Brisbane, Australia

Dr Wade Hadwen



Wade is a Lecturer in Griffith University’s School of Environment and Science and a researcher in the Australian Rivers Institute and the Griffith Climate Change Response Group.

He received his BSc from The University of Queensland in 1994 and worked on his Honours research at Griffith University while simultaneously undertaking a project examining an invasive insect species with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries in 1995-96. After completing his Honours, Wade worked in the Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre, based at James Cook University in Cairns, before returning to Brisbane to undertake his Doctoral research. His PhD, which examined the potential impacts of visitors on the ecology of dune lakes on Fraser Island, was awarded by Griffith University in 2003. He has since held a range of post-doctoral research positions, as well as teaching roles at Griffith University.

Wade is an aquatic ecologist by training, but his research focus is on how human and ecological systems interact. This includes assessments of visitor impacts on rivers, lakes and streams in protected areas, climate change adaptation projects in the tourism and water sectors and, most recently, evaluation of climate change adaptation options in climate-vulnerable communities in the Pacific. The common thread through all of Wade’s research is ‘water’ – especially how it is used, valued, impacted and managed. He adopts a holistic approach and works with colleagues from a wide range of disciplines to understand complex problems and identify sustainable management solutions, particularly in light of pressing climate change threats.

Wade currently convenes and teaches two courses – Science of Water and Catchment and Aquatic Ecosystem Health – in the Master of Integrated Water Management program.

Wade’s research expertise includes:

  • Aquatic ecology (freshwater and estuarine)
  • Protected area management
  • Monitoring the condition of aquatic ecosystems
  • Climate change impacts on aquatic ecosystems
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene and sustainable development in developing countries

Wade has led numerous multidisciplinary climate change adaptation research projects, which have brought together diverse research teams to focus on evaluating climate threats and identifying pathways to adaptation that avoid unintended and often regrettable ecological, social and economic consequences.

Specifically, he led a NCCARF (National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility) project to examine climate change threats and adaptation options for coastal Australia. On the back of this work, Wade also won a visiting scholarship to NCCARF, further examining issues relating to climate change adaptation in the coastal zone.

More recently, Wade led a large, trans-disciplinary team to examine water, sanitation and hygiene and climate change adaptation opportunities for vulnerable communities in the Pacific region. This project, funded by AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has resulted in lasting impacts in the case study areas, both in terms of improved understanding and changes in practice.

  • PhD in Aquatic Ecology, Griffith University
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours 1st Class) in Ecology, Griffith University
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland

Post Doctoral Fellows

  • Dr Morgan MacDonald – DFAT Development Research Award Scheme (ADRAS). Project: Climate change and water supply and sanitation on atolls and flood-prone catchments in the Pacific.
  • Dr Ben Cook – NCCARF Synthesis and Integration project – Coastal Ecosystem Response to Climate Change. 
  • Dr Joanne Green – NCCARF Synthesis and Integration project – Coastal Ecosystem Response to Climate Change.

Current PhD students

  • Mr Pat Gartrell – Drivers of coral-algal dynamics in high latitude coral reefs (co-supervised with Dr Guillermo Diaz-Pulido)
  • Mr Ellery Johnson – Allochthonous organic carbon subsidies in estuaries: The importance of inflows (co-supervised with Dr Simon Mitrovic and Dr James Hitchcock)
  • Ms Rebekah Grieger – Resilience of coastal freshwater wetland vegetation to rising sea level (co-supervised with Dr Sam Capon and Prof Brendan Mackey)
  • Mr Matthew Balzer – Freshwater flows and zooplankton responses (co-supervised with Dr Simon Mitrovic and Dr James Hitchcock)

Completed PhD students

  • Dr Thuc Phan – An Integrated Approach for Assessing the Vulnerability and Adaptation of a Coastal Water Supply and Demand System to Climate Change (co-supervised with Dr Jim Smart, Dr Oz Sahin and Dr Samantha Capon)
  • Dr James Hitchcock – The effect of environmental flows and nutrient and carbon inflows on the planktonic foodweb in the Bega River Estuary (co-supervised with Dr Simon Mitrovic at University of Technology, Sydney)
  • Dr Iris Tsoi – structure and function in benthic algal communities (co-supervised with Dr Fran Sheldon)
  • Dr Courtenay Mills – population genetic structure and ecology of fish in tropical Australian rivers (co-supervised with Prof Jane Hughes, Dr Daniel Schmidt and Dr Brad Pusey)

Completed Masters Research students

  • Ms Iris Tsoi – ecological stoichiometry in urban streams (co-supervised with Dr Christy Fellows)

Current Masters of Integrated Water Management (MIWM) Final Project students

  • Ms Lisa Walpole – How can the water sector best demonstrate ‘prudent and efficient’ investment as a means to achieve ‘altruistic’ goals?
  • Mr Jesse Godwin – Evaluation of climate change interventions and outcomes for WaSH

Completed Masters of Integrated Water Management (MIWM) Final Project students

  • Ms Camaria Holder – resilience and adaptation in the Caribbean
  • Mr Rej Winlove Bungabong – impact assessment of check dams and silt ponds in the Phillipines
  • Mr Tom Scarborough – A review of the management of intermittent estuaries from an environmental, social, economic and cultural perspective
  • Ms Malis Chheang – Climate resilience of urban and rural water supplies in Cambodia
  • Ms Tamara Valeria Garcia Quevedo – Water quality and water treatment policy in Chile
  • Mr Salley Alhassan – Mainstreaming climate change adaptation into the WaSH sector plans for sustainable development in the Bolgatanga Municipality of the Upper East Region of Ghana
  • Mr Michael Reis – Integrated Vineyard Water Management: A Framework to Improve Vineyard Sustainability Assessments
  • Ms Amira Perez – The evolution of monitoring: using IWRM to link science, monitoring and management to make Integrated Monitoring a reality
  • Ms Annie Chan – Applying the South East Queensland Healthy Waterways Model in Pearl River Delta, China – A Business Case Approach.      
  • Ms Jessica Mowat – Achieving integrated and sustainable outcomes through Ecological Restoration and Best Management Practice at Pine Rivers Wetland Reserve, SEQ
  • Mr Hendrik Jufri Sipahutar – Improving Community Resilience to Natural Disasters through Integrated Coastal Wetlands Management

Completed Honours students

  • Ms Rebekah Grieger – Resilience of coastal freshwater wetland vegetation to rising sea level (co-supervised with Dr Sam Capon)
  •  Mr Rene Delmas – Utilisation of terrestrial carbon by zooplankton: Do stable isotopes reflect assimilation? (co-supervised with Dr Simon Mitrovic and Dr James Hitchcock)
  •  Mr Ellery Johnson – Allochthonous organic carbon subsidies in estuaries: The importance of inflows (co-supervised with Dr Simon Mitrovic and Dr James Hitchcock)
  •  Ms Courtenay Mills – population genetics of estuarine glassfish (co-supervised with Prof Jane Hughes)
  •  Mr Mark Spears – isotopic variability in benthic algae and implications for food web analyses (co-supervised with Dr Mark Kennard)
  •  Ms Sally-Anne Redfearn – impacts of horse riding activities on streams in protected areas (co-supervised with Dr Fran Sheldon)

Completed summer scholarship students

  • Ms Courtenay Mills – population genetics of estuarine glassfish
  • Mr Mark Spears – the impacts of carp in subtropical river food webs
  • Mr Grant Russell – feeding ecology of fish in intermittently open estuaries


  • Grieger, R., Capon, S. J. and Hadwen, W. L. (2018) Resilience of coastal freshwater wetland vegetation to rising sea levels and altered hydrology. Regional Environmental Change https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1399-2
  • Capon, S. J., Leigh, C., Hadwen, W. L., George, A., McMahon, J. M., Linke, S., Reis, V., Gould, L. and Arthington, A. H. (2018) Transforming environmental water management to adapt to a changing climate. Frontiers in Environmental Science Front. Environ. Sci. 6:80 https://doi.org/10.3389/fenvs.2018.00080
  • Phan, T. D., Smart, J., Sahin, O., Capon, S. and Hadwen, W. L. (2018) Assessing the operational resilience of a coastal freshwater system to climatic and non-climatic changes: A system dynamics approach. Journal of Cleaner Production 183: 940-955.
  • Elliott, M., MacDonald, M. C., Chan, T., Kearton, A., Shields, K. F., Bartram, J. K. and Hadwen, W. L. (2017) Multiple household water sources and their use in remote communities, with evidence from Pacific Island communities. Water Resources Research, 53: 9106–9117. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017WR021047
  • MacDonald, M. C., Chan, T. , Elliott, M., Kearton, A., Shields, K. F., Barrington, D. J., Souter, R. T., Powell, B. R., Bartram, J. and Hadwen, W. L. (2017) Temporal and thematic trends in water, sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) research in Pacific Island Countries: A systematic review. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. doi: 10.2166/washdev.2017.021
  • Alhassan, S. and Hadwen, W. L. (2017) Challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming climate change adaptation into WaSH development planning in Ghana. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 14(7), 749; doi:10.3390/ijerph14070749
  • Tsoi, W. Y., Hadwen, W. L. and Sheldon, F. (2017) How do abiotic environmental variables shape benthic diatom assemblages in subtropical streams? Marine and Freshwater Research 68: 863-877 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF15388
  • MacDonald, M.C., Elliott, M., Chan, T., Kearton, A., Shields, K., Bartram, J. and Hadwen, W. L. (2016) Computer assisted personal interview (CAPI) surveys to assess multiple household water sources and uses. Water 8(12): 574 doi:10.3390/w8120574
  • Phan, T.D., Smart, J. C. R., Capon, S. J., Hadwen, W. L. and Sahin, O. (2016) Applications of Bayesian Belief Networks in water resource management: A systematic review. Environmental Modelling and Software 85: 98-111
  • Hitchcock, J. N., Mitrovic, S. M., Hadwen, W. L., Growns, I. O. Rohlfs, A-E. (2016), Zooplankton responses to freshwater inflows and organic matter pulses in a wave-dominated estuary. Marine and Freshwater Research 67: 1374-1386.
  • Saunders, S. G., Barrington, D. J., Sridharan, S., Meo, S., Hadwen, W. L., Shields, K. F., Souter, R. and Bartram, J. (2016) Addressing water, sanitation and hygiene challenges in Pacific Island Countries: A participatory systems mapping approach to empower informal settlement community action. Habitat International 55: 159-166.
  • Sheldon, F., Leigh, C., Neilan, W., Newham, M., Polson, C. and Hadwen, W. (2018) Urbanization: Hydrology, water quality, and influences on ecosystem health. In: Approaches to Water Sensitive Urban Design 1st Edition. Pp.615 Woodhead Publishing, Sept 2018.
  • Morgan, E. A., Hallgren, W., Nalau, J., Hadwen, W., Sahin, O., Helfer, F., Lee, S., Onyango, E. and Mackey, B. (2016). Implications of the Paris Climate Change Agreement for Adaptation Research and Universities, in Handbook of Climate Change Research at Universities: addressing the mitigation and adaptation challenges, Series: Climate Change Management, Leal Filho, W. (Ed.), forthcoming.

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