Oral Presentation Australian Society for Limnology Congress 2013

Measuring the success of flow restoration across multiple scales: thinking outside the bucket (#62)

Fran Sheldon , Sally Hladyz , Stephen Balcombe , Erin Peterson , Jenny Davis
Natural flow regimes are important for maintaining the ecological integrity of flowing water systems. Likewise, altered flow regimes, often accompanied by other environmental stressors, are a significant factor in the ecological degradation and loss of biodiversity in freshwater systems globally.  With many rivers and basins globally targeted for some degree of flow restoration there is a need for measuring the success, or otherwise, of environmental flow releases to inform long-term flow management.  What is missing from much of the environmental flows literature, however, is a detailed discussion of potential indicators that may be suitable for assessing the ecosystem responses to environmental flows across a range of spatial and temporal scales.  In this paper we present a conceptual model of the ecosystem response to environmental watering and discuss a suite of ecosystem-response indicators likely to be sensitive to flow-regime restoration. This includes short-term changes in ecological responses resulting from environmental flows delivered as individual pulse releases or ad hoc flow releases, as well as, longer-term responses to more widespread systematic restoration of the flow regime at the catchment scale, particularly in large floodplain river systems.