Rebecca Dobbs
University of Western Australia

Rebecca DobbsRebecca Dobbs

Research Fellow, University of Western Australia

See Rebecca’s full research profile here.


Rebecca Dobbs is an aquatic ecologist and UWA research fellow based in the Kimberley region of Northern Australia. Over the last fifteen years she has supported wetland management in the Kimberley through collaborative research projects with Indigenous ranger groups, Traditional Owner groups and government and non- government organisations. Recognising Kimberley Indigenous Ranger teams as key land managers in the region, she has worked with multiple groups trialling and adapting standard western science monitoring techniques to meet local concerns and management aspirations. She is passionate about working in multidisciplinary research teams to support the use of multiple knowledge systems to enhance sustainable management of Country.

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • Rebecca co-led a Northern Environmental Science Program (NESP) project, to collaboratively develop a bilarra (wetland) monitoring program for the Yawuru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in the Kimberley region. The monitoring program, shaped by Yawuru knowledge of bilarra ecology and values, is currently being used to support the Country Managers to assess sustainable cattle grazing operations on the IPA, and whether they are achieving their IPA objectives for protecting wetlands.
  • Through the Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Science Project (KISSP) Rebecca was invited to work with a multidisciplinary team including seven Ranger groups across the Kimberley. The Indigenous led project produced a range of products to build capacity for collaborative management of Kimberley Saltwater Country including : Guidelines for collaborative Knowledge Work, A Regional Saltwater Monitoring Framework and Toolbox (highlighting research and knowledge gaps) and a Researchers Guide.
  • Rebecca codeveloped and coordinated a Waterways Education Program in 2007 with the Kununurra branch of the Western Australia Department of Water. This hands-on program offered training and knowledge brokering to maximise local benefits and outcomes resulting from regional and national management and research initiatives. The program has helped identify local concerns and support community driven research (ie research into an outbreak of worms (parasites) in Yaku (fish) for the communities around Paruku). It has since expanded to work collaboratively with Indigenous Ranger groups across the Kimberley developing wetland monitoring tools and plans to help assess the ongoing health of wetlands and assist groups with assessing the ongoing health and management of wetlands (NERP link below)
  • Rebecca has worked on applied research in both tropical and temperate river systems specialising in aquatic fauna (macroinvertebrates and fish) to assess wetland health and drivers of ecological change. This research has provided advice for management of these systems and has helped support state and federal decision making including
    • development of the Ord Environmental Water Requirements,
    • lead researcher for the Kimberley (Fitzroy and Ord River) trials of the Framework for the Assessment of River and Wetland Health (FARWH). This trial evaluated the effectiveness of the framework in assessing river health in the wet/dry tropics, contributing to monitoring and north Australian river management.
    • part of a collaborative research team to improve our understanding of water-dependent ecological assets across northern Australia and the risks to those assets arising from hydrologic changes (NAWFA).
    • Synthesis projects

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2010–present: Research Fellow, School of Agriculture and Environment, University of Western Australia
  • 2004 – 2010 Research Associate, Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, University of Western Australia

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • Rebecca is currently hosted by the Kununurra Regional office for Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER). An important focus of her research has been on developing and maintain these partnerships and collaborations to enable knowledge exchange with government agencies as end “users” of research and provide a pathway for Indigenous locally driven research and knowledge to input into and support broader scale management and research.

Links with non-government groups or network

Rebecca currently sits on a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Nyamba Buru Yawuru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) monitoring and evaluation plan.

Rebecca is currently collaborating with Environs Kimberley and the Ranger network to support both wetland monitoring and management in the Kimberley region

My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP RLH, 2021-2027NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present