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A/PROF Robert Day


  • Abalone aquaculture
  • Aquaculture (Mariculture, abalone, stress immune function)
  • Effect of acidification on marine species (Ocean acidification, climate change, Marine ecosystems)
  • Marine Biology, Fisheries Dynamics (Fishery, aquaculture, ecology, management, abalone, modeling)
  • Marine ecology of molluscs (Marine biology, community ecology)
  • Shell calcification in molluscs
  • The management of fisheries, especially the stock dynamics and biology of abalone



  • I am a marine ecologist who is committed to the use of rigorous experimental research both to tackle important applied questions and to develop ecological theory. My focus is on the dynamics of fisheries populations, especially abalone, but my work extends also to abalone aquaculture; and the fisheries biology of chondrichthyans (sharks and their relatives) in collaboration with Terry Walker, and on the effects of Ocean acidification on the formation of carbonate skeletons (shells) in marine organisms. My interests are broad: many questions about how the natural world works fascinate me, and I have published work for example on how sessile animal populations compete for space; how infauna are affected by predators; how animals can be aged; and escape responses to seastars. My most cited paper deals with how experimental treatments should be compared statistically. Current interests include how shell parasites interact with their hosts; how stress affects the immune status of abalone; what factors enhance collaborative management of fisheries; and how compensatory growth may affect fisheries managment models. Much of this work requires collaboration accross disciplines - integrated interdisciplinary research.

    I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, matriculated from Diocesan College (Bishops), and obtained my BSc at the University of Cape Town, including Maths, Statistics and a BSC honours in Zoology. After a year in the navy studying fouling organisms, I took up an offer to do a PhD on the Great Barrier Reef, supervised by Charles Birch at The University of Sydney. My research focused on the ecology of sessile organisms on Heron and One Tree reefs, supported by the Australian Museum. This research led to a postdoc with Prof J Connell in UC Santa Barbara. At UCSB I ran a Seagrant project to seed hatchery reared abalone onto reefs in the hope of enhancing the fishery, and also worked with Rick Osman on how the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station affe   


Member of

  • Victorian Coastal Council Science Panel. Advisory Body 1997 - 2010
  • AMSA. Scientific Society, National Council Member 1996 - 2010
  • International Abalone Society. Scientific Society, Secretary 1994 - 2010
  • Australian Society for Fish Biology. Scientific Society, Chair, Education subcommittee 1992 - 2010
  • Standards Australia SF17 committee on Occupational diving. Develops Australian standards on diving 1991 - 2010
  • Royal Society of Victoria. Scientific Society 1982 - 2010
  • Australian Marine Science Association Vic Branch (AMSA). Scientific Society, Vice President Victoria Branch 2006 - 2009


Selected publications


Investigator on

Additional Grant Information

  • Co-investigator on FRDC project: Assessment and reef-scale modelling of abalone stocks after disease, led by Dr Harry Gorfine

    Collaborator with Dr Simon Morley from British Antarctic Survey on effects of temperature change and ocean acidification on molluscs



Education and training

  • PhD, University of Sydney 1977
  • BSc (Hons), University of Cape Town 1970

Awards and honors

  • 2018 Aust Council of Graduate Research Award, 2018
  • For scientific collaorative research, Feast-France, 2003
  • For contributions to research on abalone biology, International Abalone Society, 2003
  • Research Travel Award, Australian Museum, 1972
  • Honours Class medal, University of Cape Town, 1970



Available for supervision

  • Y