Kim Jenkins

Dr Kim Jenkins

Role: Senior Lecturer


Contact details:

Phone: +61 2 9385 2066
Office: Room 514, D26 Building, UNSW, Kensington 2052

Google Scholar Profile

Research Focus

My research program in freshwater ecology is focused on invertebrate prey in food webs and ecosystem processes at broad ecosystem scales. I am intrigued by the relationships between food webs and water regimes, particularly in arid zone rivers and wetlands where whole food webs miraculously colonise after flooding, despite being dry for many years.

My prey connections project is seeking evidence of connectivity between regulated creeks and floodplain wetlands during small and large environmental flow releases compared to dry periods with constant low flows. This project examines food webs using stable isotope analysis, gut contents of fish and composition of invertebrate communities. Most recently we have included insectivorous bats as well as fish predators.

A key feature of my research program is the strong collaborative links with stakeholders to adaptively manage systems. I lead a UNSW partnership on a Charles Sturt University led project monitoring the ecological responses to Commonwealth environmental water in the Murrumbidgee River. This large multidisciplinary team includes scientists and stakeholders from universities, Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority, and NSW Department of Primary Industries. We are currently developing a five-year monitoring and evaluation plan to monitor outcomes of watering with Commonwealth water purchased through government water buyback.

My research program has identified sensitive indicators for assessing the success or failure of flow restoration in floodplain wetlands. We’ve demonstrated that loss of flooding impacts on biogeochemical processes, altering metabolic pathways, biodiversity and trophic interactions. As well as publishing findings in the scientific literature, I frequently participate in government workshops and have co-ordinated an expert panel. More recently, I reviewed the impacts of climate change in freshwater ecosystems and am undertaking collaborative research on projected temperature increases and flow reductions.


Student Projects

  • Sylvia Hay (PhD) is examining refugia (persistent pools, dry sediments) and colonisation for macroinvertebrates in the upland and lowland Macquarie catchment.
  • Luke McPhan (PhD) is starting to examine food webs for larval and juvenile fish in regulated and unregulated floodplain rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin.
  • Bradley Clarke-Wood (Honours) studied the impact of urbanisation on insectivorous bat biodiversity, investigating heavy metal contamination of insectivorous bats and changes to their food web structure
  • Claire Sives (Honours) examined the impact of reduced flooding on floodplain food webs in the Macquarie Marshes.


Author Date Title Link PDF
Clarke-Wood et al. 2016 The ecological response of insectivorous bats to coastal lagoon degradation

Coastal lagoons provide key habitat for a wide range of biota but are often degraded by intense urbanization pressures. Insectivorous bats use these highly productive ecosystems and are likely to be impacted by their decline in quality. We compared bat activity and richness and invertebrate biomass and richness across a gradient of lagoon quality (9 lagoons) in the Greater Sydney region, Australia to determine the extent to which bats and their prey were impacted by lagoon degradation. Bats were more diverse and 19 times more active at higher quality lagoons. The trawling bat, Myotis macropus, was absent from all low quality lagoons, but these lagoons were used by other species such as Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis. Invertebrate richness and biomass did not differ significantly across lagoon quality. We examined potential mechanisms of insectivorous bat decline at degraded lagoons by measuring toxic metal concentrations in bat fur, invertebrates and sediment. Lead and zinc were detected at environmentally significant levels in the sediments of lower quality lagoons. Furthermore, lead concentrations were 6 times the lowest observable adverse effects level for small mammals in the hair of one individual M. macropus. The present study demonstrates that coastal lagoons support a rich bat community, but ongoing development and pollution of these habitats is likely to negatively impact on insectivorous bat species, especially trawling species.


Boulton et al. 2013 Good news: Progress in successful conservation and restoration.
Dahm et al. 2013 The role of science in planning, policy and conservation of river ecosystems: Examples from Australia and the United States
Bino et al. 2013 Adaptive management of Ramsar wetlands View PDF
Jenkins et al. 2013 Monitoring of ecosystem responses to the delivery of environmental water in the Lower Murrumbidgee River and wetlands, 2011‐2012.
Jenkins et al. 2011 Climate change and freshwater ecosystems in Oceania: an assessment of vulnerability and adaptation opportunities
Jenkins et al. 2011 Invertebrate monitoring and modeling in the Macquarie Marshes
Kingsford et al. 2010 Measuring ecosystem responses to flow across organism scales. Northern Basin Southern Basin: Ecosystem Response Modelling in the Murray Darling Basin
Jenkins et al. 2009 Developing Indicators for Floodplain Wetlands: Managing Water in Agricultural Landscapes
Rayner et al. 2009 Small environmental flows, drought and the role of refugia for freshwater fish in the Macquarie Marshes, arid Australia
Jenkins et al. 2009 Waterbird diet, foraging and food analysis: Narran Lakes ibis breeding event 2008
Armstrong et al. 2009 The effect of regulating the Lachlan River on the Booligal Wetlands - the floodplain red gum swamps View PDF
Kim Jenkins 2009 Healthy wetlands: investigating the wet and dry
Green et al. 2008 The potential role of waterbirds in dispersing invertebrates and plants in arid Australia
Kim Jenkins 2007 Detecting impacts and setting restoration targets in arid-zone rivers: aquatic microinvertebrates responses to loss of floodplain inundation
Boulton, A.J. 2006 Natural disturbance and aquatic invertebrates in desert rivers
Kim Jenkins 2005 A common parched future? Research and management of Australian arid-zone floodplain wetlands
Kingsford et al. 2004 Imposed hydrological stability on lakes in arid Australia and effects on waterbirds
Kim Jenkins 2003 Ecological connectivity in a dryland river: short-term aquatic micoinvertebrate recruitment following floodplain inundation
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