Our People

Chris Gillies

Director, Oceans Program, Australia

Melbourne, Australia

Headshot of Chris Gillies holding a scuba mask


Invertebrate ecology, Marine food webs, Coastal climate change




Chris Gillies has worked across the science and conservation sectors in both aquatic and terrestrial environments but his true passion is the ocean. He was formerly the Director of Science at Earthwatch Australia, where he managed the scientific program across their expedition and citizen science portfolio. He has served as an invertebrate ecologist for both state and federal government environmental agencies and several consultancies. Chris’s doctoral research focused on Antarctic shallow-water marine food webs and his later research includes coastal climate change, impacts of marine debris and shellfish reef ecology. He is a three-time summer Australian Antarctic expeditioner.

As the Marine Manager for Australia, Chris leads our Great Southern Seascapes program helping to protect and restore healthy marine ecosystems from Western Australia to New South Wales.

Chris has a PhD in marine ecology from Southern Cross University. He commenced working at TNC in 2014 and works from our Melbourne office.

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The Hidden History of Australian Oyster Reefs

Chris used historical records to map the former extent of Australian shellfish reefs.  These new data will feed some of Australia’s first efforts to restore shellfish reefs across the nation.

Aquaculture Could Be Conservation’s Secret Weapon

Chris's research shows that aquaculture could be a valuable tool for conservation, restoring lost ecosystem services while providing food for people.


Leo, K., Gillies, CL., Fitzsimons, J., Hales, L., Beck, M. (in review). Coastal habitat squeeze: A review of adaptation solutions for saltmarsh, mangrove and beach habitats. Ocean and Coastal Management.

McLeod, IM., zu Ermgassen, PS., Gillies, CL., Hancock, B. and Humphries, A., 2019. Can Bivalve Habitat Restoration Improve Degraded Estuaries?. In Coasts and Estuaries (pp. 427-442). Elsevier.

Gentry, RR., Alleway, HK., Bishop, MJ., Gillies CL., Waters, T. and Jones, R., 2019. Exploring the potential for marine aquaculture to contribute to ecosystem services. Reviews in Aquaculture.

Alleway HK, Gillies CL, Bishop MJ, Gentry RR, Theuerkauf SJ, and Jones R; The Ecosystem Services of Marine Aquaculture: Valuing Benefits to People and Nature, BioScience, Volume 69, Issue 1, 1 January 2019, Pages 59–68, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy137

McLeod IM,  Purandare J, Gillies CL,  Smith A and Burrows D. Symposium report: Inaugural Australian Coastal Restoration Symposium. Ecological Management and Restoration https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12289


McLeod I,  Schmider J, Creighton C and Gillies CL (2018) Seven pearls of wisdom: Advice from Traditional Owners to improve engagement of local Indigenous people in shellfish ecosystem restoration. Ecological Management and Restoration https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12318

Gillies CL, McLeod IM, Alleway HK et al. (2018) Continental-scale loss and future recovery of shellfish reef ecosystems in Australia. PloS One https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0190914


Gillies CL, Crawford M and Hancock B. (2017) Restoring Angasi oyster reefs – what is the endpoint ecosystem we are aiming for and how do we get there? Ecological Management and Restoration  https://doi.org/10.1111/emr.12278

Chandler M, See L, Buesching CD, Cousins, JA, Gillies CL, Kays RW, Newman C, Pereira HM, and Tiago P. (2017) Involving Citizen Scientists in Biodiversity Observation. In The GEO Handbook on Biodiversity Observation Networks (pp. 211-237). Springer International Publishing.


Wegscheidl CJ, Sheaves M, McLeod IM, Hedge PT, Gillies CL, and Creighton C.(2016) Sustainable management of Australia’s coastal seascapes: a case for collecting and communicating quantitative evidence to inform decision-making. Wetlands Ecology and Management, pp.1-20.


CL Gillies, JA Fitzsimons, S Branigan et al. (2015) Scaling-up marine restoration efforts in Australia Ecological Management and Restoration 16:84-85

CL Gillies, Creighton C and McLeod IM (eds) (2015) Shellfish reef habitats: a synopsis to underpin the repair and conservation of Australia’s environment, social and economically important bays and estuaries. Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) Publication, James Cook University, Townsville, 90pp

Creighton C, Gillies CL and McLeod IM (eds) (2015) Australia’s saltmarshes: a synopsis to underpin the repair and conservation of Australia’s environmental, social and economically important bays and estuaries. Centre for Tropical Water & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) Publication, James Cook University, Townsville, 63pp.

Pecl G, Gillies CL, Sbrocchi C and Roetman PE. (2015) Building Australia through citizen science. Office of the Chief Scientist, Occasional Paper Series issue 11: 4pp


Smith SDA, Gillies CL and Shortland-Jones H. (2014) Patterns of marine debris distribution on the beaches of Rottnest Island, Western Australia, Marine Pollution Bulletin 88 (1), 188-193


Gillies CL, Stark JS, Johnstone GJ and Smith SDA. (2013) Establishing a food web model for coastal Antarctic benthic communities: a case study from the Vestfold Hills, Marine Ecology Progress Series 478, 27-41


CL Gillies, JS Stark, GJ Johnstone, SDA Smith. (2012) Carbon flow and trophic structure of an Antarctic coastal benthic community as determined by δ 13 C and δ 15 N, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 97, 44-57

Gillies CL, Stark JS and Smith SDA. (2012) small-scale spatial variation of δ13C and δ15N isotopes in Antarctic carbon sources and consumers Polar Biology 35 (6), 813-827


Raymond B, Marshall M, Nevitt G, Gillies CL, Van Den Hoff J, Stark JS et al. (2011) A Southern Ocean dietary database: Ecological Archives E092-097 Ecology 92 (5), 1188-1188


Gillies CL, Hose GH and Turak E (2009) What do qualitative rapid assessment collections of macroinvertebrates represent? A comparison with extensive quantitative sampling, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 149 (1-4), 99-112