Fish Ecology Collaborative Research Unit

FECRU heading simpleThe Fish Ecology Collaborative Research Unit (FECRU) is a collaboration between university researchers and natural resource managers to foster rigorous scientific research into the management and  conservation of fish and aquatic ecosystems.

Our aims

We aim to provide a hub for research, that combines fundamental science with applied conservation, environmental and management. We also aim to support post-graduate students and post-doctoral researchers through joint scholarships and fellowships, between universities and agencies, to conduct research that will enhance understanding and management of aquatic ecosystems.  Through the dissemination of scientific findings, we want to contribute to effective public awareness, management and conservation.

Our membership

Currently, FECRU members come from Charles Sturt University’s Institute for Land, Water and Society, CSIRO/Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre and several natural resource management agencies within the Murray-Darling Basin.

FECRU members: Nicole McCasker, Paul Humphries and Keller Kopf

FECRU members: Nicole McCasker, Paul Humphries and Keller Kopf

FECRU researchers include:

Dr Paul Humphries  – Unit leader, Charles Sturt University. 30 years fish ecology experience. Interests: flow – ecology relationships, early life history, historical ecology.

Dr R Keller Kopf– Post-doctoral research fellow, Charles Sturt University. 12 years fish ecology experience. Interests: fisheries science, fish biology, ecosystem processes.

Dr Nicole McCasker – Post-doctoral research fellow, Charles Sturt University. 13 years fish ecology experience. Interests: early life history, recruitment, flow-ecology relationships

Dr Rick Stoffels – CSIRO Senior Scientist,  The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, Wodonga.

Dr Kevin Warburton – Adjunct member, School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University, Albury.

Current post-graduate and Honours students

Looking at dip net samples from Broken River billabongs







Dale Campbell – PhD Student, CSU. The effects of flooding and drying on macroinvertebrate assemblages of temporary and permanent floodplain wetlands and how this relates to taphonomy and the palaeoecological record. Supervised by P Humphries, N McCasker and M Reid (UNE).

Matthew O’Connell – PhD Student, CSU. Curatorial effects on the use of fish mounts as indicators of environmental change – a case study into informal collections of Murray cod. Supervised by P Humphries, J Bond, D Spennemann, RK Kopf and N McCasker

Callum Lanagan-Jonas – Honours Student, CSU. Habitat use by southern pygmy perch in the presence of invasive fish species. Supervised by P Humphries, R. Keller Kopf and Luke Pearce. Funded by Murray Local Land Services, with kind support by Tara Pitman.

Luke McPhan – PhD Student, UNSW. Supervised by K Jenkins (UNSW), P Humphries, L. Baumgartner & Andy Baker (UNSW)

Daniel Svozil – PhD Student CSU.  Trait variation and adaptation in isolated fish populations. Supervised by R Watts, RK Kopf & L Baumgartner

Completed 2015: Luke Pearce – MSc Student CSU. Conservation of southern pygmy perch (Nannoperca australis). Supervised by P Humphries & R Watts

Completed 2015: Tara Hicks  – Honours Student CSU. Effects of maternal body size and fatty acid profile on fecundity and egg quality of Dusky flathead, Platycephalus fuscus. Supervised by RK Kopf &  P Humphries.

Completed 2015: James Dyer – PhD Student CSU. The role of movement in explaining the distribution of riverine shrimp. Supervised by P Humphries & R Watts

Research model

Flume experiments

Research undertaken will improve our knowledge of fish ecology, so that management, conservation and restoration strategies are based on rigorous scientific evidence, with a view to long-term sustainability.

By virtue of CSU’s location, many projects will focus on freshwater systems in the Murray-Darling Basin. However, research that will generate broadly applicable and fundamental new insights, regardless of geographic area, will be undertaken.

We are looking to establish co-funded collaborative research projects between government natural resource management agencies and researchers at CSU and other partner universities. If you or your organisation are interested in getting involved, we’d love to hear from you. Email Keller Kopf (, Paul Humphries ( or Nicole McCasker ( Or call Keller on 02 60519294 For more information, go to the FECRU website.


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