Dr Melissa Parsons

Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow - Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education; School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

Melissa Parsons

Phone: +61 2 6773 3527

Email: melissa.parsons@une.edu.au


BAppSc (Hons) (University of Canberra), PhD (University of Canberra)

Teaching Areas

GEPL309/409 Natural Hazards
PhD Student Advisor

Supervision Areas

  • River science and management including  riparian vegetation ecology, river landscapes, environmental monitoring and assessment, ecological resilience
  • Natural hazards including assessing disaster resilience, large floods, ecological impacts of natural hazards

Research Interests

Dr Melissa Parsons is a river scientist with broad-ranging research interests in river monitoring and assessment, large flood disturbances, river ecology, river and floodplain resilience, building resilience to natural hazards, public policy and water resource management. Melissa works at the interface between theoretical and applied science, examining the ways that theories such as resilience can be applied to deliver management outcomes.

Melissa has worked on several national-scale environmental assessments including the National Carbon Accounting System and the AUSRIVAS river health assessment.  Her post-doctoral research examined the ecological effects of the February 2000 floods across southern Africa on the rivers of Kruger National Park.  Melissa currently co-leads a project within the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC to develop an Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index.


Journal Articles

Parsons, M., Thoms, M.C. and Flotemersch, J.  (2017)  Eight river principles for navigating the science-policy interface.  Marine and Freshwater Research, 68: 401-410.

Parsons, M., Glavac, S., Hastings, P., Marshall, G., McGregor, J., McNeill, J., Morley, P., Reeve, I. and Stayner, R.  (2016)  Top-down assessment of disaster resilience: a conceptual framework using coping and adaptive capacities.  International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 19: 1-11.

Thapa, R., Thoms, M. C., & Parsons, M. (2016) The response of dryland floodplain vegetation productivity to flooding and drying. Journal of Arid Environments, 129: 42-55.

Thapa, R., Thoms, M.C., Parsons and Reid, M.  (2016)  Adaptive cycles of floodplain vegetation response to flooding and drying.  Hydrology and Earth Surface Dynamics, 4: 175-191.

Parsons, M. and Southwell, M.  (2015)  Flooding and geomorphology influence the persistence of the invasive annual herb Noogoora burr (Xanthium occidentale Bertol.) in the riparian zone of a dryland river.  The Rangeland Journal, 37: 433-444.

Thapa, R., Thoms, M. and Parsons, M.  (2016)  An adaptive cycle hypothesis of semi-arid floodplain vegetation productivity in dry and wet resource states.  Ecohydrology, 9: 39-51.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M.C. (2013)  Patterns of vegetation greenness during flood, rain and dry resource states in a large, unconstrained floodplain landscape.  Journal of Arid Environments, 88: 24-38.

Parsons, M. and Thoms, M.C.  (2007)  Hierarchical patterns of physical-biological associations in river ecosystems.  Geomorphology, 89: 127-146.

Parsons, M., McLoughlin, C.A., Kotschy, K.A., Rogers, K.H. and Rountree, M.W. (2005)  The effects of extreme floods on the biophysical heterogeneity of river landscapes.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 3: 487-494.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M.C. and Norris, R.H.  (2004).  Development of a standardized approach to river habitat assessment in Australia.  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 98: 109-130.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M.C. and Norris, R.H.  (2004)  Using hierarchy to select scales of measurement in multiscale studies of stream macroinvertebrate assemblages.  Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 23: 157-170.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M.C. and Norris, R.H.  (2003)  Scales of macroinvertebrate distribution in relation to the hierarchical organisation of river systems.  Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 22: 105-122.

Thoms, M.C. and Parsons, M.  (2003)  Identifying spatial and temporal patterns in the hydrological character of the Condamine-Balonne River, Australia, using multivariate statistics.  River Research and Applications, 19: 443-457.

Parsons, M. and Norris, R.H.  (1996)  The effect of habitat specific sampling on biological assessment of water quality using a predictive model.  Freshwater Biology, 36: 419-434.

Other Publications

Parsons, M., Thoms, M.C., Flotemersch, J. and Reid, M.  (2016)  Monitoring the resilience of rivers as social-ecological systems: a paradigm shift for the 21st Century.  In: Gilvear, D., Greenwood, M., Thoms, M. and Wood, P. (Eds)  River Science: Research and Applications for the 21st Century.  John Wiley and Sons: UK.  Pages 197-220.

Thoms, M. and Parsons, M.  (2016).  The physical template of Australian floodplains.  In: Capon, S., James, C. and Reid, M.  (eds)  Vegetation of Australia’s Riverine Landscapes.  CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.  Pages 27-44.

Thoms, M., Parsons, M., and Southwell, M.  (2016).  The physical template of Australian rivers.  In: Capon, S., James, C. and Reid, M.  (eds)  Vegetation of Australia’s Riverine Landscapes.  CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.  Pages 8-25.

Parsons, M., Morley, P., Marshall, G., Hastings, P., Glavac, S., McGregor, J., Stayner, R., McNeill, J. and Reeve, I.  (2015).  The Australian Natural Disaster Resilience Index: Conceptual framework and indicator approach.  Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, Melbourne, Australia.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M., Capon, T., Capon, S., Reid, M.  (2009)  Resilience and thresholds in river ecosystems.  Waterlines report series, Number 21, September 2009.  National Water Commission, Canberra.  Available from http://archive.nwc.gov.au/rnws/ecosystems/water-dependent-ecosystems-part-1.

Capon, T., Parsons, M., Thoms, M.  (2009)  Floodplain ecosystems: resilience, value of ecosystem services and principles for diverting water from floodplains.  Final report to the National Water Commission, Canberra.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M., Hakan Arvidsson, P., Rayburg, S., Bobbin, S.  (2009) Vegetation dynamics of the Lower Balonne floodplain landscape.  Final project report to the Western Catchment Management Authority, Bourke, NSW.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M., Harris, C., Rayburg, S.  (2007). Assessment of physical form at the valley scale: protocol for a reference based approach.  Sustainable Rivers Audit, Murray Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.

Parsons, M., Thoms, M. and Norris, R.  (2001)  AUSRIVAS Physical Assessment Protocol.  CRCFE and Environment Australia.  173pp.