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Dr Rebecca Fisher

Ecological Risk Assessment Modeller

Quantitative ecology

Contact number
(08) 6369 4005
+61-8-6369 4005
Contact email

A quantitative ecologist with over 15 years of experience in marine ecology and highly developed skills in statistical modelling, including a solid academic background coupled with direct experience in the application of marine science in industry.

An ecological research focus on tropical marine ecosystems, including: larval performance, survival and growth; tradeoffs in life history strategies; recruitment variability and dispersal; patterns and drivers in biodiversity; and anthropogenic impacts. Has contributed actively in the field of quantitative ecology, developing novel numerical methods for quantifying biases in research effort and for estimating global species richness of coral reefs; using stochastic modelling methods to examine power in non-standard sampling designs and undertake population viability analysis; and developing software to support quantitative expert elicitation. Recent work focuses on sediment stress and water qiality threshold development on coral reefs.

PhD Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville AU
BSc Hon (Class 1) Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville AUlia

Current research aims to draw together high quality field and laboratory data, with statistical, ecological and physical modelling, to provide a means of translating high quality academic science into a format that can be directly used by government and industry to better manage risk in tropical marine ecosystems. The main focus of current research includes: 

  • Developing novel numerical methods for assessing risk
  • Exploring the relative importance of risk factors through statistical modelling
  • Developing methods for detecting intervention points and defining appropriate risk indicators
  • Developing toolkits to support risk management

Fisher R, Walshe T, Bessell-Browne P, Jones R (2018) Accounting for environmental uncertainty in the management of dredging impacts using probabilistic dose-response relationships and thresholds. J Appl Ecol 55: 415-425

Fisher R, Stark C, Ridd P, Jones R (2015) Spatial Patterns in Seawater Quality from Dredging in Tropical Environments. PLoS ONE 10(12):e0143309

Jones R, Fisher R, Stark C, Ridd P (2015) Temporal Patterns in Seawater Quality from Dredging in Tropical Environments. PLoS ONE 10(10):e0137112

Jones RJ, Bessell-Browne P, Fisher R, Klonowski W, Slivkoff M (2015) Assessing the impacts of sediments from dredging on corals. Mar Poll Bull 102(1):9-20

Fisher R, O'Leary RA, Low-Choy S, Mengersen K, Knowlton N, Brainard RE, Caley MJ (2015) Species Richness on Coral Reefs and the Pursuit of Convergent Global Estimates. Current Biology 25: 500-505

Caley MJ, Fisher R, Mengersen K (2014) Global species richness estimates have not converged. TREE 29:187-188

Caley MJ, O'Leary RA, Fisher R, Low-Choy S, Jonson S, Mengersen K (2014) What is an expert? A systems perspective on expertise. Meth Ecol Evol 4:231-242

Wilson SK, Graham NAJ, Fisher R, Robinson J, Nash K, Chong-Seng K, Polunin NVC, Quatre R (2012) Effect of Macroalgal Expansion and Marine Protected Areas on Coral Recovery Following a Climatic Disturbance. Cons Biol 26:995-1004

Fisher R, O'Leary RA, Low Choy S, Mengersen K, Caley MJ (2012) A software tool for elicitation of expert knowledge about species richness or similar counts. Env Mod Soft 30:1-14

Fisher R, Knowlton N, Brainard RE, Caley MJ (2011) Differences among major taxa in the extent of ecological knowledge across four major ecosystems. PLoS ONE 6:e26556

Fisher R, Radford BT, Knowlton N, Brainard RE, Michaelis FB, Caley MJ (2011) Global mismatch between research effort and conservation needs of tropical coral reefs. Cons Letters 4:64-72

Wilson SK, Fisher R, Pratchett MS, Graham NAJ, Dulvy NK, Turner RA, Cakacaka A, Polunin NVC, Rushton SP (2008) Exploitation and habitat degradation as agents of change within coral reef fish communities. GCB 14:2796-2809

Fisher R (2005) Swimming speeds of larval coral reef fishes: impacts on self-recruitment and dispersal. MEPS 285:223-232

Fisher R, Bellwood DR, Job S (2000) The development of swimming abilities in reef fish larvae. MEPS 202:163-173