Issue 1
Monday, 15 February 2016
Charles Darwin University
Professor Jenny Davis is Head of the School of Environment at CDU
Professor Jenny Davis is Head of the School of Environment at CDU

Aquatic expert flies high as new head

By Leanne Miles

An aquatic ecologist and dragonfly expert, with experience spanning more than 30 years in Australia and Asia, has been appointed Head of the School of Environment at Charles Darwin University.

After starting her academic career at Murdoch University, in Western Australia, Professor Jenny Davis comes to CDU from the University of Canberra, where she was Chair of Water Science, Institute of Applied Ecology.

No stranger to the Northern Territory, Professor Davis has worked on projects in the Top End and Central Australia before commencing at CDU.

“I am very excited to be here; I have been hoping for an opportunity like this since I began my work in the NT in 1986,” she said.

Along with running the School of Environment at CDU, Professor Davis will continue her research on invertebrates including the creation of a guide on dragonflies and a survey documenting “refugia” in Central Australia.

“Refugia are small aquatic pools found in Australia’s arid zone, some of them are up to 70,000 years old,” she said. “I have been looking at sites throughout the West MacDonnell Ranges and Watarrka National Parks to find out, using motion sensor cameras, how animals including dingoes, euros and birds use the waterholes.”

Professor Davis’ broader research focuses on the impacts of stressors such as urbanisation and climate change to crucial aquatic ecosystems such as wetlands and shallow lakes.

“A major theme of my research has been to determine the critical processes that support the resilience of wetland ecosystems,” Professor Davis said. “Much of my work is in the field of environmental management, especially environmental change and factors influencing the conservation and persistence of arid zone biodiversity.”

Professor Davis brings a wealth of knowledge in fieldwork investigations in conservation, protection and management of a range of freshwater ecosystems.

“It is an exciting time to be in my field,” she said. “We now have the technology to be able to measure and actually see how and why biodiversity is supported by aquatic ecosystems. It will enable us to address some enduring questions in aquatic ecology.”

Professor Davis has held positions at Monash University, Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia. She is Secretary General of the 10th INTECOL International Wetlands Conference to be held in Changshu China, in 2016. She is also Chair of the Society for Wetland Scientists Oceania Chapter and was awarded the Australian Society for Limnology Medal for freshwater research in 2006.

Throughout her academic career she has published (individually or collaboratively) more than 196 works, including seven books, 100 peer-reviewed journal papers, book chapters and conference proceedings, 86 technical reports and other articles, and three CDs. She has supervised almost 90 research students (Honours, Masters and PhDs) to completion.