Dr Kathryn Taffs BA(Hons)(Adel) PhD(Adel) 

Kathryn is a senior lecturer in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering. She
teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and actively researches in the fields of
palaeoecology and conservation biology. 

Kathryn's research focuses on the study of changes in wetland biota and the
environment over time. Using palaeolimnological techniques wetland studies can be
extended with the further dimension of geologic time. Management of wetland environments
is dependent upon an understanding of how an ecosystem has responded to climate and human
induced changes in the past. With an understanding of past wetland dynamics, realistic
remediation targets for ecosystem rehabilitation can be established and incorporated into
management plans. 

Kathryn's research concentrates on the use of pollen and diatom microfossils in
addition to stable isotopes to reconstruct the environmental history of wetland
ecosystems and estuaries over time. Projects are underway on coastal environments of
eastern Australia and vary from coastal lakes and ICOLLS to large estuaries. Some
specific projects in progress are: 

* the history of eutrophication of ICOLLS in eastern Australia 

* the environmental history of eastern Australian estuaries with emphasis on

* the establishment of a diatom based calibration set for coastal eastern Australia 

All projects investigate the history of wetland ecosystems and aim to improve the
ecosystem health and stability by setting realistic remediation targets that can be
incorporated into conservation strategies. Existing projects vary from the establishment
and description of estuarine algal communities to incorporation of this data in
palaeolimnological reconstructions. Other projects examine environmental degradation and
recovery in lake and estuaries of the east coast of Australia. 

Journal articles


Diatom community response to climate variability over the past 37,000 years in the sub-tropics of the Southern Hemisphere (with Sarah C. Hembrow, Pia Atahan, Jeffrey F. Parr, Atun Zawadzki, and Henk Heijnis), Science of The Total Environment (2014)

Climate change is impacting global surface water resources, increasing the need for a deeper understanding...



Establishing ecological reference conditions and tracking post-application effectiveness of lanthanum-saturated bentonite clay (Phoslock®) for reducing phosphorus in aquatic systems: an applied paleolimnological approach (with Melissa T. Moos, B J. Longstaff, and B K. Ginn), Journal of Environmental Management (2014)

nnovative management strategies for nutrient enrichment of freshwater are important in the face of this...



Glacial and Holocene terrestrial temperature variability in subtropical east Australia as inferred from branched GDGT distributions in a sediment core from Lake McKenzie (with Martijn Woltering, Pia Atahan, Kliti Grice, Henk Heijnis, and John Dodson), Quaternary Research (2014)

Branched glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT) distributions observed in a sediment core from Lake McKenzie...



Investigating student use and value of e-learning resources to develop academic writing within the discipline of environmental science (with Julienne I. Holt), Journal of Geography in Higher Education (2013)

The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in higher education to support student learning...



Relationship between diatoms and water quality (TN, TP) in sub-tropical east Australian estuaries (with Brendan Logan), Journal of Paleolimnology (2013)

Nutrient over-enrichment of estuarine environments is increasing globally. However, it is difficult to determine the...



Mapping the environment: a professional development manual (with William E. Boyd), School of Environmental Science and Management Papers (2004)

This book provides a basis for developing skills in the most fundamental techniques used, and...


Book chapters


The evolution of a coastal peatland at Byron Bay, Australia: multi-proxy evidence from the microfossil record (with Brendan Logan, Jeffrey F. Parr, and Geraldine E. Jacobsen), Terra Australis 34: peopled landscapes: archaeological and biogeographic approaches to landscapes (2012)

This impressive collection celebrates the work of Peter Kershaw, a key figure in the field...


The last 200 years: a European history, Remnants of Gondwana: a natural and social history of the Gondwana rainforests of Australia (2010)

The rainforests of Australia cover only 4% of Australia's land mass but contain 50% of...


Fires impact on an acidic peatland in northeastern NSW: implications for the interpretation of fire histories, pyrite formation and loss of organic carbon (with Jeffrey F. Parr, Geoffrey Kerr, and J Arthur), Interdisciplinary nuances in phytolith and other microfossil studies (2008)

Conference publications

Historical nutrients status in the Richmond River in the absence of monitoring data (with Brendan Logan), 18th NSW Coastal Conference (2009)

Reconstructing fire histories: methods, interpretation and common on-ground across fire history research in Australia (with Jeffrey F. Parr, Geoffrey Kerr, J Arthur, Keith G. Bolton, and Geraldine E. Jacobson), Australasian Archaeometry Conference (2005)


A monitoring program for the recovery of Salty Lagoon, Evans Head, NSW, WP Consultants and Richmond Valley Council (2007)

Forensics report (with Jeffrey F. Parr), Forensics Department, NSW Police (2007)

West Byron wetland vegetation history report. Unpublished. (with Jeffrey F. Parr), School of Environmental Science and Management Papers (2002)