ARC Grant-Funded Researcher B
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.
My work centers on the recovery of lost marine ecosystems. This research seeks to understand and leverage the ecological and social complexities of marine socio-ecological systems, so we can develop solutions that ensure marine habitat restoration is both a social and environmental success. My research focuses on four main areas:
o Investigating the role of ecological interactions and technology in accelerating the restoration of lost shellfish reefs.
o Understanding how shellfish ecosystems, particularly oysters, enhance the resilience and function of coastal ecosystems.
o Developing conservation messaging strategies that leverage people’s cognitive biases to enhance public engagement with conservation.
o Understanding the socio-political drivers of conservation successes so they can be disseminated and replicated.
Marine ecology and restoration are my bread-and-butter, but I am deeply fascinated by conservation psychology and what makes conservation efforts successful. I love all things oyster and communicating science to diverse audiences. Naturally, I am part of Australia's Shellfish Reef Restoration Network's communication team.
I work closely with Prof Sean Connell on the restoration of southern Australia's lost shellfish reefs, and on developing strategies that use the cognitive biases of people to enhance public engagement with conservation. This research aims to both improve the way we restore marine habitats and how we communicate their value to the broader public, so we can build the productivity and adaptability of Australia's marine ecosystems through large-scale restoration of oyster reefs of high social value.
Australia's sole remaining Flat oyster reef in Tasmania. We are working to bring them back. Photo: SD Connell.
The restoration of Australia's lost shellfish reefs
My research focuses on improving the way we restore marine habitats, including strategies to accelerate the rate of restoration. Much of our field research occurs on South Australia's two shellfish reef restorations: Windara Reef - Australia's first large-scale reef restoration (20 hectare), and Glenelg Reef (construction Nov 2020).
We are interested in all aspects of reef restoration, with a primary focus on enhancing the recruitment and survival of oysters to the reef, ensuring it's long-term growth and performance. Projects include developing multi-species restoration approaches that boost oyster performance; understanding the spatio-temporal dynamics of natural recruitment to maximise reef recovery; targeting for restoration the habitat traits that support ecological function, and; developing and testing marine technologies (e.g. underwater speakers) that can accelerate restoration processes. I am happy to discuss any related or new project ideas, and our rapidly developing marine technology research.
This restoration research is in partnership with South Australia's Department for Environment and Water, while our marine technology work is a research collaboration with environmental engineering NGO, AusOcean.
Multi‐species restoration accelerates recovery of extinguished oyster reefs. McAfee et al. 2020, Journal of Applied Ecology.
Leveraging the cognitive biases of people to improve effective conservation messaging
My research with communication scientists looks to bridge the gap between ecology and conservation psychology to develop a communication strategy that ignites public interest. Public engagement provides a foundation for large-scale restoration initiatives as public support legitimises Government investment in restoration. Yet, evidence on the most effective way to communicate conservation issues is limited. Communicating a balance between environmental challenges and optimism for positive environmental change has the potential to improve conservation messaging, and my research examines how the psychological mechanisms of optimism resonates with the intended audience.
This research seeks to understand the psychological levers and social practices that inform human perspectives and behaviour towards the environment, so we can use this knowledge to enhance public engagement with conservation. I am particularly interested in understanding the socio-cultural perspectives that coastal communities and industries have of marine restoration projects, which can provide clues on what information is likely to resonate and spark greater engagement with restoration efforts. Such knowledge holds promise for not only improving communication of restoration efforts, but with environmental science more generally. Projects take many forms, so get in touch to here more.
Everyone loves a success story: optimism inspires conservation engagement. McAfee et al. 2019, BioScience.
Other research interests: Ecosystem based management; tests of ecosystem engineering theory; climate-adaptation strategies for coastal systems; invertebrate physiology; mangrove ecology
Date Position Institution name 2017 - ongoing Postdoctoral Research Associate The University of Adelaide 2016 - 2017 Research assistant Sydney Institute of Marine Science 2016 - 2016 Endeavour Research Fellow The University of Hong Kong 2015 - ongoing Communication committee Shellfish Reef Restoration Network 2013 - 2017 Biological Science tutor (part-time) Macquarie University, Sydney
Date Institution name Country Title 2013 - 2017 Macquarie University, Sydney Australia PhD 2007 - 2012 Macquarie University, Sydney Australia BSc (Hon1)
Year Citation 2022 Jones, A., Alleway, H., Reis Santos, P., Mcafee, D., Theuerkauf, S., & Jones, R. (2022). Climate-Friendly Seafood: The potential for emissions reduction and carbon capture in marine aquaculture. Bioscience, 72(2), 123-143.
2022 McAfee, D., Bishop, M. J., & Williams, G. A. (2022). Temperature-buffering by oyster habitat provides temporal stability for rocky shore communities. Marine Environmental Research, 173, 7 pages.
2022 Williams, B. R., McAfee, D., & Connell, S. D. (2022). Oyster larvae swim along gradients of sound. Journal of Applied Ecology, 10 pages.
2021 Riera, R., Rodríguez, R., McAfee, D., & Connell, S. D. (2021). The COVID-19 lockdown provides clues for better science communication on environmental recovery. Environmental Conservation, 49(1), 1-3.
2021 McAfee, D., Larkin, C., & Connell, S. D. (2021). Multi-species restoration accelerates recovery of extinguished oyster reefs. Journal of Applied Ecology, 58(2), 286-294.
DOI Scopus4 WoS3
2021 McAfee, D., & Connell, S. D. (2021). The global fall and rise of oyster reefs. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 19(2), 118-125.
DOI Scopus5 WoS5
2021 McAfee, D., Reinhold, S. L., Alleway, H. K., & Connell, S. D. (2021). Environmental solutions fast-tracked: Reversing public scepticism to public engagement. Biological Conservation, 253, 1-8.
DOI Scopus2 WoS2
2021 Williams, B. R., Mcafee, D., & Connell, S. D. (2021). Repairing recruitment processes with sound technology to accelerate habitat restoration. Ecological Applications, 31(6), e02386-1-e02386-7.
DOI Scopus2 WoS2
2021 McAfee, D., Costanza, R., & Connell, S. D. (2021). Valuing marine restoration beyond the 'too small and too expensive'. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 36(11), 968-971.
DOI Scopus3 WoS3 Europe PMC1
2020 Leung, J., & McAfee, D. (2020). Stress across life stages: Impacts, responses and consequences for marine organisms. Science of the Total Environment, 700, 9 pages.
DOI Scopus5 WoS5
2020 McAfee, D., McLeod, I., Boström-Einarsson, L., & Gillies, C. (2020). The value and opportunity of restoring Australia's lost rock oyster reefs. Restoration Ecology, 28(2), 304-314.
DOI Scopus6 WoS6
2020 Gillies, C., Castine, S., Alleway, H., Crawford, C., Fitzsimons, J., Hancock, B., . . . zu Ermgassen, P. (2020). Conservation status of the Oyster Reef Ecosystem of Southern and Eastern Australia. Global Ecology and Conservation, 22, 16 pages.
DOI Scopus6 WoS7
2020 McAfee, D., & Connell, S. D. (2020). Cuing oyster recruitment with shell and rock: implications for timing reef restoration. Restoration Ecology, 28(3), 6 pages.
DOI Scopus4 WoS4
2019 Mcafee, D., Alleway, H. K., & Connell, S. D. (2019). Environmental solutions sparked by environmental history.. Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 34(2), 386-394.
DOI Scopus13 WoS13
2019 McAfee, D., & Bishop, M. J. (2019). The mechanisms by which oysters facilitate invertebrates vary across environmental gradients. Oecologia, 189(4), 1095-1106.
DOI Scopus14 WoS14 Europe PMC1
2019 McAfee, D., Doubleday, Z. A., Geiger, N., & Connell, S. D. (2019). Everyone loves a success story: Optimism inspires conservation engagement. BioScience, 69(4), 274-281.
DOI Scopus44 WoS40
2019 McAfee, D., & Connell, S. D. (2019). Balancing the Benefits of Optimism and Pessimism in Conservation: a Response to Kidd, Bekessy, and Garrard. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 34(8), 692-693.
DOI Scopus6 WoS7
2018 McAfee, D., Cumbo, V., Bishop, M., & Raftos, D. (2018). Intraspecific differences in the transcriptional stress response of two populations of Sydney rock oyster increase with rising temperatures. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 589, 115-127.
DOI Scopus6 WoS6
2018 McAfee, D., Bishop, M., Yu, T., & Williams, G. (2018). Structural traits dictate abiotic stress amelioration by intertidal oysters. Functional Ecology, 32(12), 2666-2677.
DOI Scopus21 WoS21
2017 McAfee, D., O'Connor, W., & Bishop, M. (2017). Fast growing oysters show reduced capacity to provide a thermal refuge to intertidal biodiversity at high temperatures. The Journal of animal ecology, 86(6), 1352-1362.
DOI Scopus26 WoS26 Europe PMC6
2016 Mcafee, D., Cole, V. J., & Bishop, M. J. (2016). Latitudinal gradients in ecosystem engineering by oysters vary across habitats. Ecology, 97(4), 929-939.
DOI Scopus47 WoS49 Europe PMC10
2016 Mcafee, D., Cole, V. J., & Bishop, M. J. (2016). Latitudinal gradients in ecosystem engineering by oysters vary across habitats. Ecology, 97(4), 929.
Year Citation 2018 Freeling, B. S., Mcafee, D., & Connell, S. (2018). Compensation then collapse: How Ostrea angasi responds to a warming and acidifying ocean. Poster session presented at the meeting of Australian Shellfish Reef Restoration Network & 19th International Conference on Shellfish Restoration. Adelaide.
- ARC Linkage - Addressing social and ecological constraints to expand marine restoration, co-chief investigator, 2021, $445,822
- Department for Environment & Water research grant - Research on Shellfish Reef Restoration in South Australia, 2020, $80,000
- Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship Award, 2016, $24,500
- Young Tall Poppy Award for South Australia, 2021
- University Award for Outstanding Achievement for Excellence in Research by an Early Career Researcher, 2021
- Eureka Prize Award for Applied Environmental Research, 2020
- Order of Merit for Early Career Research Excellence, Faculty of Sciences UoA, 2020
- Tony Roach prize (best marine science paper), Sydney Institute of Marine Science, 2019
- South Australian Science Awards finalist for Best Research Collaboration, 2018
Course coordinator for Principles & Practice of Research III (SCIENCE 3100) in the BSc Advanced degree, University of Adelaide, 2021.
- Frontiers in Marine Science, University of Adelaide, 2018 - 2021
- Estuarine health; Oyster aquaculture, University of Hong Kong, 2016
- Marine Ecology, Macquarie University, 2015 - 2016
- Marine environmental issues, Macquarie University, 2015-2017
- Marine Ecology, Macquarie University, 2014-2015
- Invertebrate zoology, Macquarie University, 2014
- Experimental design and data analysis, Macquarie University, 2014
- Ecology, Macquarie University, 2013-2014
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2022 Co-Supervisor Multispecies restoration on the South Australian native oyster reefs Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Ms Ishtar Raven Kenny 2021 Co-Supervisor Oyster Reef Restoration Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Lachlan McLeod 2020 Co-Supervisor Enhancing Oyster Reef Restoration with Soundscape Ecology Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Brittany Ruth Williams
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