profile icon

Robert Day

Associate Professor
Ocean acidification
Marine biology
climate change
Robert Day's Profile Picture

Robert Day

Primary Interest
Abalone aquaculture
Robert Day's Profile Picture

Robert Day


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 affected sessile fauna. When I arrived at The University of Melbourne in 1980 I gained grants for projects on both sessile fauna and abalone, but soon found work on abalone had more obvious social benefits, led to more collaborations, and attracted more predictable funding. Thus my work has become more applied, but broadened to take on many aspects of fisheries related research, as well as aquaculture research and more strategic ecological research.

Scholarly Works

Displaying the 198 most recent scholarly works by Robert Day.

Honours, Awards and Fellowships


2018 Aust Council of Graduate Research Award


For contributions to research on abalone biology

International Abalone Society


For scientific collaorative research



Research Travel Award

Australian Museum


Honours Class medal

University of Cape Town





Associate Professor


Scientific Society, Vice President Victoria Branch

Australian Marine Science Association Vic Branch (AMSA)

Advisory Body

Victorian Coastal Council Science Panel

Scientific Society, National Council Member


Scientific Society, Secretary

International Abalone Society

Scientific Society, Chair, Education Subcommittee

Australian Society for Fish Biology

Develops Australian Standards On Diving

Standards Australia SF17 committee on Occupational diving

Scientific Society

Royal Society of Victoria


Doctor of Philosophy

University of Sydney

Bachelor of Science (Honours)

University of Cape Town