as fish habitat in a large tropical floodplain river. River Research and Applications (In Press).
2014 Journal Article Dale, A. P. et al. Catchment-scale governance in Northern Australia: A preliminary evaluation. Journal of Economic and Social Policy 16, (2014).
2013 Journal Article WARFE, D. A. N. I. E. L. L. E. M. et al. Productivity, Disturbance and Ecosystem Size Have No Influence on Food Chain Length in Seasonally Connected Rivers. PLoS ONE 8, e66240 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Setterfield, S. A. et al. Adding Fuel to the Fire: The Impacts of Non-Native Grass Invasion on Fire Management at a Regional Scale. PLoS ONE 8, e59144 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Catford, J. A. et al. Predicting Novel Riparian Ecosystems in a Changing Climate. Ecosystems 16, 382 - 400 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Capon, S. J. et al. Riparian Ecosystems in the 21st Century: Hotspots for Climate Change Adaptation?. Ecosystems 16, 359 - 381 (2013).
2012 Journal Article Jardine, T. D. et al. Consumer-resource coupling in wet-dry tropical rivers. Journal of Animal Ecology 81, 310-322 (2012).
2012 Journal Article Townsend, S. A., Garcia, E. A. & Douglas, M. M. The response of benthic algal biomass to nutrient addition over a range of current speeds in an oligotrophic river. Freshwater Science 31, 1233 - 1243 (2012).
2012 Journal Article WARFE, D. A. N. I. E. L. L. E. M. et al. Hydrological connectivity structures concordant plant and animal assemblages according to niche rather than dispersal processes. Freshwater Biology 58, 292 - 305 (2012).
2011 Book Chapter Douglas, M. M. et al. (CDU Press, 2011).
2011 Book Chapter Garcia, E. A. et al. (Pusey, B. J.) 51-70 (CDU Press, 2011).
2011 Journal Article Laurance, W. F. et al. The 10 Australian ecosystems most vulnerable to tipping points. Biological Conservation 144, 1472-1480 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Warfe, D. M. et al. The "wet-dry" in the wet-dry tropics drives river ecosystem structure and processes in northern Australia. Freshwater Biology 56, 2169-2195 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Pettit, N. E. et al. Seasonal contrasts in carbon resources and ecological processes on a tropical floodplain. Freshwater Biology 56, 1047-1064 (2011).
2011 Book Chapter Jardine, T. D. et al. Aquatic Biodiversity in Northern Australia: patterns, threats and future. (Pusey, B. J.) 23-35 (Charles Darwin University Press, 2011).
2011 Book Chapter Pusey, B. J. et al. Aquatic Biodiversity in Northern Australia: patterns, threats and future. (Pusey, B. J.) 151-172 (Charles Darwin University Press, 2011).
2010 Journal Article Scott, K. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M. & Andersen, A. N. Fire tolerance of perennial grass tussocks in a savanna woodland. Austral Ecology 35, 858-861 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Setterfield, S. A., Setterfield, S. A., Ferdinands, K., Rossiter, N. A. & Douglas, M. M. The Northern Territory's Weed Risk Management system an application of the national post-border WRM protocol. Plant Protection Quarterly 25, 71-74 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Setterfield, S. A., Rossiter, N. A., Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B., Douglas, M. M. & Williams, R. J. Turning up the heat: the impacts of Andropogon gayanus (gamba grass) invasion on fire behaviour in northern Australian savannas. Diversity and Distributions 16, 854-861. (2010).
2010 Journal Article Scott, K. A., Setterfield, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. Environmental factors influencing the establishment, height and fecundity of the annual grass Sorghum intrans in an Australian tropical savanna. Journal of Tropical Ecology 26, 313-322 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Petty, A. M. & Douglas, M. M. Scale relationships and linkages between woody vegetation communities along a large tropical floodplain river, north Australia. Journal of Tropical Ecology 26, 79 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Scott, K. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M. & Andersen, A. N. Soil seed banks confer resilience to savanna grass-layer plants during seasonal disturbance. Acta Oecologica 36 , 202 - 210 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Brooks, K. J., Setterfield, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. Exotic Grass Invasions: Applying a Conceptual Framework to the Dynamics of Degradation and Restoration in Australia’s Tropical Savannas. . Restoration Ecology Vol. 18, 188-197 (2010).
2009 Conference Paper Humphrey, C., McGuinness, K. A. & Douglas, M. M. Experimental design considerations for monitoring of macro-invertebrate communities in tropical seasonally-flowing streams. ASL Congress, Alice Springs (2009).
2009 Journal Article Rossiter, N. A. et al. Invasive Andropogon gayanus(gamba grass) is an ecosystem transformer of nitrogen relations in Australian savanna. Ecological Applications 19, 1546 - 1560 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Bixby, R., Benstead, J. P., Douglas, M. M. & Pringle, C. M. Relationships of stream algal community structure to catchment deforestation in eastern Madagascar. North American Benthological Society. Journal 28, 466 - 479 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Scott, K. A., Setterfield, S. A., Andersen, A. N. & Douglas, M. M. Correlates of grass-species composition in a savanna woodland in northern Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 57, 10 - 17 (2009).
2008 Journal Article Johansen, K., Phinn, S., Lowry, J. & Douglas, M. M. Quantifying indicators of riparian condition in Australian tropical savannas: integrating high spatial resolution imagery and field survey data. International Journal of Remote Sensing 29, 7003 - 7028 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Rossiter, N. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M., Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B. & Cook, G. D. Andropogon gayanus (Gamba Grass) Invasion Increases Fire-mediated Nitrogen Losses in the Tropical Savannas of Northern Australia. Ecosystems 11, 77 - 88 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Townsend, S. A., Schult, J. H., Douglas, M. M. & Skinner, S. Does the Redfield ratio infer nutrient limitation in the macroalga Spirogyra fluviatilis?. Freshwater Biology 53, 509 - 520 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Brooks, K. J., Setterfield, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. Exotic Grass Invasions: Applying a Conceptual Framework to the Dynamics of Degradation and Restoration in Australia's Tropical Savannas. Restoration Ecology 18, 188 - 197 (2008).
2007 Conference Paper Scott, K. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M. & Andersen, A. N. Influence of fire on the emergence of Sarga intrans seedlings in a north Australian tropical savanna. Proceedings of the 4th International Wildland Fire Conference 200 - 212 (Spanish Ministry of Environment, Madrid and Junta de Andalucia, Seville, 2007). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:6668>
2007 Journal Article Johansen, K., Phinn, S., Dixon, I., Douglas, M. M. & Lowry, J. Comparison of image and rapid field assessments of riparian zone condition in Australian tropical savannas. Forest Ecology and Management 240, 42 - 60 (2007).
2007 Book Chapter Jackson, S. & Douglas, M. M. Investing in Indigenous Natural Resource Management (Luckert, M. K., Campbell, B. M., Gorman, J. T. & Garnett, S. T.) 53 - 61 (CDU Press, 2007). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2704>
2006 Conference Paper Douglas, M. M. et al. Different weeds, different habitats, same effects: exotic grass invasion in tropical woodlands and wetlands. 15th Australian Weeds Conference: Managing Weeds in a Changing Climate (Preston, C., Watts, J. H. & Crossman, N. D.) 811 - 814 (Weed Management Society of South Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2312>
2006 Conference Paper Brooks, K. J., Setterfield, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. Seasonal timing of glyphosate application: impacts on native plant communities in a north Australian tropical savanna. 15th Australian Weeds Conference: Managing Weeds in a Changing Climate (Preston, C., Watts, J. H. & Crossman, N. D.) 223 - 226 (Weed Management Society of South Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2313>
2006 Conference Paper Townsend, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. A review of the impacts of fire on soil erosion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. 14th Conference of the International Soil Conservation Organization 1 - 5 (ISCO, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2446>
2006 Conference Paper Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M., Barratt, J. L. & Brooks, K. J. Reproductive phenology of Pennisetum pedicellatum. 15th Australian Weeds Conference: Managing Weeds in a Changing Climate (Preston, C., Watts, J. H. & Crossman, N. D.) 272 - 274 (Weed Management Society of South Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2314>
2006 Journal Article Dixon, I., Dowe, J., Douglas, M. M. & Burrows, D. Development and implementation of the Tropical Rapid Appraisal of Riparian Condition (TRARC) method. RipRap: River and Riparian Lands Management Newsletter 31, 44 - 46 (2006).
2006 Conference Paper Ferdinands, K., Douglas, M. M., Setterfield, S. A. & Barratt, J. L. Africanising the tropical woodlands: Canopy loss and tree death following gamba grass Andropogon gayanus invasion. 15th Australian Weeds Conference: Managing Weeds in a Changing Climate (Sindel, B. M. & Johnson, S. B.) 296 - 296 (Weed Management Society of South Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:6670>
2006 Journal Article Ramírez, A., Pringle, C. M. & Douglas, M. M. Temporal and spatial patterns in stream physicochemistry and insect assemblages in tropical lowland streams. North American Benthological Society. Journal 25, 108 - 125 (2006).
2006 Conference Paper Rossiter, N. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M., Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B. & Cook, G. D. The impact of exotic grass invasions on nitrogen cycling: a mini-review. 15th Australian Weeds Conference: Managing Weeds in a Changing Climate (Preston, C., Watts, J. H. & Crossman, N. D.) 815 - 818 (Weed Management Society of South Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2311>
2006 Book Dixon, I., Douglas, M. M., Dowe, J. & Burrows, D. Tropical Rapid Appraisal of Riparian Condition: Version 1 (for use in tropical savannas). (Land and Water Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2398>
2006 Conference Paper Setterfield, S. A. et al. A weed risk management system for the Northern Territory. 15th Australian Weeds Conference: Managing Weeds in a Changing Climate (Preston, C., Watts, J. H. & Crossman, N. D.) 699 - 702 (Weed Management Society of South Australia, 2006). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2310>
2005 Journal Article Douglas, M. M., Bunn, S. E. & Davies, P. M. River and wetland food webs in Australia's wet-dry tropics: general principles and implications for management. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 329 - 342 (2005).
2005 Journal Article Flores, T. A., Setterfield, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. Seedling recruitment of the exotic grass Andropogon gayanus (Poaceae) in northern Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 53, 243 - 249 (2005).
2005 Conference Paper Townsend, S. A., Dostine, P. L., Dixon, I., Karfs, R. & Douglas, M. M. The response of stream macro-invertebrate communities to catchment clearing and riparian condition in the Darwin region (Tropical Australia). 4th Australian Stream Management Conference (Rutherford, I. D., Wiszniewski, I., Askey-Doran, M. A. & Glazik, R.) 618 - 622 (Dept of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, 2005). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1801>
2005 Conference Paper Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M., Rossiter, N. A. & Barrett, J. Ecohydrological impacts of invasive grasses on tropical savanna in north Australia. Annual Conference of the Ecological Society of Australia (2005). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:6750>
2005 Journal Article Douglas, M. M. Ecosystem processes in tropical rivers: conceptual models and future R&D. RipRap: River and Riparian Lands Management Newsletter 28, 13 - 14 (2005).
2005 Journal Article Andersen, A. N. et al. Fire frequency and biodiversity conservation in Australian tropical savannas: implications from the Kapalga fire experiment. Austral Ecology 30, 155 - 167 (2005).
2005 Conference Paper Douglas, M. M. & Setterfield, S. A. Impacts of exotic tropical grasses: Lessons from gamba grass in the Northern Territory. 8th Queensland Weed Symposium (Vogler, W.) 69 - 73 (Queensland Weeds Society, 2005). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:2053>
2005 Journal Article Douglas, M. M., Pusey, B. J., Kennard, M. J. & Jackson, S. Water regime dependence of fish in the wet-dry tropics. RipRap: River and Riparian Lands Management Newsletter 29, 10 - 12 (2005).
2005 Journal Article Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M., Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B. & Welch, M. A. Effects of canopy cover and ground disturbance on establishment of an invasive grass in an Australia savanna. Biotropica 37, 25 - 31 (2005).
2005 Journal Article Dixon, I., Dowe, J. & Douglas, M. M. Assessing riparian health in tropical savannas. Australian Landcare March, 30 (2005).
2005 Conference Paper Dixon, I., Douglas, M. M., Dowe, J., Burrows, D. & Townsend, S. A. A rapid method for assessing the condition of Riparian zones in the wet/dry tropics of Northern Australia. 4th Australian Stream Management Conference (Rutherford, I. D., Wiszniewski, I., MA, A. - D. & Glazik, R.) 173 - 178 (Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, 2005). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1800>
2004 Journal Article Townsend, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. The effect of a wildfire on stream water quality and catchment water yield in a tropical savanna excluded from fire for 10 years (Kakadu National Park, North Australia). Water Research 38, 3051 - 3058 (2004).
2004 Journal Article Townsend, S. A., Douglas, M. M. & Setterfield, S. A. Catchment cover and stream water quality in an Australian tropical savanna: rapid recovery after a change to a less intense fire regime. Ecological Management and Restoration 5, 136 - 138 (2004).
2004 Conference Paper Rossiter, N. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M., Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B. & Cook, G. D. Exotic grass invasion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia: Ecosystem consequences. 14th Australian Weeds Conference (Sindel, B. M. & Johnson, S. B.) 168 - 171 (Weed Society of New South Wales, 2004). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1598>
2004 Journal Article Douglas, M. M. & O'Connor, R. A. Weed invasion changes fuel characteristics: Para Grass (Urochloa mutica (Forssk.) T.Q. Nguyen) on a tropical floodplain. Ecological Management and Restoration 5, 143 - 145 (2004).
2004 Conference Paper Setterfield, S. A., Bellairs, S. M., Douglas, M. M. & Calnan, T. Seed bank dynamics of two exotic grass species in Australia's northern savanna. 14th Australian Weeds Conference (Sindel, B. M. & Johnson, S. B.) 555 - 557 (Weed Society of New South Wales, 2004). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1626>
2004 Conference Paper Douglas, M. M. & O'Connor, R. A. Effects of para grass (Urochloa mutica (Forssk.) T.Q.Nguyen) invasion on terrestrial invertebrates of a tropical floodplain. 14th Australian Weeds Conference (Sindel, B. M. & Johnson, S. B.) 153 - 156 (Weed Society of New South Wales, 2004). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1599>
2004 Conference Paper Barratt, J. L., Douglas, M. M., Paynter, Q. & Ashley, M. Examining the impact of control over time on the seed bank of Mimosa pigra on Top End, Australia floodplains. 3rd International Symposium on the Management of Mimosa pigra (Julien, M. et al.) 149 - 153 (CSIRO Publishing, 2004). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1601>
2004 Conference Paper Douglas, M. M., Setterfield, S. A., Rossiter, N. A., Barratt, J. L. & Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B. Effects of mission grass (Pennisetum polystachion L.Schult.) invasion on fuel loads and nitrogen availability in a northern Australia tropical savanna. 14th Australian Weeds Conference (Sindel, B. M. & Johnson, S. B.) 179 - 181 (Weed Society of New South Wales, 2004). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1540>
2003 Journal Article Benstead, J. P., Douglas, M. M. & Pringle, C. M. Relationships of stream invertebrate communities to deforestation in eastern Madagascar. Ecological Applications 13, 1473 - 1490 (2003).
2003 Journal Article Douglas, M. M. & O'Connor, R. A. Effects of the exotic macrophyte, para grass (Urochloa mutica), on benthic and epiphytic macroinvertebrates of a tropical floodplain. Freshwater Biology 48, 962 - 971 (2003).
2003 Book Chapter Douglas, M. M., Townsend, S. A. & Lake, P. Fire in Tropical Savannas: The Kapalga Experiment (Andersen, A. N., Cook, G. D. & Williams, R. J.) 169, 59 - 78 (Springer Publishing Company, 2003).
2003 Journal Article Rossiter, N. A., Setterfield, S. A., Douglas, M. M. & Assoc Prof Hutley, L. B. Testing the grass-fire cycle: alien grass invasion in the tropical savannas of northern Australia. Diversity and Distributions 9, 169 - 176 (2003).
2001 Conference Proceedings Myers, B. A., McKaige, M. E., Whitehead, P. J. & Douglas, M. M. Wise Use of Wetlands in Northern Australia: Grazing Management in Wetlands and Riparian Habitats. Proceedings of a workshop held at NTU (2001).
2000 Journal Article Townsend, S. A. & Douglas, M. M. The effect of three fire regimes on stream water quality, water yield and export coefficients in a tropical savanna (northern Australia). Journal of Hydrology 229, 118 - 137 (2000).
1998 Conference Paper Douglas, M. M., Finlayson, C. M. & Storrs, M. Weed management in tropical wetlands of the Northern Territory, Australia. Wetlands in a Dry Land: Understanding for Management (Williams, W. D.) 239 - 252 (Environment Australia, 1998). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:1177>

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