Australian Society For Fish Biology

Angela Arthington

Emeritus Professor Arthington has had a long and distinguished academic career in freshwater research, mostly centred around the conservation of fish populations especially through the understanding and development of environmental flow concepts and frameworks.

Born in Mt Gambier, SA, in 1943, Angela moved to New Zealand shortly thereafter and gained a love for the environment from her father who was working in New Zealand Forests. Angela’s high school education culminated at Christchurch Girl’s High School where she sat her entrance exam for acceptance into Canterbury University. Angela completed her degree at Canterbury with first Class Honours in 1965 and was accepted into the PhD program in Entomology and Ecology at McGill University, Quebec, Canada. Her PhD on the biology and population dynamics of an apple orchid snail was completed in 1969. Angela came back to Australia undertaking teaching roles in the Department of Entomology at University of Queensland until gaining a lecturing position at Griffith University in the School of Australian Environmental Studies in 1975, which has been her academic home since.

Angela taught environmental sciences to the School (now School of environment) for many years and until recently into their Masters Programme. Angela became a senior lecturer in 1976, Associate Professor 1990, Professor in 1994, then following retirement Emeritus Professor in 2011. She was the founding director of the Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research, which eventually morphed into Australian Rivers Institute. Throughout her career Angela was known as a dedicated academic, highly supportive of her staff and students and always willing to provide advice and direction to early career staff and students.

Angela’s early biodiversity studies on freshwater lakes of coastal islands, south-east Queensland, led to the development of recovery plans for two threatened fishes, Pseudomugil mellis and Nannoperca oxleyana. Following this she began work on the ecology and impacts of alien species in Queensland, especially Gambusia holbrooki and the cichlid Oreochromis mossambicus, the Mozambique mouthbrooder. The highlight of that period was a meeting of the Global Invasive Species Program (GISP) Expert Consultation (2003) at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, and a ‘white paper’ on the problems of alien species in freshwater systems (“The effects of introduced tilapias on native biodiversity”).

Angela’s environmental flows research began in the early 1990s working with the Queensland Water Commission on the effects of a new dam on Barker-Barambah Creek near Murgon. Through the 1990s further studies on fish communities and flow regimes in Queensland’s coastal rivers were supported by LWRRDC, the Rainforest CRC and Queensland Government, producing a mass of basic data. In 2005, Pusey, Kennard and Arthington won the Whitley Medal for “Freshwater Fishes of North-Eastern Australia (CSIRO Publishing, 2004). Moving away from coastal rivers, Angela joined the Dryland Refugium Project funded by the Freshwater CRC to research patterns of fish diversity and recruitment in floodplain rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin. Research on floodplain rivers extended to the Wet Tropics (through Rainforest CRC and MTSRF grants), modelling the hydrology and ecology of remnant floodplain wetlands with CSIRO and JCU colleagues. River ecology and fish research contributed to several global environmental flow frameworks (DRIFT, ELOHA) and culminated in the: “Environmental Flows: Saving Rivers in the Third Millennium” (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2012). A Chinese translation is in progress. In 2015 Angela received the “Making a Difference Award” from the US Instream Flow Council during their annual Flows Conference in Portland.

During her career Angela supervised 20 PhDs, published two books, edited three Special Issues, and produced over 220 papers and book chapters, and numerous research and consultancy reports. She served on many advisory panels, including the Australian Water Research Advisory Council (AWRAC), LWRRDC, Land and Water Australia, the DIVERSITAS Freshwater Cross-cutting Network, EWSAP (advising the Commonwealth Environmental Water holder), the LEB Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) and the DEH Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development. She is now working as an Adjunct and Professor Emeritus in the Australian Rivers Institute at Griffith University, writing, editing, reviewing and mentoring and travelling to fulfil speaking engagements.

Angela’s publications will leave a lasting legacy for fish and flow research, with many being highly cited, and no doubt many to come.

Selected publications:

Arthington, A.H. (1991). The ecological and genetic impacts of introduced freshwater fishes in Australia. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 48:(Suppl. 1): 33-44.

Bunn, S.E. & A. H. Arthington (2002). Basic principles and consequences of altered hydrological regimes for aquatic biodiversity. Environmental Management 30: 492-507.

Arthington, A.H. & B.J. Pusey (2003).  Flow restoration and protection in Australian rivers.  River Research and Applications 19: 377-395.

Pusey, B.J. & A.H. Arthington (2003). Importance of the riparian zone to the conservation and management of freshwater fish: a review. Marine and Freshwater Research54: 1-16.

Pusey, B.J., M.J. Kennard & A.H. Arthington (2004).  Freshwater Fishes of North-Eastern Australia.  CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria. 684 pp.

Arthington, A.H., Balcombe, S.R., Wilson G.G., Thoms,, M.C. & J.C. Marshall (2005).  Spatial and temporal variation in fish assemblage structure in isolated waterholes during the 2001 dry season of an arid-zone floodplain river, Cooper Creek, Australia.  Marine and Freshwater Research 56: 25-35.

Dudgeon, D., Arthington, A.H., Gessner, M.O, Kawabata, Z., Knowler, D., Lévêque, C., Naiman, R.J., Prieur-Richard, A.-H., Soto, D., Stiassny, M.L.J. & Sullivan C.A. (2006). Freshwater biodiversity: importance, threats, status, and conservation challenges.Biological Reviews 81: 163-182.

Arthington, A.H., Naiman, R.J., McClain, M.E. & C. Nilsson (2010). Preserving the biodiversity and ecological services of rivers: new challenges and research opportunities. Freshwater Biology55: 1-16, Special Issue on Environmental Flows; Science and Management.

Poff, N. L, Richter, B. D., Arthington A. H., Bunn, S.E., Naiman, R. J., Kendy, E., Acreman M., Apse C., Bledsoe, B.P., Freeman, M. C., Henriksen, J., Jacobson, R. B., Kennen, J. G., Merritt, D. M., O’Keeffe J. H., Olden, J. D., Rogers, K., Tharme, R. E. & A Warne (2010). The ecological limits of hydrologic alteration (ELOHA): a new framework for developing regional environmental flow standards, Freshwater Biology 55: 147-170.

Arthington A.H. (2012). Environmental Flows. In: “Water, Cultural Diversity, and Global Environmental Change: Emerging Trends, Sustainable Futures?” (Eds Johnson, BI, Kiwasaki, L, Klaver IJ, Ramos Costill A, Strang V). Springer and UNESCO, p. 458-461.


Angela seine netting in Cooper Creek for the Dryland Refugia project in 2000.