The MER program has been designed to provide a robust framework to evaluate the ecological outcomes of Commonwealth environmental water at a range of spatial and temporal scales. The program focuses on both broad and fine scale patterns and process, targeting multiple taxonomic groups and trophic levels over the range of ecosystems found within the Murrumbidgee Selected Area. This approach supports the evaluation of both short and long-term contributions of Commonwealth environmental water.
The evaluation framework includes 12 fixed sites across three of the six wetland zones (Nimmie-Caira, Redbank, and mid-Murrumbidgee) and three fixed sites across one zone in the Murrumbidgee River channel. These sites will be monitored continuously over the three year period to provide data on ecological condition that builds on our existing long-term dataset. Where practical monitoring activities are combined to allow data on multiple ecological indicators to be collected simultaneously. In wetlands this includes wetland fish, frogs, tadpoles, turtles, crustacea, waterbird diversity, vegetation diversity, water quality, water quality metrics associated with black water and algal bloom risks, and hydrology. In riverine sites this includes larval fish, crustacea, stream metabolism, water quality, water quality metrics associated with black water and algal bloom risks, and hydrology.
Additional taxonomic groups that may be monitored include floodplain reptiles. Reptiles are a major component of floodplain biodiversity, playing a key role in aquatic and terrestrial food webs. The Murrumbidgee region supports a diverse reptile community, including rare and endangered snake species (e.g. Grey Snake), however there have been few studies on the influence of managed environmental watering on the structure and function of floodplain reptile communities in Australia to date.