Statistical Solutions to Environmental Problems

News & Updates

Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission slams CSIRO
January 30, 2019 
Commissioner of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, Bret Walker SC, has released his report into the Murray Darling Basin Authority. CSIRO's lack of interaction with the Royal Commission has drawn heavy criticism.

Revised Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality Released!
After 5.5 years, the "Revised method for deriving Australian and New Zealand water quality guideline values for toxicants" has finally been released.

Adelaide Coastal Waters Study - South Australia's illegitimate child.
December 15, 2016 
It's almost a decade since the completion of the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study. Project Director, Prof. David Fox shares some insights into how the study and the final report were managed.

Vale Brian White
21 October, 2016 
One of the country's best mathematics educators recently passed away.

Time to shut down tabloid journals and Academic Doping
19 August, 2016 
The academic and research communities are being swamped under a tsunami of junk journal invitations promising rapid publication in their "prestigious" publications.

Ten Simple Rules
June 21, 2016 

Statistics may be everywhere, but they aren't always understood, calculated, or communicated effectively. After a suggestion from the ASA, a group of leading statisticians penned "Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice"  to help researchers avoid pitfalls of misrepresenting data or formulating hypotheses based on faulty statistical reasoning.

Joe Gani on CSIRO
June 10, 2016 
Professor Joe Gani was a distinguished mathematical statistician and was Chief of CSIRO's Division of Mathematics and Statistics between 1974 and 1981. In a 2008 interview he reflected upon his CSIRO years. What's extraordinary is how very little has changed with respect to CSIRO's penchant for change!

As we've long been advocating - it's time this endless, unproductive cycle of deconstruction and reconstruction ceased (or at least had a longer return period).

If you think all the current rhetoric about CSIRO needing to become more relevant, more commercially focused and 'customer' driven is new, reflect for a moment on Professor Gani's experience more than 40 years ago.

Climate Science on the Skids
May 30 2016 
CSIRO CEO, Dr. Larry Marshall makes another extraordinary claim.

New paper published
May 25, 2016 
Professors David Fox (Environmetrics Australia / University of Melbourne) and Wayne Landis (Western Washington University) respond to renewed calls to retain the NOEC in ecotoxicology.

Larry Marshall - Same dog, different leg action
April 11, 2016 
Although CSIRO has a new CEO in Larry Marshall, the 'innovation' rhetoric and restructuring is not. You'd think that with the passage of 10 years, the organisation (indeed any organisation) would be reaping the benifits of structural change. Regrettably, CSIRO never got off the slash and burn treadmill.

CSIRO suffers the bends after Deep Dive
April 08, 2016 
CSIRO in the spot-light again - for all the wrong reasons (again)

Hey Larry - it's not either / or
February 12, 2016 
CSIRO's boss, Larry Marshall takes the axe to climate research

Statisticians and (eco)Toxicologists Unite!
January 5, 2016 
As debates about the legitimacy of NOECs and NOELs continue unabated, we believe it's well and truly time to establish a sub-discipline of Statistical (eco)toxicology.

Revised ANZECC Guidelines officially released!
22 December, 2015 
It's been a long process, but the Revised ANZECC Water Quality Guidelines for Toxicants has been officially released.


SETAC Australasia - Nelson NZ
27 August, 2015 
"Toxicant guideline values for the protection of aquatic ecosystems -  an improved derivation method and overview of priority toxicants."

Rick van Dam, Graeme Batley, Michael Warne Jenny Stauber, David Fox, Chris Hickey,  John Chapman

Is data scientist sexiest job of the century?
19 April, 2015 
A few years ago, The Harvard Business Review hailed the burgeoning role

of data scientist  "The sexiest job of the 21st century" . With big
data technology driving the change, how does the new role stack up?

Social 'Science' - Science No More!
18 March, 2015 
This is not a bad dream - the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology has banned the use of statistical inference!

CSIRO and the Gutting of Wisdom
21 December, 2014 
Read Bridie Smith's story about the impact of funding cuts to the CSIRO.

Hello 2015. Goodby Linkedin
January 2, 2015 
Have you stopped to think about the actual value YOU derive from having a Linkedin account?

Statistical Janitorial Services
December 31, 2014 
We've written about BIG data before and while some reckon it's sexy, you better roll up your sleeves because you'll invariably need to do a lot of 'janitorial' (a.k.a. shit) work first!

The problems of very small n
December 4, 2014 
Professors Murray Aitkin and David Fox are invited speakers at the Australian Applied Statistics Conference (AASC) 2014.

BIG data is watching you
November 6, 2014 
Ron Sandland recently wrote about the new phenomenon of 'big data' - weighing up the benefits and concerns. Terry Speed reflected on the same issue in a talk earlier this year in Gothenburg, Sweeden noting that this is nothing new to statisticians. So what's all the fuss about?
Here's another take on the 'big data' bandwagon.

New Method for Water Quality Guideline Calculations
Sep 15, 2014 
The ANZECC (2000) Guidelines are currently being reviewed.

The Explosive Growth of R
Sept 3, 2014 
Have no doubts - R reigns supreme!!

R - the Wikepedia of statistical software?
August 20, 2014 
The R computing environment is feature-rich, incredibly powerful, and best of all - free! But to what extent can we trust user-contributed packages?

Let there be light!
May 22, 2014 
New Industry Standard for managing seagrasses during dredging projects.

Statistical Accreditation
May 20, 2014 
Make sure you're dealing with someone who knows their stuff!

Job losses at CSIRO bigger than expected
May 15, 2014 
Confirmed in a message yesterday from CSIRO Chief Executive, Megan Clark:

Australian Science takes a hit
May 15, 2014 
Joe Hockey's budget has not been kind to science

Information-gap decision theory creates a gap in ecological applications and then fills it
May 14, 2014 
You may not of heard of Info Gap Decision Theory (IGDT) but don't worry, not many people have.

Probability Weighted Indicies for Improved Ecosystem Report Card Scoring
May 09, 2014 
A new way for calculating an environmental index is described in an upcoming paper "Probability Weighted Indices for improved ecosystem report card scoring" has been published in Environmetrics. Click here.

New Report on Ecosystem Report Cards
April 4, 2014 
'Report Cards' and their associated scoring techniques are widely used to convey a measure of overall ecosystem health to a wide audience. However, as with most things, developing, testing and validating these metrics is not straightforward.

Revision of Australian Water Quality Guidelines
March 27, 2014 
The long-awaited review of the ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) Water Quality Guidelines is now well under way!

Turbidity Monitoring clouded by dubious science
February 17, 2014 
Regulators and industry around the country are using a potentially flawed method to set environmental limits on water column turbidity.

Breaking down the team barrier
21 January, 2014 
New research suggests that team effectiveness may actually benefit from tension and hostility.

Mathematics of Planet Earth
May 30, 2013 
Local and international experts come together to discuss how mathematical and related scientific disciplines can be utilised to better understand the world around us.

Canadian Environmental Science and Regulation under threat
12 April 2013 
The Canadian Federal Government is making drastic reductions in the reach and capabilities of its environmental science departments.  Read Peter Wells's Marine Pollution Bulletin article.

High Impact
15 March 2013 
The peer-reviewed journal "Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management" (IEAM) lists Fox (2012) as one of its most accessed articles in 2012.

New Predictive Capability for Dredging projects
29 November 2012 
Environmetrics Australia has developed a unique water column turbidity and benthic light forecasting system.




  • van Dam, R., Batley, G., Fiher, R., Fox, DR., Harford, A., Humphrey, C., Proctor, A., Stauber, J., Warne, M. (2018). Bringing water quality benchmark derivation approaches into the 21st. century. Paper presented at SETAC Europe, Rome 13-17 May 2018. ( pdf file - 356K).
  • Landis, W.G. and Fox, D.R. (2018)  Biomarkers, Omics, and the Curve,   Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 14: 419-420 ( pdf file - 356K)
  • Warne MStJ, Batley GE, van Dam RA, Chapman JC, Fox DR, Hickey CW and Stauber JL. (2015). Revised Method for Deriving Australian and New Zealand Water Quality Guideline Values for Toxicants. Revised 12 October 2016. Prepared to support the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality. Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, Brisbane, Queensland. 43 pp. ( pdf file - 679K)
  • Fox, D.R. and Landis, W.G. (2016) Don't be fooled - A NOEC is no substitute for a poor Concentration - Response experiment,  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 35(9), 2141-2148.   (pdf available here)

  • Fox, D.R. and Landis, W.G. (2016) Comment on ET&C Perspectives, November 2015 - A Holistic View, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 35(6), 1337-1339.  ( pdf file - 63K)

  • Fox, D.R. (2016) SSD Modeling - it's all about F! , Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 12:197-198. ( pdf file - 135K)

  • Fox, D.R. (2015) Selection Bias Correction for Species Sensitivity Distribution Modelling and Hazardous Concentration Estimation, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 34(11), 2555-2563. SUPPLEMENTAL DATA: 1) Excel spreadsheet for bcf calculations; 2) Proof of equations 8 and 9.

  • Fox, D.R. (2015) More Noise does not mean more precision: A review of Aldenberg and Rorije (2013), ATLA 43, 241-249. ( pdf file - 103K)
  • Batley GE, Braga O, Van Dam R, Warne MStJ., Chapman JC, Fox DR, Hickey C, Stauber JL (2014) Technical Rationale for Changes to the Method for Deriving Australian and New Zealand Water Quality Guideline Values for Toxicants. Council of Australian Government's Standing Council on Environment and Water (SCEW). ( pdf file - 905K) NB: This is an unapproved draft and is not to be used to develop water quality guidelines.
  • Warne MStJ, Batley GE, Braga O, Chapman JC, Fox DR, Hickey C, Stauber JL, and Van Dam R. (2014) Regulatory use of SSDs in Australia and New Zealand. Estimating toxicity thresholds for aquatic ecological communities from sensitivity distributions. 11-13 February 2014 , Amsterdam. Workshop Report No. 28. European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals. pp 21. ( pdf file - 905K)
  • Warne MStJ, Batley GE, Braga O, Chapman JC, Fox DR, Hickey C, Stauber JL, and Van Dam R. (2014) Revisions to the derivation of the Australian and New Zealand guidelines for toxicants in fresh and marine waters. Environ Sci Pollut Res. 21, 51-60. ( pdf file - 193K)
  • Fox, D.R. and Billoir, E. (2013) "Time Dependent Species Sensitivity Distributions", Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 32(2), 378-383. (pdf file - 318K).
  • Fox, D.R., Billoir, E., Charles, S., Delignette-Muller, M.L. and Lopez, C. (2012) , "What to do with NOECS/NOELS - Prohibition or Innovation?", Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 8, 764-766. (pdf file - 104K).
  • Fox, D.R. (2011), "Response to Landis and Chapman (2011)", Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 8(1), 4. (pdf file - 52K).
  • Fox, D.R. and Billoir, E. (2011) "Individual versus Population Effects in Concentration-Response Modelling", Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 7, 501-502. (pdf file - 71K).
  • Billoir, E. and Fox, D.R. (2011) "Time-dependent SSDs", Paper presented at SETAC Milan, May 19, 2011. and Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology, Darwin, 19 April, 2011 (pdf file - 815K).
  • Fox, D.R. (2011) "Statistics and Ecotoxicology: Past, Present and Future", Keynote address, Australasian Society for Ecotoxicology, Darwin, 18 April, 2011. (pdf file - 1.6Mb). [Click here for book of abstracts]
  • Fox, D.R. (2010) "B-Tox: A Bayesian Facelift for Ecotoxicology", in Proceedings JSM 2010, Vancouver, The American Statistical Association. (pdf file - 817K).
  • Fox, D.R. (2010) "Statistics and Ecotoxicology: Shotgun Marriage or Enduring Partnership?", Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 6(3), 501-502. (pdf file - 114K).
  • Fox, D.R. (2010) "A Bayesian approach for determining the no effect concentration and hazardous concentration in ecotoxicology", Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 73(2), 123-131 . (pdf file - 545K).
  • Fox, D.R. (2008) "NECs, NOECs, and the ECx", Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology, 14, 7-9. (pdf file - 124K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1999) "Setting Water Quality Guidelines - A Statistician's Perspective". SETAC News, May 1999, 17-18. (pdf file - 250K)

  • Fox, D.R. and Argent, R.M. (2009) "Catchment-wide estimation of sediment-nutrient loads", In Anderssen, R.S., R.D. Braddock and L.T.H. Newham (eds) 18th World IMACS Congress and MODSIM09 International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand and International Association for Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, July 2009, pp. 4213-4219. ISBN: 978-0-9758400-7-8. . (pdf file - 318K)
  • Fox, D.R. (2008) "To IG or not to IG - that is the question". Decision Point, 23, 10-11. ( pdf file - 293K)
  • Fox, D.R., Ben-Haim, Y., Hayes, K.R., McCarthy, M.A., Wintle, B., and Dunstan, P. (2007) "An Info-Gap Approach to Power and Sample-size Calculations". Environmetrics, 18, 189-203. (pdf file - 482K)
Operations Research
  • George, J.A., Fox, D.R., and Canvin, R.W. (1983) A Hospital Throughput Model in the Context of Long Waiting Lists. Journal of the Operational Research Society, 34(1), 27-35. (pdf file - 675K)

Statistical Calibration Theory
  • Fox, D.R., (1988) "Calibration in a non-stationary field. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Statistics, University of Wyoming. (pdf file - 611K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1989) Conditional Calibration. Commun. Statist.-Theory Meth., 18(6), 2311-2330. (pfd file - 339K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1992) Orthogonal Calibration. Unpublished Manuscript, Department of Mathematics, University of Colorado (Denver). (pdf file - 533K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1987) Components of Variance Estimation in a Calibration Problem where both Variables are subject to Error. Technical report 3/87, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Curtin University of Technology. Perth, Western Australia. (pdf file - 961K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1987) Statistical Calibration when both Variables are subject to Error. Technical report 5/87, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Curtin University of Technology. Perth, Western Australia. (pdf file - 1619K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1989) Statistical Calibration: Theory and Applications. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Department of Statistics, University of Wyoming. (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6)

Marine Ecotoxicology: Current Knowledge and Future Issues

Chapter 2 : Contemporary Methods for Statistical Design and Analysis by David R. Fox

http://environmetrics.net.au/web_images/Marine%20ecotox.jpg Julian Blasco , Olivia Campana, Miriam Hampel, Peter M. Chapman

Academic Press, 1 Sep. 2016 -  342 pages

Marine Ecotoxicology: Current Knowledge and Future Issues is the first unified resource to cover issues related to contamination, responses, and testing techniques of saltwater from a toxicological perspective. With its unprecedented focus on marine environments and logical chapter progression, this book is useful to graduate students, ecotoxicologists, risk assessors, and regulators involved or interested in marine waters.

As human interaction with these environments increases, understanding of the pollutants and toxins introduced into the oceans becomes ever more critical, and this book builds a foundation of knowledge to assist scientists in studying, monitoring, and making decisions that affect both marine environments and human health.

A team of world renowned experts provide detailed analyses of the most common contaminants in marine environments and explain the design and purpose of toxicity testing methods, while exploring the future of ecotoxicology studies in relation to the world’s oceans. As the threat of increasing pollution in marine environments becomes an ever more tangible reality, Marine Ecotoxicology offers insights and guidance to mitigate that threat.


Encyclopedia of Quantitative Risk Assessment and Analysis






Encyclopedia of Environmetrics, Second Edition


D. Fox (2012). Risk assessment, ecological in Encyclopedia of Environmetrics Second Edition, A.-H. El-Shaarawi and W. Piegorsch (eds). Wiley, UK, pp.2248-2257. (pdf file - 88K)




Gippsland Lakes
  • Harris, G., Batley, G., Webster, I., Molloy, R. and Fox, D. (1998) Gippsland Lakes Environmental Audit: Review of Water Quality and Status of the aquatic ecosystems of the Gippsland Lakes (Published by CSIRO Environmental Projects Office, October 1998) (pdf file - 240K)
  • Fox, D.R. (2007) Water Quality Monitoring in the Gippsland Catchments - Efficient Sampling Strategies and Load Estimation techniques. Occasional Report, The Australian Centre for Environmetrics, University of Melbourne. (pdf file - 1746K)

Eastern Treatment Plant Effluent Management Study (Boags Rocks Outfall)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment and Review of Effluent Disposal Options for Eastern Treatment Plant - Final Report (Published by CSIRO Environmental Projects Office, June 1999) (pdf file - 1.6 Mb)
    • see also the "Totally Wild" video clip (go back to Podcasts and see the Podcast we've called "Taking the Piss" or click here).
Risk Analysis
  • Fox, D. R. (2010) Statistics and Biosecurity. Issues, 90, 29-33. (pdf file - 137K)
  • Statistical Methods for Biosecurity and Monitoring and Surveillance: Part I - Control Charts (pdf file - 1.01 Mb)
  • Statistical Methods for Biosecurity and Monitoring and Surveillance: Final Report Part I (pages 1-78) (pdf file - 4 Mb)
    • Chapter 1: "Basic Control Charting"
    • Chapter 2: "Bayesian Control Charting"
    • Chapter 3: "Space-Time Disease Spread"
  • Statistical Methods for Biosecurity and Monitoring and Surveillance: Final Report Part II (pages 79-150) (pdf file - 3 Mb)
  • Fox, D.R. (2006) Statistical Issues in Ecological Risk Assessment. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 12, 120-129. (pdf file - 176K)
  • Fox, D.R. (2005) Statistics, Environmental Health and Risk Assessment, Session IPM007, International Statistical Institute conference, Sydney, April 2005. (pdf file - 28K)
  • Fox, D.R. and Thompson, C. (2007) Risk and Uncertainty in Bio-surveillance having Imperfect Detection Rates, BULLETIN of THE INTERNATIONAL STATISTICAL INSTITUTE - LXII (2007). (pdf file - 222K)
  • Fox, D.R. ( unpublished) Opinion: Environmental Statistics - It doesn't add up! (pdf file - 169K)
  • Fox, D.R. (2002) "Global Risk and Sustainability". In CSIRO Sustainability Network Update #21, 11 December 2002. (pdf file - 940K)
  • Fox, D.R. (2001) "Understanding the new ANZECC Water Quality Guidelines", CSIRO Land and Water, Perth WA. (pdf file - 328K)
Adelaide Coastal Waters Study
  • Study close-out: Prof. David Fox's celebration speech (pdf file 285K)
  • Volume 1 of Final Report (pdf file - 3.45Mb)
  • Minister's Media Release (pdf file - 81.5K)
  • CSIRO's Media Release (pdf file - 222K)
  • AAP Newswire (pdf file - 29K)
  • SA EPA Summary Brochure (pdf file - 962K)
  • ABC News (pdf file- 235K)
Nutrient Load Estimation
  • Catchment-wide estimation of nutrient loads (pdf file - 3.17 Mb)
  • Protocols for the optimal measurement of nutrient loads (pdf file - 4.05Mb)
  • A Statistical Method for Assessing Compliance with Nutrient Reduction Targets (pdf file - 285K)
  • Protocols for the optimal measurement and estimation of nutrient loads - Error Approximations (pdf file - 167K)
  • GUMLEAF Reference Manual (pdf file- 1.67MB)
  • A Coupled Transfer Model and Composite Sampling Strategy for Efficient Mass Load Estimation ( in prep/under review). (pdf file - 1748K)
  • Quantifying the Uncertainty of Nutrient Load Estimates in the Shepparton Irrigation Region. (pdf file - 354K)

Port of Melbourne Channel Deepening Project (PoMC CDP)
( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Phillip_Channel_Deepening_Project for background information)


  • Statistical Aspects of Turbidity Monitoring - Setting Environmental Limits (pdf file - 645K)
  • Statistical Aspects of Turbidity Monitoring - Control Charting (pdf file - 1.15MB)
  • Supplementary Statement to Panel Inquiry (pdf file - 168K)
  • Independent Expert Group Advice on POMC's Environmental Management Plan, 6 September 2007 (pdf file - 83K)
  • Minister's Assessment (pdf file - 989K)
  • Final EMP (pdf file - 11.6MB)
  • Turbidity Detailed Design Document (pdf file - 936K)

Power System Simulation



  • Fox, D.R. (1978) "Mathematical Models of the Power Production System of Victoria". Unpublished Masters Thesis. Monash University, Clayton, Australia. ( pdf file - 4795K)




  • Menzies, D., Patison, KP, Fox, DR, Swain, DL. ( 2016) A scoping study to assess the precision of an automated radiolocation animal tracking system. Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 124:175-183.  (pdf file - 328K)

  • Johnson, S., Logan, M., Fox, D., Pinto, U. (2016 ) Environmental Decision-Making using Bayesian Networks: Creating an environmental report card. Invited paper for Applied Stochastic Models in Business and Industry.  (pdf file - 1,221K)


  • Fox, D.R. (2014), "Probability Weighted Indices for improved ecosystem report card scoring", Environmetrics, 25(5), 351-360.
  • Fox, D.R. (2013) Statistical Issues Associated with the Development of an Ecosystem Report Card. Client report to Gladstone Healthy Harbour Partnership, 13 December 2013. ( pdf file - 2.15Mb)
  • Warne, M.J., Batley, G.E., Braga, O., Chapman, J.C., Fox, D.R., Hickey, C.W., Stauber, J.L., Van Dam, R. (2014) "Revisions to the derivation of the Australian and New Zealand guidelines for toxicants in fresh and marine waters", Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 21(1), 51-60. (pdf file - 318K).
  • Fox, D.R. (2010) Desired and Feared - Quo vadis or Quid agis ?, The American Statistician , 64(1 ), 6-9. (pdf file - 70K)
  • Fox, D.R. (2001) Environmental Power Analysis - A New Perspective , Environmetrics , 12 , 437-449. (pdf file - 124K)
  • Campbell, E., Fox, D.R., and Bates, B.(1999) A Bayesian approach to parameter estimation and pooling in nonlinear flood event models. Water Resources Research , 35(1 ), 211-220. ( )
  • Fox, D.R. (1992) A Simple Protocol for Radiation Dosimetry based on the Order Statistics from a Poisson Process , Environmetrics , 3(3) , 301-318. (pdf file - 820K) [Also discussed in "Environmental Biometrics: Summary of Papers Presented at the International Conference on Environmental Biometrics, Sydney, Australia, 14-15 December 1992" by Evans & Piegorsch pdf file - 812K]
  • Fox, D.R., Ridsdill-Smith, J (1995) Tests for density dependence revisited. ,Oecologia , 103(4) , 435-443. ( pdf file )
  • Fox, D.R.  (1989)  Computer selection of size-biased samples. The American Statistician, 43(3), 168-171. ( pdf file - 112K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1986) MINITAB as a teaching aid for generalized linear models. Pacific Statistical Congress, I.S. Francis, B.F.J. Manly, F.C. Lam (Eds). Elsevier Science Publishers (North Holland). 317-320. ( pdf file - 398K)
  • Fox, D.R. (1982) A Mathematical Model for Audio Cassette Playing Time. Vinculum (a publication of the Mathematical Association of Victoria, Australia), 19(3), 16-18 (pdf file - 566K)