Dr Rod Oliver

Dr Rod Oliver.

Dr Rod Oliver: researching aquatic ecology, water quality and environmental flows

Dr Rod Oliver researches the effects of environmental change on micro-biota, food web structures, and water quality in rivers, lakes and wetlands to improve guidelines for waterways management.

  • 7 July 2011 | Updated 28 May 2013

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Rod Oliver is a Senior Principal Research Scientist and leads the Catchment Biogeochemistry and Aquatic Ecology research program in CSIRO Land and Water.

He is a freshwater ecologist whose primary research interests are the influence of physical and chemical conditions on the dynamics of micro-algal populations in aquatic ecosystems, and the effects of changes on the structure and functioning of aquatic food webs.

Research topics of particular interest include:

  • identifying and managing conditions leading to blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
  • assessing the enhanced micro-algal growth resulting from nutrient enrichment of aquatic systems (eutrophication)
  • determining the influence of flows and water mixing on the light climate and suspension of micro-algae.
  • measuring river metabolism and identifying sources of organic material supporting aquatic food webs
  • developing and applying fluorescence techniques for rapidly assessing the biomass and physiological condition of micro-algae
  • linking wetland and floodplain connectivity to river system condition
  • assessing the need and ecological benefits of environmental flows to river channels, floodplains and receiving systems
  • using molecular techniques to identify community composition and food web connections of aquatic microbiota.


Dr Oliver has over 25 years' research experience in aquatic ecology with a focus on phytoplankton and water quality issues.

Dr Oliver has over 25 years research experience in aquatic ecology with a focus on phytoplankton and water quality issues.

During this period he has led major projects for the:

  • Murray-Darling Basin Commission
  • Land & Water Australia
  • Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Freshwater Ecology
  • CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship.

Other significant research management roles have included:

  • Research Program Leader of the Catchment Biogeochemistry and Aquatic Ecology research program in CSIRO Land and Water (since 2010)
  • Leader of the “Ecological Outcomes” project – a large, multi-disciplinary, cross-Divisional project within CSIRO's Water for a Healthy Country Flagship (2003-07)
  • Bid team member, Program Leader, Project Leader and Management Committee Member in the CRC for Freshwater Ecology (1993-99)
  • Leader, Limnology of Regulated Rivers, Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre (1988-93).

Academic qualifications

Dr Oliver has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Science (Honours) from the University of Adelaide, South Australia in 1977
  • Doctor of Philosophy also from the University of Adelaide in 1982.


Dr Oliver has received professional recognition throughout his career with highlights including:

  • Affiliate Associate Professor, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Adelaide University (since 2011)
  • invited member, Advisory Committee, University of Adelaide Water Research Centre (since 2009)
  • invited to collaborate with Texas A & M University on a research cruise aimed at identifying phytoplankton nutrient limitation in the Gulf of Mexico (2004)
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, LaTrobe University (2003–2006)
  • Senior Visiting Research Fellow, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Lake Biwa Research Institute (2001)
  • Keynote speaker, Rotorua Lakes 2001 symposium, organised by the Lakes Water Quality Society and The Royal Society of New Zealand (2001)
  • invited participant, cyanobacterial risk assessment project for Lake Biwa, Japan (1997)
  • invited speaker, Robertson Symposium on Chlorophyll Fluorescence, Australian National University (2004)
  • invited participant, Lake Biwa Transport Experiment (BITEX 1993), Otsu, Japan (1992–93)
  • Vice-president and President, Australian Society for Limnology (1988–89)
  • invited participant, International Workshop on the dominance of bloom-forming cyanobacteria, DSIR, Taupo Laboratory, New Zealand (1987)
  • invited participant, 4th International Workshop on Photosynthetic Prokaryotes, Bombannes, France (1983)
  • NERC funded Research Associate, Bristol University, UK (1981-84).

Professional activities

Dr Oliver is a member of:

  • Australian Society for Limnology
  • American Society for Limnology and Oceanography
  • International Society for Limnology.

He has contributed to professional committees including:

  • Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Working Group on Phytoplankton (1988)
  • Working Group on restructuring the Victorian State Water Quality Assessment Programme, Rural Water Commission of Victoria (1989–91)
  • Scientific Advisory Team to the NSW Algal Bloom Task Force (1991–92)
  • Technical Advisory Group for the Murray Darling Basin Commission dealing with sources transport and availability of nutrients (1993)
  • NSW State Technical Advisory Committee on Integrated monitoring of environmental flows (1998-2003)
  • Assessor for the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia, (1994–2002)
  • Advisory Committee of the University of Adelaide Water Research Centre (since 2008).

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