Dr Chris Humphrey – BSc (Hons), PhD

Supervising Scientist research profiles


Dr Chris Humprey leads the ERISS Aquatic Ecosystems Protection program. He has a background in freshwater ecology and has spent most of his research career investigating tropical streams of northern Australia. A particular focus of his research has been the development, implementation and refinement of environmental monitoring programs used to assess potential human impacts (including mining) upon freshwater ecosystems. Chris has been involved in national and international river health and remediation programs and has represented the department on a number of scientific committees associated with related programs. He has also authored and played a key technical coordination role in the previous and ongoing revisions of the Australian & New Zealand Water Quality Guidelines. Recent mine-related research includes the development of post-mining closure criteria for both revegetated landforms and freshwater ecosystems.

Areas of expertise and research interests

Tropical freshwater ecology; developing techniques river health monitoring and assessment; experimental design and analysis for river health assessments; developing water quality guidelines

Current key projects

  • Experimental design and analysis for biological monitoring programs used to assess human-related impacts on streams
  • Distribution and ecology of freshwater invertebrates across Australia’s wet-dry tropics
  • Development of toxicity monitoring techniques in tropical streams
  • The toxicity of uranium to sediment biota of Magela Creek backflow billabong environments
  • Relative sensitivities of different stream invertebrate taxa to a range of human-related impacts, including mine-derived contamination
  • Development of post-mining closure criteria for both revegetated landforms and freshwater ecosystems
  • Studies of endemic macrocrustaceans in the central sandstone country (Arnhem/Kakadu) of the NT’s Top End
  • Taxonomic resolution for biological assessment of mining impacts in seasonally-flowing streams of northern Australia
  • Development of water quality guidelines for national implementation

Key publications

Wilson GDF, Humphrey CL, Colgan DJ, Gray KA & Johnson RN 2009. Monsoon-influenced speciation patterns in a species flock of Eophreatoicus Nicholls (Isopoda; Crustacea)  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 51(2), 349–364.

Humphrey C, Hanley J & Camilleri C 2008. Report 6: Aquatic invertebrates. In GP Lukacs & CM Finlayson (eds) 2008. A Compendium of Ecological Information on Australia’s Northern Tropical Rivers. Sub-project 1 of Australia’s Tropical Rivers – an integrated data assessment and analysis (DET18) . A report to Land & Water Australia. National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research, Townsville, Queensland.

Humphrey C, van Dam R, Storey A, Chandler L, Hogan A & Buckle D 2008. Assessment of the effects of MgSO4-rich wastewater discharges from Argyle Diamond Mine on downstream aquatic ecosystems: Synthesis of a three year (2006-08) study. Commercial-in-Confidence Report for Argyle Diamonds Ltd, November 2008.

Batley GE, Humphrey CL, Apte SC & Stauber JL 2003. A guide to the application of the ANZECC/ARMCANZ Water Quality Guidelines in the minerals industry . Australian Centre for Environmental Research, Brisbane.

Humphrey CL, Barmuta LA, Davies PE, Davis JA, Mapstone BD, Trayler KM, Ward TJ & Biggs BJF 2001. Incorporating biological assessment into new generation water quality guidelines in Australia and New Zealand.  Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology 7(1), 65–80.

Humphrey CL, Storey AW & Thurtell L 2000. AUSRIVAS: operator sample processing errors and temporal variability-implications for model sensitivity. In Assessing the biological quality of fresh waters. RIVPACS and other techniques, eds JF Wright, DW Sutcliffe & MT Furse, Freshwater Biological Association, Ambleside, 143–163.

Humphrey CL, Faith DP & Dostine PL 1995. Baseline requirements for assessment of mining impact using biological monitoring . Australian Journal of Ecology 20, 150–166.

Humphrey CL & Dostine P 1994. Development of biological monitoring programs to detect mining waste impacts upon aquatic ecosystems of the Alligator Rivers Region, Northern Territory, Australia. Mitteilungen Internationalis Vereinigung Limnologiae 24, 293–314

SSD publications

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