Stephanie completed a Bachelor and Master of Science at Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. She moved to Townsville to undertake her PhD in systematic conservation planning with supervisors Bob Pressey, Richard Pearson, Jeremy VanDerWal and Kristen Williams. She is interested in conservation planning of freshwater systems. Her research at JCU focuses on systematic planning and the development of classifications for streams in the Wet Tropics bioregion. She aims for her work to contribute towards integrated land-sea coastal plan for North Queensland, currently being developed along with colleagues in Professor Bob Pressey’s Lab at James Cook University.
The Wet Tropics bioregion is nationally and globally significant in its diversity of fishes and aquatic macroinvertebrates. Yet, there has been limited attention given to conservation and protection of streams that support this high species diversity. Additionally, widespread forest clearing and drainage for agriculture has caused loss and degradation of streams and riparian habitats, with few data on the extent and severity of these changes. To address current gaps in knowledge of these systems and their poor conservation status, we are developing biologically and socially informed classifications of streams to guide the identification of conservation priorities. To measure how informative classifications can be for conservation priority setting we are exploring different approaches to classification and target setting, and how losses and gains of data content, quality, and quantity can influence conservation outcomes such as the representation of species. We aim to involve stakeholders throughout each of the key phases of the project by calling on their expertise during the development of the classification as well as validating future scenarios and interpreting scenario influences on the classifications and conservation priority setting.