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Dr Neil Pettit

Neil is a Research Fellow within the School of Science working on a Office of Water Science project investigating the ecohydrology of groundwater dependent terrestrial vegetation in terms of responses to coal seam gas extraction and coal mining.


  • Research Fellow, Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia.  Research on Australian tropical rivers, food webs and floodplain connections
  • Research Scientist, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle USA.  Research on river vegetation dynamics as part of the River/Savanna Boundaries Program (RBSP) in Kruger National Park, South Africa.
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research, James Cook University, Townsville North Queensland.  This position mainly involved an investigation of the ecological effects of livestock grazing on riparian vegetation in the Burdekin River catchment. Your employment history text here (optional)

Professional Associations

  • Australian Society of Limnology (1996 – present).

Research Areas and Interests

Neil’s research interests include riverine vegetation ecology at a community and population level as well as more general research interests including riparian vegetation dynamics, the effects of altered flow regimes on riparian vegetation and general ecological processes in freshwater aquatic systems.  Other areas of interest include understanding ecological processes in freshwater aquatic ecosystems, particularly importance of variability and links between biogeochemistry and food webs and how this can inform natural resource management and development.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Edith Cowan University, 2001.
  • Master of Philosophy, Murdoch University, 1995.
  • Bachelor of Applied Science, Western Australian Institute of Technology, 1985.

Recent Publications (within the last five years)

Book Chapters

  • Douglas, M., Pettit, N., Setterfield, S., (2016), Fire in Australia's riparian landscapes. Vegetation of Australian Riverine Landscapes: Biology, Ecology and Management, 297-306, Australia, CSIRO Publishing.

Journal Articles

  • Pettit, N., Bayliss, P., Bartollo, R., (2018), Dynamics of plant communities and the impact of saltwater intrusion on the floodplains of Kakadu National Park. Marine and Freshwater Research, 69(7), 1124-1133, Australia, CSIRO Publishing, DOI: 10.1071/MF16148.
  • Bayliss, P., Finlayson, C., Innes, J., Norman-L√≥pez, A., Bartolo, R., Harford, A., Pettit, N., Humphrey, C., Van Dam, R., Dutra, L., Woodward, E., Ligtermoet, E., Steven, A., Chariton, A., Williams, D., (2018), An integrated risk-assessment framework for multiple threats to floodplain values in the Kakadu Region, Australia, under a changing climate. Marine and Freshwater Research, 69(7), 1159-1185, Australia, CSIRO, DOI: 10.1071/MF17043.
  • Pettit, N., Froend, R., (2018), How important is groundwater availability and stream perenniality to riparian and floodplain tree growth?. Hydrological Processes, 32(10), 1502-1514, DOI: 10.1002/hyp.11510.
  • Jardine, T., Rayner, T., Pettit, N., Valdez, D., Ward, D., Lindner, G., Douglas, M., Bunn, S., (2017), Body size drives allochthony in food webs of tropical rivers. Oecologia, 183(2), 505-517, DOI: 10.1007/s00442-016-3786-z.
  • Pettit, N., Warfe, D., Close, P., Pusey, B., Dobbs, R., Davies, C., Valdez, D., Davies, P., (2017), Carbon sources for aquatic food webs of riverine and lacustrine tropical waterholes with variable groundwater influence. Marine and Freshwater Research, 68(3), 442-451, Australia, CSIRO Publishing, DOI: 10.1071/MF15365.
  • Pettit, N., Naiman, RJ., Warfe, DM., Jardine, TD., Douglas, MM., Bunn, SE., Davies, PM., (2017), Productivity and Connectivity in Tropical Riverscapes of Northern Australia: Ecological Insights for Management. Ecosystems, 20(3), 492-514, New York, USA, Springer New York LLC, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-016-0037-4.
  • Pettit, N., Ward, D., Adame, M., Valdez, D., Bunn, S., (2016), Influence of aquatic plant architecture on epiphyte biomass on a tropical river floodplain. Aquatic Botany, 129(1), 35-43, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2015.12.001.
  • Ward, D., Pettit, N., Adame, M., Douglas, M., Setterfield, S., Bunn, S., (2016), Seasonal spatial dynamics of floodplain macrophyte and periphyton abundance in the Alligator Rivers region (Kakadu) of northern Australia. Ecohydrology, 9(8), 1675-1686, West Sussex, United Kingdom, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, DOI: 10.1002/eco.1757.
  • Dobbs, RJ., Davies, CL., Walker, ML., Pettit, N., Pusey, BJ., Close, PG., Akune, Y., Walsham, N., Smith, B., Wiggan, A., Cox, P., Ward, DP., Tingle, F., Kennett, R., Jackson, MV., Davies, PM., (2016), Collaborative research partnerships inform monitoring and management of aquatic ecosystems by Indigenous rangers. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 26(4), 711-725, Dordrecht, Netherlands, Springer, DOI: 10.1007/s11160-015-9401-2.
  • Siebers, AR., Pettit, N., Skrzypek, G., Fellman, JB., Dogramaci, S., Grierson, PF., (2016), Alluvial ground water influences dissolved organic matter biogeochemistry of pools within intermittent dryland streams. Freshwater Biology, 61(8), 1228-1241, West Sussex, United Kingdom, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, DOI: 10.1111/fwb.12656.
  • Jardine, TD., Bond, NR., Burford, MA., Kennard, MJ., Ward, DP., Bayliss, P., Davies, PM., Douglas, MM., Hamilton, SK., Melack, JM., Naiman, RJ., Pettit, N., Pusey, BJ., Warfe, DM., Bunn, SE., (2015), Does flood rhythm drive ecosystem responses in tropical riverscapes?. Ecology, 96(3 ), 684-692, USA, Ecological Society of America, DOI: 10.1890/
  • Pettit, N., Naiman, R., Fry, J., Roberts, J., Close, P., Pusey, B., Woodall, G., Macgregor, C., Speldewinde, P., Stewart, B., Dobbs, R., Paterson, H., Cook, P., Toussaint, S., Comer, S., Davies, P., (2015), Environmental change: Prospects for conservation and agriculture in a southwest Australia biodiversity hotspot. Ecology and Society: a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability, 20(3), article no. 10, Ontario, Canada, Resilience Alliance Publications, DOI: 10.5751/ES-07727-200310.
  • Garcia, EA., Pettit, N., Warfe, DM., Davies, PM., Kyne, PM., Novak, P., Douglas, MM., (2015), Temporal variation in benthic primary production in streams of the Australian wet-dry tropics. Hydrobiologia: The International Journal of Aquatic Sciences, 760(1), 43-55, Netherlands, Kluwer Academic Publishers, DOI: 10.1007/s10750-015-2301-6.

Research Student Supervision

Co-principal Supervisor

  • Master of Science (Environmental Management),  An ecological characterisation of a shallow seasonal claypan wetland, southwestern Australia.
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