Dr Alisha Steward, Queensland Government, Department of Environment and Science
See Alisha’s full research profile here.
What are your research interests as they relate to northern Australia?
The big wets and big dries in northern Australia are like nowhere else in the country. I am particularly interested in the shift from wet to dry, and what that means for intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams. My PhD research on the ecology of dry riverbeds focused on the terrestrial invertebrates that inhabit them. I continue to work on terrestrial invertebrates in a range of projects, including their use as ecological indicators of river health in the absence of water. I have also recently been involved in projects examining the impacts of feral pigs on wetlands in northern Queensland.
What do you love about working in northern Australia?
For me it is the remoteness – you can drive for days and days and hardly see another vehicle. I also love the numerous areas of natural beauty, and the abundant wildlife. Field trips almost always involved camping, and although field trips are hard work, it is sometimes hard to believe that they are part of the job and not a holiday. I enjoyed working in the Mitchell River catchment, and one of my favourite places to work was along the Lynd River – a spectacular, little-known river, with little access via major roads except for where it joins the Mitchell. Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park is another favourite, and is incredibly beautiful, particularly Lawn Hill Gorge. In stark contrast to the surrounding red landscape, the gorge is an oasis of palm trees and emerald water that looks very much out of place. When I first set eyes on it I was gobsmacked. It felt like I had stumbled on to a movie set! I am also fond of the Einasleigh River and the stunning contrast between the sand and large boulders.