Professor Darren Ryder

Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning - School of Environmental and Rural Science

Darren Ryder

Phone: +61 2 6773 5226



I am a Professor in aquatic ecology and Leader of the Aquatic Ecology and Restoration Research Centre at the University of New England. I have over 18 years experience in research in aquatic ecosystems in coastal and inland rivers and wetlands of eastern Australia. My research expertise has a focus on the effective management and restoration of freshwater ecosystems and covers areas such as:

  • Design and implementation of monitoring programs to assess the ecological health of wetland, river and estuarine ecosystems.
  • Biogeochemistry and ecosystem function of aquatic systems.
  • Biodiversity and foodweb analysis of aquatic systems.
  • Design of best-practice models for river restoration and assessing ecological outcomes of on-ground restoration practices.

I teach a number of units with a focus on the ecology, management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems, and have recently co-authored the new textbook 'Australian Freshwater Ecology' that is being used as a textbook in many Australian universities.


  • Graduate Certificate of Higher Education - University of New England
  • PhD. Environmental Management - Edith Cowan University
  • B.App.Sc. (Hons. 1) Environmental Management - Edith Cowan University

Teaching Areas

EM351/551 - Ecosystem Rehabilitation
ECOL202/402 - Aquatic Ecology
RSNR402/502 - Integrated Water Resources Management
ECOL100 - Ecology: Concepts and Applications
ECOL203/403 - Ecology - Populations to Ecosystems
RSNR110 - Sustaining our Rural Environment 1 (Water Module)
EM312/512 - Environmental Impact Assessment

Research Interests

My research projects have  a strong focus on investigating the ecology of wetland, river and estuarine ecosystems – how populations and communities interact with their physical environment. I am particularly interested in understanding the fundamental biogeochemical processes such as nutrient and organic matter cycling, and ecosystem metabolism that support aquatic food webs.

Aquatic Ecology and Restoration Research Group

Research themes

  • Aquatic species ecology - microbes, algae, invertebrates and fish.
  • Management of environmental flows in the context of competing demands for water.
  • Development and implementation of monitoring programs to assess the ecological condition of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Design and ecological assessment of waterway restoration projects.

Major Long-term Research Projects

  • Long-Term Intervention Monitoring of the Ecological Success of Environmental Flows in the Gwydir River system - 2014-19. Commonwealth Environmental Water Office.
  • Ecohealth: assessment of river and estuarine condition in coastal rivers of northern NSW - 2009-16. North Coast Local Land Services, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, DPI Fisheries and LGAs.
  • Impacts of prolonged low flows from water extraction on the ecological condition of the Nymboida River - 2007-2018. Essential Energy, Clarence Valley Council, Coffs Harbour City Council.

Research Supervision Experience

I have a track record of successful supervision, completing 17 PhD students and over 25 honours students on aquatic research projects.

Current Students

Karlie McDonald  (PhD) - Integrated modelling of trophic shifts in unregulated coastal rivers: A Bayesian network approach.

Bob Baker (PhD) - Potential for biofuels from natural algal communities in sewage treatment ponds: nutrients and zooplankton as regulatory processes.

Lisa Thurtell (PhD) - The response of aquatic communities to water quality, land use, flow variability and extraction in an unregulated Australian coastal river.

Elliot Picone (PhD) - Ecosystem service potential from riparian restoration in agricultural streams.

Solomon Birhanie (PhD)

Andrew Smolders (Research Masters) - Developing best-practice management in water supply catchments

Mat Birch (PhD) - Linking habitat availability, biodiversity and trophic resources in intermittent streams

Phoebe Haslett (Honours) - Developing geochemical fingerprints for determining the source of fine sediment in degraded coastal rivers.

Nathan Eager (Honours) - Does riparian restoration improve instream biodiversity in urban streams?



Boulton, A.J., Brock, M.A., Robson, B.J., Ryder, D.S., Chambers, J.M. & Davis, J.A. (2014) Australian Freshwater Ecology. Wiley & Sons: New York. ISBN: 978-1-118-56822-4.

Watts, R.J., Allan, C., Bowmer, K., Page, K., Ryder, D.S. and Wilson, A (2010) Pulsed flows: a review of environmental costs and benefits and best practice. Waterlines National Water Commission, 149 pp. Canberra. ISBN: 978-1-921107-77-1.

Book Chapters

Boon, P.I., Pollard, P.C. & Ryder. D.S. (2014) Wetland microbial ecology and biogeochemistry. In (Batzer & Sharitz Eds.) Ecology of Freshwater and Estuarine Wetlands. University of California Press. ISBN: 0-520-24777-9.

Journal Articles

Berney, P.J., Wilson, G.G., Ryder, D.S., Whalley, R.D., Duggin,, J. & McCosker, R.J. (In Press) Divergent responses to long-term grazing exclusion among three plant communities in a flood pulsing wetland in eastern Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology. Accepted 17/3/14.

Growns, I., Ryder, D.S., Kobayashi, T. & García, A. (2014). Freshwater macroinvertebrates of Lord Howe Island. Journal of Natural History. DOI 10.1080/00222933.2014.946107. 17/6/14.

Smolders, A., Smolders, K., Watkinson, A. & Ryder, D.S. (2014) Reassessing the risk of microbial contamination from roosting cormorants in source water supply reservoirs. Lake and Reservoir Management, 30:23-31.

Hadaddchi, A., Ryder, D.S., Evrard, O & Olley, J (2013) Sediment fingerprinting in fluvial systems: Review of tracers, sediment sources and mixing models. International Journal of Sediment Research, 28:560-578.

Kobayashi T, Ralph T.J, Ryder D.S, Hunter S.J. (2013) Gross primary productivity of phytoplankton and planktonic respiration in inland floodplain wetlands of southeast Australia: habitat-dependent patterns and regulating processes. Ecological Research 28, 833-843.

Rolls, R. J., Boulton, A. J., Growns, I. O., Maxwell, S. E., Ryder, D. S., & Westhorpe, D. P. (2012). Effects of an experimental environmental flow release on the diet of fish in a regulated coastal Australian river. Hydrobiologia, 686(1), 195-212.

Barlocher, F., Stewart, M., & Ryder, D. S. (2012). Processing of Eucalyptus viminalis leaves in Australian streams importance of aquatic hyphomycetes and zoosporic fungi. Fundamental and Applied Limnology, 179(4), 305-319.

Frazier, P., Ryder, D., McIntyre, E., & Stewart, M. (2012). Understanding riverine habitat inundation patterns: remote sensing tools and techniques. Wetlands, 32(2), 225-237.

Bärlocher, F., Stewart, M., & Ryder, D. S. (2011). Analyzing aquatic fungal communities in Australia: impacts of sample incubation and geographic distance of streams. Czech Mycol, 63, 113-132.

Kobayashi, T., Ryder, D. S., Ralph, T. J., Mazumder, D., Saintilan, N., (2011). Longitudinal spatial variation in ecological conditions in an in‐channel floodplain river system during flow pulses. River Research and Applications, 27(4), 461-472.

Price, J. N., Berney, P. J., Ryder, D., Whalley, R. D. B., & Gross, C. L. (2011). Disturbance governs dominance of an invasive forb in a temporary wetland. Oecologia, 167(3), 759-769.

Watts, R.J., Ryder D.S., Allen, C. & Commens, S. (2010) Using river-scale experiments to inform the adaptive management process for variable flow releases from large dams. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 786-797.

Lake, P.S., Likens, G.E. & Ryder D.S. (2010) Integrating science, policy and management of rivers: Peter Cullen's legacy. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 733-735.

Mika, S., Hoyle, J.T., Kyle, G., Howell, T., Wolfenden, B.J., Ryder, D.S., Keating, D., Boulton, A.J., Brierley, G.J., Brooks, A.P., Fryirs, K.A., Leishman, M.R., Sanders, M., Arthington, A.H., Creese, R., Dahm, M., Miller, C., Pusey, B., Spencer, J., and Spink, A.M. (2010) Inside the black box of  river restoration: using catchment history to identify disturbance and response mechanisms to set the targets for process-based restoration. Ecology and Society. 15 (4): 8. URL: ttp://

Jenkins, K.M., Kingsford, R.T. & Ryder, D.S. (2010) Developing indicators for floodplain wetlands: managing water in agricultural landscapes. Chiang Mai Journal of Science 8, 1-8.

Kobayashi, T, Ryder, D.S., Gordon, G, Shannon, I., Ingolton, T., Carpenter, M. & Jacobs, S.J. (2010) Short-term response of nutrients, carbon and planktonic microbial communities to floodplain wetland inundation. Aquatic Ecology 43, 843-858.

Ryder, D.S., Tomlinson, M., Gawne, B. & Likens, G.E. (2010) Defining and using 'best available science': A policy conundrum for the management of aquatic ecosystems. Marine and Freshwater Research 61, 821-828.

Conference papers

Stewart, M and Ryder, D.S. (2012). Does restoring riparian vegetation affect nutrient and sediment retention in agricultural streams? Proceedings of the 6th Australian Stream management Conference 178-84.