Sophie Hewitt

Sophie Hewitt

PhD Student
Centre for Ecosystem Science
Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences

I graduated from UNSW with a Bachelor of Environmental Management and a Bachelor of Science (Honours in Ecology) from UNSW in 2021. I became interested in wetland ecology and environmental water management after working as a researcher for an environmental consultancy specialising in water policy within the Murray-Darling Basin. This led me to undertake a PhD at UNSW which is focused on wetland restoration within the Macquarie Marshes. I have since undertaken roles as a research assistant at UNSW and environmental scientist within the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Project: Tracking the restoration trajectories of the Macquarie Marshes Ramsar listed wetland

Supervised by: Prof. Richard Kingsford and Dr. Gilad Bino

Project Description: The Macquarie Marshes is one of the largest remaining semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia. It is recognised globally as an area with high biodiversity and conservation value and was listed as a Ramsar wetland of international importance in 1986. Despite its international status the Macquarie Marshes are facing decline primarily due to disruption of natural flow regimes caused by threats such as river regulation and climate change.

My research aims to explore how to optimise the utility of environmental flows by investigating the ecological interactions between flow/inundation and key ecological assets within the Macquarie Marshes such as waterbirds and riverine eucalypts. This involves a combination of fieldwork (e.g. UAV monitoring of waterbird breeding colonies and vegetation surveys) and exploration of long-term data sets. My aim is to provide insights that will directly inform strategic environmental water management decisions, ensuring the protection and enhancement of the Macquarie Marshes and similar at risk ecosystems within Australia.

Contact Details

Hewitt, SC., Leggett, K., Letnic, M. (2024) The role of shade in influencing dung deposition and nutrient transfer by kangaroos (Macropus spp.) in an arid landscape. Journal of Arid Environments 222. doi: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2024.105168

Brandis, K., Hewitt, S., Smith, M., Stewart, J., Juilliard, L., McEvoy, T., Francis, R. (2023) Macquarie Marshes Breeding Waterbirds Reproductive Success Monitoring 2022-23. Final report to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office. Centre for Ecosystem Science, UNSW.