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Current Work

Although I maintain a broad interest in aquatic ecology, much of my basic research has focused on the sources and fate of energy and nutrients in stream and river ecosystems. I am particularly interested in understanding terrestrial-aquatic linkages and the relative importance of aquatic and terrestrial sources of organic carbon in aquatic and riparian food webs. Most recently, this has explored the importance of floodplain subsidies to river food webs in tropical river systems in northern Australia.

I have an ongoing interest in the influence of flow regimes on aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem processes in rivers. Much of this work has been undertaken as part of an international effort in environmental flow research, but I have also been actively involved in the technical assessment of environmental flow needs for water management plans in Australia and, more recently, in China.

I also maintain an active interest in the science to underpin the assessment of aquatic ecosystem health. This includes the development of ecosystem health monitoring programs for freshwaters in Australia, but also overseas (e.g. in China and most recently in PNG). I also have a broad interest on the effects of land use on ecosystem health and biodiversity in streams and rivers.

Related Media Items


Expertise Keywords

  • Application of multiple stable isotope tracing in the study of aquatic ecosystems
  • Aquatic ecology - freshwater
  • Aquatic ecosystems
  • Aquatic invertebrates
  • Benthic community ecology
  • Development & application of cost-effective methods to assess aquatic ecosystem health
  • Pattern of energy and nutrient flux in aquatic ecosystems
  • River / estuarine ecology
  • Structure of aquatic food webs
  • freshwater

Subject Area Codes

  • Ecological Applications
  • Ecosystem Function
  • Environmental Science and Management
  • Freshwater Ecology

Country Affiliations

  • Canada
  • China
  • Papua New Guinea
  • United States

Research Publications and Outputs

Recent Publications

Publications: 267 (Other: 267)

Funded Griffith Research

Engagement and Impact

Learning and Teaching

Research by Higher Degree Supervision or Scholarship

Theses Supervised at Griffith



Professor Bunn is the Director of the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. His major research interests are in the ecology of river and wetland systems with a particular focus on the science to underpin river management.

This work has resulted in over 200 technical publications, most of which are refereed journal papers and conference proceedings. Professor Bunn has extensive experience working with international and Australian government agencies on water resource management issues. From 2008-2012, he was appointed as an Australian National Water Commissioner and has previously served as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Forum and as a Director of Land and Water Australia. He is currently Chair of the Executive Scientific Advisory Committee for the Healthy Waterways Partnership and is a member of the Advisory Committee for Social, Economic and Environment Science for the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, and the Threatened Species Scientific Committee for the Australian Department of Environment.

Education and Training

  • PhD Doctor of Philosophy, University of Western Australia 1981 - 1995
  • BScHons Bachelor Of Science With Honours, University of Western Australia 1976 - 1980

Academic experience

  • Director, Australian Rivers Institute, 2006 - Present
  • Professor in Ecology, 1999 - Present
  • Director, Centre for Riverine Landscapes, 2003 - 2006
  • Director, Centre for Catchment & In-Stream Research, 1996 - 2002
  • Associate Professor in Ecology, 1998 - 1999
  • Senior Lecturer in Ecology, 1995 - 1997
  • Lecturer in Ecology, 1988 - 1994
  • Postdoctoral Fellow and Sessional Lecturer, University of Waterloo 1986 - 1987
  • Research Officer, University of W.A. 1985 - 1986
  • Part-time tutor/demonstrator in Zoology, University of W.A. 1980 - 1984
  • Field Assistant, Alcoa of Australia Ltd 1979 - 1980

Awards and Honours

  • Honorary Member Award, Ecological Society of America 2015 - 2015
  • Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists, Chinese Academy of Sciences 2011 - 2012
  • Research Excellence Award (Research Leadership), Griffith University, Science, Environment, Engineering and Technology 2010 - 2010
  • Healthy Waterways Science Award, Healthy Waterways Partnership 2001 - 2001
  • Queensland Landcare Research Award, Queensland Landcare 1997 - 1997

Professional experience

  • Writing team, International Water Quality Guidelines for Aquatic Ecosystems, UNEP 2013 - Present
  • Technical Director, River health and environmental flows in China Project, Australian Government (AusAid) 2007 - 2012
  • Strickland River: monitoring review and report card, Porgera Environmental Advisory Komittee 2004 - 2010
  • Review of EIS and supplementary materials on proposed Traveston Crossing Dam, Commonwealth Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008 - 2009
  • Consultant, Tully-Millstream Hydroelectric Scheme, Queensland Electricity Commission 1990 - 1991
  • Consultant, RAC Inquiry: Kakadu Conservation Zone, Commonwealth Department of Environment 1990 - 1990

Internal service roles

  • Member, Research Committee, Griffith Sciences 2005 - Present
  • Member, Group Board, Griffith Sciences 2005 - Present
  • Member, Research Advisory Board, Faculty of Environmental Sciences 2005 - 2006
  • Member, Research Centres Implementation Group, 2003 - 2004
  • Member, School Committee, School of Environmental Sciences 1997 - 2000
  • Member, Tertiary Studies Preparation Program Advisory Committee, 1990 - 1998
  • Member, Management Committee, School of Environment Science 1995 - 1996
  • Member, Site Planning Committee, 1991 - 1999
  • Member, Standing Committee, School of Australian Environmental Studies 1990 - 1991
  • Member, Recruitment and Equity Committee, 1989 - 1991
  • Member, Admissions Committee, School of Australian Environmental Studies 1989 - 1991
  • Member, Safety Committee, School of Australian Environmental Studies 1988 - 1989

External service roles

  • Science Patron, Wetland Care Australia 2012 - Present
  • Member, Thiess International Riverprize Judging Panel, International Riverfoundation 2002 - Present
  • Member, International Riversymposium: Program Committee, International Riverfoundation 2011 - Present
  • Member, Water Accounting Development Committee, Australian Department of Environment and Water 2007 - 2008

Editorial roles

  • Speciality Editor: Freshwater systems, Frontiers in Environmental Science 2015 - Present
  • Special Subject Editor, Ecosystems 2013 - Present
  • Editorial Board, River Systems 2009 - Present
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Freshwater Ecology Series, University of California Press 2007 - 2012
  • Member, Editorial Board, Marine and Freshwater Research 1996 - 2003
  • Member, Editorial Board, Ecological Management and Restoration 1999 - 2005
  • Editor, Special Publications, Australian Society for Limnology 1989 - 1994

External advisory roles

  • Member, Threatened Species Scientific Committee, Australian Department of Environment 2014 - Present
  • Member, Advisory Committee for Social, Economic and Environmental Science, Murray-Darling Basin Authority 2012 - Present
  • Chair, Scientific Panel, Fitzroy Partnership for River Health 2015 - Present
  • Chair, Executive Science Advisory Committee, Healthy Waterways Partnership 2011 - Present
  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Panel, Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Council 2008 - 2011
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Panel, Lake Eyre Basin Ministerial Council 2001 - 2007
  • Chair, Scientific Expert Panel, Moreton Region Water Resource Planning, Healthy Waterways Partnership 2003 - 2008
  • Deputy Chair, Scientific Expert Panel, Healthy Waterways Partnership 1999 - 2010
  • Member, Scientific Committee for the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network, National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy 2006 - 2007
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Group, Brisbane River and Moreton Bay Wastewater Study 1997 - 1998

Professional memberships

  • SIL Member, International Society for Limnology
  • FSS Member, Freshwater Science Society
  • ESA Member - certified Senior Ecologist, since 2010, Ecological Society of America
  • ASLO Member, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
  • ISRS Member, International Society for River Science
  • ASL Member; President, 1991-92 and 2007-08, Australian Society for Limnology
  • ESA Australia Member, Ecological Society of Australia
  • QAAS Member, Queensland Academy of Art and Science

Government representation roles

  • Commissioner (Acting Chair, April-June 2012), National Water Commission 2008 - 2012
  • Board Director, Land and Water Australia 1999 - 2002