Dr Alastair Hirst is a marine ecologist with an interest in the community ecology of benthic ecosystems. He has held a number of positions across a diverse career spanning 18 years, most recently as senior research scientist at the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI). Alastair’s recent research interests have focussed on Port Phillip Bay, particularly the ecology of seagrass, demersal fish and introduced species assemblages. As part of these projects Alastair has been using a combination of historical seagrass mapping, archives of fish age , growth and recruitment, hydrodynamic and catchment modelling (in conjunction with the EPA), and time series of fisheries independent sampling to examine the environmental drivers of ecological change in seagrass and fish communities in Port Phillip Bay. These insights will be important in managing the condition of Port Phillip Bay in the future, by providing an historical perspective of the environmental drivers of change.
In 2007, Alastair undertook the first benthic ecological survey of Bathurst Harbour and Port Davey in SW Tasmania
Alastair is currently working on two major projects:
- An investigation of the sustainability of the sand flathead (Platycephalus bassensis) fishery in Port Phillip Bay. Sand flathead were once the most popular recreational fishery in the bay, but the population has declined by 85% between 2000 and 2010. This project aims to identify the causes of this decline and develop strategies to re-build stocks
- An examination of the environmental drivers of seagrass resilience and health in Port Phillip Bay as part of a four-year DEPI funded project.