Gordon O'Brien

Gordon O’Brien

Dr Gordon Craig O’Brien

Programme Leader


Dr. Gordon Craig O’Brien is an established aquatic risk ecologist who obtained his Doctor of Philosophy in Aquatic Health in 2012 from the University of Johannesburg. Dr. O’Brien specialises in regional scale ecological risk assessments, ichthyology, environmental flow (E-flow) assessments, aquatic biodiversity, ecosystem services and water resource management. His scientific profile includes the development of and application of regional scale ecological risk assessments methodologies, and E-flow management tools and frameworks. Dr. O’Brien is particularly interested in the evaluation of the relative risk of multiple stressors on a region scale to multiple socio-ecological endpoints and trade-offs between endpoints, where the dynamics of the ecosystem are addressed.

Some noticeable products of Dr. O’Brien’s ecological risk assessment research includes the development of PROBFLO, a holistic, ecological risk based E-flow assessment method for the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water Transfer Study, which has now been tested throughout Africa. Dr. O’Brien is also a co-developer the FISHTRAC and the South African Swimway programme for the management and conservation of inland migratory fishes in particular, and river connectivity. The FISHTRAC programme incorporates the use of fish behavioural monitoring techniques to characterise the behavioural ecology fishes for water resource management. Dr. O’Brien also has worked extensively on aspects of the biology and ecology of freshwater and estuarine fishes and the development of and application of various fish community metric measures or indicator tools.

Dr. O’Brien is a specialist scientist and programme manager at the Aquatic Ecosystem Research Programme (AER) of the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Pietermaritzburg. Within the AER, Gordon manages more than ten post-graduate Ph.D and M.Sc students and specialist researchers which offers ecological risk, freshwater and estuarine aquatic ecology, E-flow management and other natural scientific services. Gordon has numerous peer reviewed scientific publications and established collaborations with international scientists from Africa, The Netherlands, Australia, United Kingdom and the United States of America, working with these international experts on various international projects and programmes. Gordon is a father of three and with his family aspires to make a positive contribution to the lives of many people, the way we use the world and look after it.

He’s on Research Gate, here, where all publications are available.

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