Development, hydrology and ecosystems

Posted on May 26, 2009

How does the development of water resources affect the functioning of river ecosystems?  In particular, what are the impacts of water extraction and flow regulation?  Comparisons of north Australian rivers with those in the Murray-Darling basin, which can be used as reference systems to assess post-development change, suggest that there are three main hydrological drivers of ecological function.  These are the regularity and permanence of flows, the variability and absence of flows, and the extent of wet-dry seasonality.  The findings emphasize the need for water resource development to be carried out in an ecologically-sensitive fashion.

Reference:  Leigh, C. & Sheldon, F. 2008 Hydrological changes and ecological impacts associated with water resource development in large floodplain rivers in the Australian tropics. River Research & Applications 24: 1251–1270.

Posted in: hydrology, water flow