Colette Thomas

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow - Catchment to Reef Processes

Colette completed a BSc in Environmental Science in 1994 and MSc in Aquatic Ecotoxicology in 2001, both at the University of Technology, Sydney. After working at SKM for several years she completed a PhD in 2008 at Monash University. Her PhD research investigated the application of Bayesian Belief Networks as a decision support tool for managing the impacts of river water quality to seagrass in the Herbert River catchment. She then worked for four years with CSIRO as a socio-ecological systems modeller for various tropical conservation issues. Colette’s broad research interests include modelling stressor interaction, risk assessment and integration.


Colette’s research focusses on understanding the systems-level effects of human development to tropical habitats of high conservation, natural resource and social value. She is passionate about working directly with industries, communities and governments to develop evidence-driven, high impact strategies that can be quickly implemented and responsive to new learning. Colette develops models to develop adaptive and high-impact natural resource and conservation management strategies for the governments, industries and communities of northern Australia.

My research experience includes:

  • Threatened species – small mammals, turtles
    • ecosystem/protected area management
    • Great Barrier Reef
    • Torres Strait
    • Gulf of Carpentaria
    • South-East Asia
    • north Australian rangelands
  • Environmental monitoring and assessment
    • sediment, seagrass, water, turtles
    • metals, pesticides, plastic marine debris
  • Downstream effects of agricultural management – sugarcane, grazing
  • Environmental economics –  tourism, commercial fishing, recreation, sugarcane
  • Water quality modelling
  • Aquatic ecotoxicology
    • freshwater and marine
    • algae, zooplankton, fish

Google Scholar Publications

Research/recent projects:

  • Assess the potential impact of agricultural development to the water quality of rivers draining to the Great Barrier Reef and Gulf of Carpentaria
  • Assess the environmental-economic values associated with Great Barrier Reef habitats and the industries that depend upon them
  • Investigate the links between water quality and green turtle health
  • Develop an efficient method for the recovery and quantification of microplastic from marine flora and fauna

Current collaborations:

JCU Marine Plastics Research Hub

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