The long-term impact of research investment

The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) is the current iteration of a long-term investment in research by the Australian Government that began in 2006.

Research impact often occurs after projects end, with the publication of scientific papers that are integrated into the body of knowledge and continue to influence policy and paradigms.

At least 29 scientific papers arising from research conducted under the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub (NAERH) during the first phase of NESP have been published since that hub finished at the end of 2021. This is more than one-quarter of the total number of papers (110) published (so far) from that hub’s research, highlighting that research outputs continue to be produced well beyond the life of a hub.

The hub’s dedicated researchers represent a significant value-add for the program by continuing to analyse data and publish manuscripts long after their funding is finished. These papers from the last 17 years of continuous research funding continue to be published and accessible for posterity on our website.


NESP research outcomes leveraged additional funding to fight gamba grass in Litchfield National Park

Research published in a recent NAERH paper (Rossiter-Rachor et al. 2023) gave Litchfield National Park managers the evidence they needed to secure $492,000 of Australian Government funding to undertake gamba grass eradication in priority areas of the park, based on the 2 active management scenarios developed and analysed by the research. The data and costed scenarios enabled park managers to assess the scale of the current threat to the park and prioritise gamba control to protect high-value assets. The local eradication program in Litchfield National Park is planned to commence in 2023.

The Hon Lauren Moss, NT Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Security, thanked the hub research team for the gamba distribution survey and noted that the results were already informing day-to-day management decisions in the park.

The media release about this research resulted in 79 mentions in different media outlets, with some international coverage. The potential audience reach was 29.4 million people.

Click to watch an animation from Rossiter-Rachor et al. 2023 showing the surveyed and modelled distribution of the weed gamba grass in the Northern Territory’s Litchfield National Park from 2008–32.

Research outputs and attributions

Scientific papers

  • Andersen AN, Einoder LD, Fisher A, Hill B and Oberprieler SK (2022) ‘Faunal standards for the restoration of terrestrial ecosystems: a framework and its application to a high-profile case study’, Restoration Ecology, 31: e13735,
  • Bangalang N-g, Nadji J, Nayinggul A, Nadji S, Nayinggul A, Dempsey S, Mangiru K, Dempsey J, McCartney S, Mairi Macdonald J. and Robinson CJ (2022) ‘Understanding Indigenous values and priorities for wetlands to guide weed management actions: lessons from the Nardab floodplain in northern Australia’s Kakadu National Park’, Ecological Management and Restoration, 23:105-116.
  • Beesley LS, Killerby-Smith S, Gwinn DC, Pusey BJ, Douglas MM, Novak PA, Tayer TC, Keogh CS, Kennard MJ, Canham CA and Setterfield SA (2022) ‘Modelling the longitudinal distribution, abundance, and habitat use of the giant freshwater shrimp (Macrobrachium spinipes) in a large intermittent, tropical Australian river to inform water resource policy’, Freshwater Biology 00:1– 16,
  • Broadley A, Stewart-Koster B, Burford MA and Brown CJ (2022) ‘A global review of the critical link between river flows and productivity in marine fisheries’, Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries,
  • Brown CJ, Saint Ange C, Connolly RM, Hasan S, Jackson S, McMahon JM and Smart JCR (2023) ‘Ecosystem services in connected catchment to coast ecosystems: monitoring to detect emerging trends’, Science of the Total Environment 161670,
  • Butler ECV, Harries SJ, McAllister KA, Windsor JO, Logan M, Crook DA, Roberts BH, Grubert MA and Saunders TM (2022) ‘Influence of life history variation and habitat on mercury bioaccumulation in a high-order predatory fish in tropical Australia’, Environmental Research 212(A):113152,
  • Canham CA, Woods C, Setterfield SA, Veneklaas E, Freestone FL, Beesley LS and Douglas MM (2022) ‘Functional traits of riparian trees in the lower Fitzroy River, Western Australia’, Ecohydrology,
  • Chung CTY, Hope P, Hutley LB, Brown J and Duke NC (2023) ‘Future climate change will increase risk to mangrove health in northern Australia’, Communications Earth and Environment 4:192,
  • Cooper, MK, Villacorta-Rath C, Burrows D, Jerry DR, Carr L, Barnett A, Huveneers C and Simpfendorfer CA (2022) ‘Practical eDNA sampling methods inferred from particle size distribution and comparison of capture techniques for a critically endangered elasmobranch’, Environmental DNA, 00, 1–13,
  • Crook DA, Wedd D, Adair BJ, Mooney TJ, Harford AJ, Humphrey CL, Morrongielo JR and King AJ (2023) ‘Evaluation and refinement of a fish movement model for a tropical Australian stream subject to mine contaminant egress’, Environmental Biology of Fishes,
  • Duke NC, Mackenzie JR, Canning AD, Hutley LB, Bourke AJ, Kovacs JM, Cormier R, Staben G, Lymburner L and Ai E (2022) ‘ENSO-driven extreme oscillations in mean sea level destabilise critical shoreline mangroves – an emerging threat’, PLOS Climate 1(8): e0000037,
  • Freestone FL, Canham CA, Setterfield SA, Douglas MM, Beesley LS, Loomes RC (2022) ‘Characterising the woody vegetation in contrasting habitat types in the lower Fitzroy River, Western Australia’, Australian Journal of Botany,
  • Kiatkoski Kim M, Douglas MM, Pannell D, Setterfield SA, Hill R, Laborde S, Perrott L, Álvarez-Romero JG, Beesley L, Canham C and Brecknell A (2022) ‘When to use transdisciplinary approaches for environmental research’, Frontiers in Environmental Science, 10:840569,
  • Laborde S and Jackson S (2022) ‘Living waters or resource? Ontological differences and the governance of waters and rivers’, Local Environment,
  • Larson S, Jarvis D, Stoeckl N, Barrowei R, Coleman B, Groves D, Hunter J, Lee M, Markham M, Larson A, Finau G and Douglas M (2023) ‘Piecemeal stewardship activities miss numerous social and environmental benefits associated with culturally appropriate ways of caring for Country’, Journal of Environmental Management 326(B): 116750,
  • Lowe V, Frid CLJ, Venarsky M and Burford MA (2022) ‘Responses of a macrobenthic community to seasonal freshwater flow in a wet-dry tropical estuary’, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 265,
  • McMahon JM, Hasan S, Brooks A, Curwen G, Dyke J, Ange CS, Smart JCR. (2022) ‘Challenges in modelling the sediment retention ecosystem service to inform an ecosystem account – examples from the Mitchell catchment in northern Australia’, Journal of Environmental Management 314:115102,
  • Molinari B, Stewart-Koster B, Malthus TJ and Bunn SE (2022) ‘Impact of water resources development on connectivity and primary productivity across a tropical river floodplain’. Journal of Applied Ecology, 59:1013–1025,
  • O’Mara K, Fry B and Burford M (2022) ‘Benthic-pelagic mixing of trace elements in estuarine food webs’, Marine Environmental Research, 173,
  • O’Mara K, Venarsky M, Stewart-Koster B, McGregor G, Schulz C, Marshall J, Bunn SE and Kainz MJ (2022) ‘Trophic transfer of lipids and fatty acids across habitats in tropical river food webs’, Freshwater Biology, 00:1–19,
  • Robinson CJ, Macdonald J, Perry J, Bangalang N, Nayinggul A, Nadji J, Nayinggul A, Dempsey S, Nadji S, McCartney S, Taylor A, Hunter F, May K, Cooper D, Moyle F, Drummond A, Borovac C, van Bodegraven S, Gilfedder M, Setterfield S and Douglas MM (2022) ‘Coproduction mechanisms to weave Indigenous knowledge, artificial intelligence, and technical data to enable Indigenous-led adaptive decision making: lessons from Australia’s joint managed Kakadu National Park’, Ecology & Society 27(4):36,
  • Rossiter-Rachor NA, Adams VM, Canham CA, Dixon DJ, Cameron TN and Setterfield SA (2023) ‘The cost of not acting: delaying invasive grass management increases costs and threatens assets in a national park, northern Australia,’ Journal of Environmental Management 333:116785,
  • Tayer TC, Douglas MM, Cordeiro MCR, Tayer AND, Callow JN, Beesley L and McFarlane D (2023) ‘Improving the accuracy of the Water Detect algorithm using Sentinel-2, Planetscope and sharpened imagery: a case study in an intermittent river’, GIScience & Remote Sensing 60:1,
  • Tyler K, Wedd D, Crook D, Kennard M & King A. (2022) ‘Identifying drivers of tropical riverine larval fish abundance and diversity’, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, https://doi.org10.1139/cjfas-2021-0233.
  • Venarsky MP, Lowe V, Frid CLJ and Burford MA (2022) ‘Flow regimes among rivers influences benthic biota biodiversity, but not abundance or biomass, in intertidal mudflats and sandflats in wet-dry tropical estuaries’, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 271, 107858,
  • Villacorta-Rath C, Espinoza T, Cockayne B, Schaffer J and Burrows D (2022) ‘Environmental DNA analysis confirms extant populations of the cryptic Irwin’s turtle within its historical range’, BMC Ecology and Evolution, 22:57,
  • Villacorta-Rath C, Lach L, Andrade-Rodriguez N, Burrows D, Gleeson D and Trujillo-González A (2023) ‘Invasive terrestrial invertebrate detection in water and soil using a targeted eDNA approach’, NeoBiota 83: 71-89,
  • Wallace K, Kiatkoski Kim M, Álvarez-Romero JG, Pannell D, Hill R and Marshall M (2022) ‘A well-being framework for cross-cultural assessment of development scenarios: a case study from north-western Australia’, People and Nature, 00:1–17,
  • Waltham NJ, Schaffer J, Walker S, Perry J and Nordberg E (2022) ‘Simple fence modification increases land movement prospects for freshwater turtles on floodplains’, Wildlife Biology, e01012,

Selected media stories

Hub researchers involved in this project