ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Basin-scale Evaluation and Research Services. Stage 2. (2020 - 2022)

Funding

CEWO with University of Canberra lead organisation.  UC, $101,750, CSIRO, $72,727. Total $174,477

Investigators/ Researchers

Associate Professor Skye Wassens, Professor Lee Baumgartner.

Research Theme

Environmental Water

Biodiversity Conservation

Description

This project is one of two components of the Basin-wide Flow-MER Program. Stage 2 of the CEWO's Basin-scale Evaluation and Research Services project, which is being led by the University of Canberra, is the implementation of the Basin Scale Evaluation and Research Plan which was developed in Stage 1. It involves the evaluation and research undertaken in accordance with the plan plus Basin-scale working group meetings, thematic working group meetings and CEWO MER steering committee meetings.

There are two ILWS researchers and a number of ILWS Adjuncts involved in Stage 2. Specifically they are contributing to the research being undertaken for three of the MER program's six Basin-wide themes, namely BiodiversityFish and the Food webs & water quality.

The Biodiversity theme aims to evaluate the contribution of Commonwealth environmental water to achieving
biodiversity outcomes. It is focussing on a range of species including waterbirds, frogs and freshwater turtles that
are likely to have been protected or restored by Commonwealth environmental water. Associate Professor Skye
Wassen is a member of the Biodiversity theme team. She is the project leader for the theme’s Species Evaluation
research project which will draw together monitoring data about threatened species across the Selected Areas and
the Basin Themes to assess which animals are influenced by the delivery of environmental water.

The Fish Theme will evaluate the benefits Commonwealth environmental water provides to native fish populations,
and improve understanding of flow-related ecology and population dynamics of native fish to ultimately inform
fish outcomes in the future. Fish theme team members from ILWS are Professor Lee Baumgartner, and Institute
Adjunct Dr Jason Thiem who are expected to be involved in the theme’s two new projects on fish population
models; and flow, movement and fish population dynamics.

The Food webs & water quality theme aims to understand, and be able to predict how Commonwealth environmental
water in the Murray-Darling basin influences water quality (nutrients, temperature, light, and salinity), which in
turn can regulate rates of metabolism and productivity (energy availability for higher order consumers). Food webs
and water quality theme team members associated with ILWS include ILWS Adjuncts and CSIRO researchers Dr
Paul McInerney and Dr Gavin Rees. Paul co-leads the theme with Professor Darren Ryder from the University of
New England and both he and Gavin will focus on the basin-wide research components of the program.

Outcome

Monitoring, evaluation and research (MER) are critical to ensure that the use of Commonwealth environmental water achieves the best outcomes for our rivers, wetlands and floodplains, as well as the animals, plants and people that depend upon them.

Flow-MER is now the primary means by which the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) will monitor and evaluate the delivery of Commonwealth environmental water in the Murray-Darling Basin.  The work of Flow-MER will support environmental water managers, demonstrate outcomes, inform adaptive management, and fulfil the legislative requirements associated with managing Commonwealth owned environmental water.

Contact

Associate Professor Skye Wassens

Albury-Wodonga campus, Email

Professor Lee Baumgartner

Albury-Wodonga campus, Email

February 2021