Environmental DNA

Revolutionising how we investigate Aquatic Fauna


Seagrass Management

Developing tools for effective management of seagrass ecosystems


Working with our neighbours

We collaborate with local government, business and community groups in PNG, Solomon Islands, Torres Strait


Mangrove Dieback

A new four-Hub research project is investigating the devastating dieback of mangroves in the Gulf



Providing Solutions for Government, Communities and Industry

The Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) is an amalgamation of aquatic expertise from across James Cook University. It brings together over 150 research and supporting staff and over 100 post-graduate students into one cohesive research group. TropWATER provides a unique opportunity for multidisciplinary research activities by integrating JCU’s aquatic expertise into one unit, which covers the full spectrum of freshwater, estuarine and marine waters, with expertise from ecology, water quality, hydrology, engineering, physics, oceanography, modelling and resource economics.

TropWATER aims to conduct highly-recognised and influential research in fields related to water science, resource management and the ecology of water ecosystems, with a special focus on achieving sustainable use of water resource systems and water ecosystems. Our overall goal is to secure the future of water ecosystems and maintain their critical functional processes. The Centre has a strong, but not exclusive, focus on tropical water systems, both in Australia and internationally. It is concerned with major issues in water science, including water resources, water quality and aquatic biodiversity, in relation to economic, social and environmental needs, constraints and change.

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Research Themes


Freshwater Ecology

Researchers in the Freshwater Ecology Theme provide scientific advice for the management of agriculture, mining and water extraction impacts on freshwater ecosystems, including habitat protection, wetland restoration and the control of invasive species.


Coastal and Estuarine Ecology

Researchers in the Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Theme are world leaders in research into the ecology of tropical estuaries, coastal wetlands and nearshore ecosystems, their values, and approaches to ameliorate and repair human impacts on them.


Seagrass Ecology

The Seagrass Ecology group specialises in tropical research with a specific interest in the Indo-Pacific region but also manages projects that extend globally. The group has a strong focus on research, advising management agencies responsible for coastal development and coastal planning decisions.


Catchment to Reef Processes

The Catchment to Reef Processes research group is one of Australia’s leading research groups in the study of environmental issues along the 'catchment to reef continuum’, from the headwaters of the Great Barrier Reef catchment to the outer reef.


Water Quality and Contaminants

The Water Quality and Contaminants group working with large-scale, regional monitoring, management, detection and prediction of water contamination brings together unique expertise to be able to deal with these complex issues of modelling, prediction and remediation of various regional scale water contamination problems.



One of the primary focuses of the Oceanography Group is the effect of sediment and nutrients on coral reefs in both natural conditions and also when dredging is occurring.



Our hydrological research focuses on the interactions between river flow and aquatic ecology; providing critical knowledge required for the management and sustainable use of surface and groundwater water resources.


Socio-economic Systems and Natural Resource Management

Focusing on the interactions between people and aquatic systems. Engaging with local communities to learn more about the way in which humans affect and are affected by their environment.

Latest News

Back-to-back cyclones and flood plume impacts on the Great Barrier Reef

Back-to-back cyclones have exposed the Great Barrier Reef to extensive and persistent flood plumes from Ingham up to Cape York Peninsula, with terrestrial runoff lathering coral reef and seagr...



Traditional Owners study ancient marine ecosystem as it spawns the next generation of corals

The Great Barrier Reef stands as one of the world's oldest natural wonders, with First Nations people living alongside the evolution of this vast coral ecosystem for millennia.This week,...



Scientists take students beyond the classroom in unique opportunity

This year, TropWATER scientists provided high school students at Newman Catholic College in Cairns with a unique opportunity to advance their scientific knowledge beyond the classroom, inspiring a new...



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