Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Linking water-resource models to ecosystem-response models to guide water-resource planning – an example from the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia

Rebecca E. Lester A C , Ian T. Webster B , Peter G. Fairweather A and William J. Young B

A School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, SA 5001, Australia.

B CSIRO Land and Water, Clunies Ross Street, Black Mountain, ACT 2601, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: Rebecca.Lester@flinders.edu.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 62(3) 279-289 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF09298
Submitted: 30 November 2009  Accepted: 10 October 2010   Published: 18 March 2011

Abstract

Objectively assessing ecological benefits of competing watering strategies is difficult. We present a framework of coupled models to compare scenarios, using the Coorong, the estuary for the Murray–Darling River system in South Australia, as a case study. The framework links outputs from recent modelling of the effects of climate change on water availability across the Murray–Darling Basin to a hydrodynamic model for the Coorong, and then an ecosystem-response model. The approach has significant advantages, including the following: (1) evaluating management actions is straightforward because of relatively tight coupling between impacts on hydrology and ecology; (2) scenarios of 111 years reveal the impacts of realistic climatic and flow variability on Coorong ecology; and (3) ecological impact is represented in the model by a series of ecosystem states, integrating across many organisms, not just iconic species. We applied the approach to four flow scenarios, comparing conditions without development, current water-use levels, and two predicted future climate scenarios. Simulation produced a range of hydrodynamic conditions and consequent distributions of ecosystem states, allowing managers to compare scenarios. This approach could be used with many climates and/or management actions for optimisation of flow delivery to environmental assets.

Additional keywords: climate change, Coorong, ecosystem states, environmental flows, environmental management, hydrodynamic modelling, Ramsar wetland, water extraction.


References

Arthington, A. H., and Pusey, B. J. (2003). Flow restoration and protection in Australian rivers. River Research and Applications 19, 377–395.
Flow restoration and protection in Australian rivers.CrossRef | open url image1

Arthington, A. H., Bunn, S. E., Poff, N. L., and Naiman, R. J. (2006). The challenge of providing environmental flow rules to sustain river ecosystems. Ecological Applications 16, 1311–1318.
The challenge of providing environmental flow rules to sustain river ecosystems.CrossRef | 16937799PubMed | open url image1

Brookes, J. D., Lamontagne, S., Aldridge, K. T., Benger, S., Bissett, A., et al. (2009). An ecosystem assessment framework to guide management of the Coorong, Final report of the CLLAMMecology Research Cluster. CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, Canberra. Available at www.csiro.au/partnerships/CLLAMMecologyCluster [accessed 30 June 2010].

Budds, J. (2009). Contested H2O: science, policy and politics in water resources management in Chile. Geoforum 40, 418–430.
Contested H2O: science, policy and politics in water resources management in Chile.CrossRef | open url image1

Chiew, F., Teng, J., Kirono, D., Frost, A., Bathols, J., et al. (2008a). Climate data for hydrologic scenario modelling across the Murray–Darling Basin. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray–Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project. CSIRO, Canberra.

Chiew, F. H. S., Vaze, J., Viney, N. R., Jordan, P. W., Perraud, J. M., et al. (2008b). Rainfall–runoff modelling across the Murray–Darling Basin. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray–Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project. CSIRO.

Crosbie, R. S., McCallum, J. L., Walker, G. R., and Chiew, F. H. S. (2008). Diffuse groundwater recharge modelling across the Murray–Darling Basin. A report to the Australian government from the CSIRO Murray–Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project. CSIRO.

CSIRO (2008). Water availability in the Murray. A report to the Australian Government from CSIRO Murray–Darling Basin Sustainable Yield Project. CSIRO, Canberra.

Fairweather, P. G., and Lester, R. E. (2010). Predicting future ecological degradation based on modelled thresholds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 413, 291–304.
Predicting future ecological degradation based on modelled thresholds.CrossRef | open url image1

Goode, A. M., and Barnett, B. G. (2008). Southern Riverine Plains groundwater model calibration report. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray–Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project. CSIRO.

Kingsford, R. T., Walker, K. F., Lester, R. E., Young, W. J., Fairweather, P. G., et al. (2011). A Ramsar wetland in crisis – the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 62, 255–265.
A Ramsar wetland in crisis – the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth, Australia.CrossRef | open url image1

Lester, R. E., and Fairweather, P. G. (2009a). Ecosystem states of the Coorong, An ecosystem response model. Method development and sensitivity analyses. CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship. Available at www.csiro.au/partnerships/CLLAMMecologyCluster [accessed 30 June 2010].

Lester, R. E., and Fairweather, P. G. (2009). Modelling future conditions in the degraded semi-arid estuary of Australia’s largest river using ecosystem states. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 85, 1–11.
Modelling future conditions in the degraded semi-arid estuary of Australia’s largest river using ecosystem states.CrossRef | open url image1

Lester, R. E., and Fairweather, P. G. (2010). Ecosystem response modelling of the Murray Mouth and Coorong lagoons. In ‘Ecosystem Response Modelling in the Murray Darling Basin’. (Eds N. Saintilan and I. Overton.) pp. 373–389. (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Lester, R. E., Webster, I. T., Fairweather, P. G., and Langley, R. A. (2009). Predicting the future ecological condition of the Coorong. Effects of management and climate change scenarios. CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, Canberra. Available at www.csiro.au/partnerships/CLLAMMecologyCluster [accessed 30 June 2010].

Lund, J. R., Hanak, E., Fleenor, W. E., Bennett, W. A., Howitt, R. E., et al. (2010). ‘Comparing Futures for the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta.’ Freshwater Ecology Series. (University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.)

Newman, B. (2000). Hydrology of the Lower Lakes and Coorong. In ‘River Murray Barrages, Environmental Flows – An evaluation of the environmental flow needs in the Lower Lakes and Coorong’. (Eds A. Jensen, M. Good, P. Tucker and M. Long.) pp. 14–22. (Murray–Darling Basin Commission: Adelaide.)

NLWRA (National Land and Water Resources Audit) (2001). ‘Surface and Groundwater – Availability and Quality.’ (NLWRA: Canberra.)

Paton, D. C., Rogers, D. J., Hill, B. M., Bailey, C. P., and Ziembicki, M. (2009). Temporal changes to spatially-stratified waterbird communities of the Coorong, South Australia: implications for the management of heterogeneous wetlands. Animal Conservation 12, 408–417.
Temporal changes to spatially-stratified waterbird communities of the Coorong, South Australia: implications for the management of heterogeneous wetlands.CrossRef | open url image1

Petraitis, P. S., and Dudgeon, S. R. (2004). Detection of alternative stable states in marine communities. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 300, 343–371.
Detection of alternative stable states in marine communities.CrossRef | open url image1

Petts, G. E. (2009). Instream flow science for sustainable river management. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 45, 1071–1086.
Instream flow science for sustainable river management.CrossRef | open url image1

Phillips, B., and Muller, K. (2006). ‘Ecological Character Description, Coorong, Lakes Alexandrina and Albert, Wetland of International Importance.’ (South Australian Department for Environment and Heritage, SA Government: Adelaide.)

Poff, L. N., and Zimmerman, J. K. H. (2010). Ecological responses to altered flow regimes: a literature review to inform the science and management of environmental flows. Freshwater Biology 55, 194–205.
Ecological responses to altered flow regimes: a literature review to inform the science and management of environmental flows.CrossRef | open url image1

Poff, N. L., Allan, J. D., Palmer, M. A., Hart, D. D., Richter, B. D., et al. (2003). River flows and water wars: emerging science for environmental decision making. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1, 298–306.
River flows and water wars: emerging science for environmental decision making.CrossRef | open url image1

Poff, N. L., Richter, B. D., Arthington, A. H., Bunn, S. E., Naiman, R. J., et al. (2010). The ecological limits of hydrologic alteration (ELOHA): a new framework for developing regional environmental flow standards. Freshwater Biology 55, 147–170.
The ecological limits of hydrologic alteration (ELOHA): a new framework for developing regional environmental flow standards.CrossRef | open url image1

Powell, J. L. (2008). ‘Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming, and the Future of Water in the West.’ (University of California Press: Berkeley, CA.)

Puckridge, J. T., Sheldon, F., Walker, K. F., and Boulton, A. J. (1998). Flow variability and the ecology of large rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 49, 55–72.
Flow variability and the ecology of large rivers.CrossRef | open url image1

Saintilan, N., and Overton, I. (2010). ‘Ecosystem Response Modelling in the Murray–Darling Basin.’ (CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.)

Steinberg, D., and Golovnya, M. (2007). ‘CART 6.0 User’s Guide.’ (Salford Systems: San Diego, CA.)

Tharme, R. E. (2003). A global perspective on environmental flow assessment: emerging trends in the development and application of environmental flow methodologies for rivers. River Research and Applications 19, 397–441.
A global perspective on environmental flow assessment: emerging trends in the development and application of environmental flow methodologies for rivers.CrossRef | open url image1

Thoms, M. C., and Sheldon, F. (2002). An ecosystem approach for determining environmental water allocations in Australian dryland river systems: the role of geomorphology. Geomorphology 47, 153–168.
An ecosystem approach for determining environmental water allocations in Australian dryland river systems: the role of geomorphology.CrossRef | open url image1

Van Dijk, A. I. J. M., Kirby, J. M., Paydar, Z., Podger, G., Mainuddin, M. D., et al. (2008). Uncertainty in river modelling across the Murray–Darling Basin. A report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Murray–Darling Basin Sustainable Yields Project. Water for a Healthy Country Flagship, CSIRO, Canberra.

Webster, I. T. (2010). The hydrodynamics and salinity dynamics of a coastal lagoon – The Coorong, Australia – Seasonal to multi-decadal time scales. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 90, 264–274.
The hydrodynamics and salinity dynamics of a coastal lagoon – The Coorong, Australia – Seasonal to multi-decadal time scales.CrossRef | open url image1

Williams, J. G. (2010). Lost in space, the sequel: spatial sampling issues with 1-D PHABSIM. River Research and Applications 26, 341–352. open url image1

Zhang, L., and Dawes, W. (1998). WAVES – an integrated energy and water balance model. Technical Report No. 31/98, CSIRO Land and Water, Canberra.



Supplementary MaterialSupplementary Material (40 KB) Export Citation