Murrumbidgee river and floodplains; supporting ecosystems and biodiversity

The Murrumbidgee Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) Program is the primary means by which the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) is monitoring and evaluating the ecological outcomes of Commonwealth environmental watering actions.

The challenge

The Murrumbidgee is a lowland river system with large meandering channels, wetlands, lakes, swamps and creek lines. The Murrumbidgee has significant cultural and ecological values. Indigenous Australians have been caring for the Murrumbidgee for all time. It is also a working river, supporting broad areas of irrigated agriculture that underpin rural economies.

The Murrumbidgee region has important habitat and biodiversity including intact stands of River red gum forest and aquatic grassy meadow communities. Some of its wetlands are of national significance, supporting a rich diversity of waterbirds, supporting key waterbird rookeries, native fish, frogs, mammals and reptiles .It is also home to populations of threatened species including the Southern bell frog, Australasian bittern, the grey snake and fisher bat.

Project name
CEWH Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Services - Murrumbidgee Selected Area (2019 - 2023)

Funding Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water - Cwlth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH)$3.327M

Our response

Monitoring and evaluating the use of water for the environment is helping to build knowledge about the best way to improve the health of the rivers and wetlands in the Murrumbidgee, based on what works and what doesn’t work.

We are focused on understanding how native fish, waterbirds, reptiles and amphibians, as well as wetland vegetation communities, benefit from these targeted environmental watering actions.

The core focus being the precise delivery of water to the high value wetlands and riverine assets that make up critical habitat to maintain regional biodiversity. Our work here provides knowledge to underpin water management and delivery decisions so that the environmental outcomes are maximised.

We are studying riverine and wetland habitats, and collecting a broad range of data on:

  • native and exotic fish communities and their spawning events
  • waterbird rookeries and migratory waterbird numbers and their breeding events
  • floodplain frog diversity and call phenology (relates to frog life cycle events)
  • vegetation communities

The goal

Our work focuses on the relationships between biodiversity responses and environmental watering actions. This knowledge is being used to inform the adaptive management of environmental water delivery.

Current focus

  • Developing optimisation models for improved water management
  • Understanding native fish dispersal, recruitment, and habitat refuge
  • Gathering baseline data on wetland and riverine species diversity in the Yanco Creek system

What we have learnt:

  • Inundation regime
  • Lateral connectivity
  • Timing of watering actions
  • Mode of delivery

Subscribe to the Bidgee Bulletin

Our team

Principal scientist

portrait of Professor Skye Wassens
Professor Skye Wassens
View full profile

Our research team

portrait of Professor Andrew Hall
Professor Andrew Hall
Research Fellow in Remote Sensing
View full profile
portrait of Dr Anna Turner
Dr Anna Turner
Freshwater Ecologist
View full profile
portrait of Dr Sarah Talbot
Dr Sarah Talbot
Research Officer
portrait of Dr Gilad Bino
Dr Gilad Bino
Research Fellow at the University of NSW
portrait of Dr Jennifer Spencer
Dr Jennifer Spencer
Senior Scientist with the Water and Wetlands Science Division of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
portrait of Dr Kate Brandis
Dr Kate Brandis
Research Fellow and freshwater ecologist at the University of NSW
portrait of Dr Yoshi Kyobashi
Dr Yoshi Kyobashi
Senior Research Scientist and freshwater ecologist with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
Dr Rachael Thomas
Freshwater ecologist with the Water and Wetlands Science Division of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
portrait of Dr Jason Theim
Dr Jason Theim
Research Scientist and fish ecologist with the Division of Freshwater Ecosystems at the Department of Primary Industries

Subscribe to the Bidgee Bulletin

The Bidgee Bulletin is a quarterly newsletter that provides updates on our progress as we monitor the ecological outcomes of Commonwealth environmental water flows in the Murrumbidgee Selected Area.

Subscribe now

Key research publications

Quarterly progress reports

Reports from previous projects

Community Reports

Our partners

Connect and collaborate

We are looking for researchers, students, funding and partners to help take our research to the next level.