ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

EWKR food web fish community trophic dynamics (2018-2019)


Commonwealth Environmental Water Office via Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre, $40,000


Dr Keller Kopf

Research Theme

Environmental Water


The Murray-Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research (EWKR) project is a six year (2014-2019) $10 million project which aims to improve the science available to support environmental water management and thereby contribute to achieving the Murray-Darling Basin Plan objectives.

The EWKR project is focussed around five research themes – vegetation, fish, waterbirds, foodwebs and Queensland floodplain vegetation.

This food web theme project, entitled Murray-Darling Basin fish community trophic position indicator is led by Charles Sturt University in collaboration with state fisheries agencies, MDFRC and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Long Term Intervention Monitoring Project. It will develop and test a trophic position indicator for Murray-Darling basin fishes utilising the fish community sampling that is being done as part of the Basin-wide Long -Term Intervention Monitoring.

The aim is to develop an annual basin-scale indicator for monitoring long-term changes in the trophic position (trophic level and diversity of food resources) of Murray-Darling Basin fishes, with potential application for management and restoration activities including monitoring ecological responses to environmental flows. Since river flow regimes are drivers of food and energy production and influence how different sources of nutrients enter food webs, the trophic position indicator may be a useful tool to evaluate ecosystem responses to environmental flows.

Starting in 2018, tissue samples will be collected from a range of fish species around the Murray-Darling and analyses of nitrogen and carbon isotopes will be used to estimate the trophic position of the fish community. This one year project is intended to serve as a pilot study to test the feasibility and utility of using a trophic position indicator as a tool for annual monitoring of long-term ecosystem changes in the Murray-Darling.


The expected outcome of this project is the development of a trophic position indicator and a peer reviewed publication which can be used as a tool to monitor long- term ecosystem changes in the Murray-Darling Basin.


Dr Keller Kopf  email
CSU Albury-Wodonga campus

July 2018