Flow-MER Fridays: Series 3

Four consecutive Fridays from October 22 2021. 

Image: Flow-MER team member checking a fyke net. Credit: Jamie Turner

Session #1: 22 October 2021  

Why we need systems thinking to manage the MDB

Systems thinking means the whole is greater than the sum of the parts due to system interactions. This includes basin-scale hydrological and ecological interactions, interactions between the natural and human environment as part of a socio-ecological system, and coordination between organisations and stakeholders.  We reflect on the substantive advances we have made over the last 10 years, as well as some of the big challenges that remain – including scaling through space and time, adapting to a changing climate, and enabling basin-scale coordination.

Ross Thompson is a freshwater ecologist, interested in the study of aquatic biodiversity, ecosystem function and food web ecology. Ross is the director of the Centre for Applied Water Science, University of Canberra.

Shane Brooks is an aquatic ecologist with over 30 years of experience, and a passion for robust science, sustainable management and restoration. He seeks to ensure environmental water management is underpinned by the best available science, while simultaneously creating new knowledge.

Emily Barbour is a Senior Research Scientist in hydrology at CSIRO and the Co-Leader of the Flow-MER Basin project. Emily works on a diverse range of water issues within Australia and internationally, focusing on collaboratively generating knowledge and tools to support decision making for complex environmental challenges.

Session #2: 29 October 2021  

Stakeholder perspectives on using water for the environment in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool river system

This webinar will provide an overview of social research undertaken by researchers from Charles Sturt University as part of the Edward/Kolety-Wakool Selected Area Flow-MER project. Understanding how people feel about ‘Water for the environment’ can help water managers and user groups plan their activities and communication. We have been undertaking research with a range of people (aka ‘stakeholders’) with an interest in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool river system to better understand social aspects of learning and adaptive management. We share some insights from this research, focusing on the results of a recent community questionnaire.

Catherine Allan is Associate Professor in Environmental Sociology and Planning at Charles Sturt University, Albury-Wodonga campus, Australia. Catherine’s research focus is adaptive management of ‘natural resources’ including of soil and freshwater, both above and below ground. She has particular interest in social learning, evaluation and institutional arrangements in this complex field. Catherine is involved in research in Australia and Pakistan, including undertaking social research in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool river system.

Robyn Watts is a Professor in Environmental Science at Charles Sturt University, where she teaches and leads interdisciplinary research projects on the ecology, management and restoration of river ecosystems. Her research focuses on ecosystem responses to environmental flows in the Murray-Darling Basin. Robyn works in partnership with biophysical scientists, social scientists, natural resource managers, practitioners and the community to integrate research findings with other knowledge to improve outcomes for river systems and communities.

Session #3: 5 November 2021  

Biodiversity in the Basin

Freshwater ecosystems are biodiversity hotspots. In the Murray-Darling Basin rivers and wetlands support numerous rare and threatened species and are vital habitats for many migratory waterbird species. We introduce the frogs, reptiles, waterbirds, mammals and monotremes in the Murray Darling Basin and discuss how managed environmental water deliveries can support biodiversity.

Skye Wassens is the Principal Scientist and an internationally recognised ecologist at Charles Sturt University specialising in aquatic ecology and the conservation of wetland dependant amphibians.

Session #4: 12 November 2021  

Fish and flows in the MDB: Learnings from the Fish Theme Basin-Scale Evaluation

The Basin-scale evaluation describes fish responses to Commonwealth environmental water for 2019–20 as well as the cumulative outcomes since monitoring began in 2014 to answer the following evaluation question: What did Commonwealth environmental water contribute to sustaining native fish at the Basin-scale? In this webinar we discuss fish and flows in the Murray-Darling Basin, current findings from the Basin-scale evaluation and challenges and future directions for assessing fish population responses to flows.

Sally Hladyz is contributing to the Fish Theme Basin-scale Evaluation for Flow-MER. She is a community and ecosystem freshwater ecologist based at the Arthur Rylah Institute. Her research focus is on linking biodiversity, ecosystem function and food webs in an applied context to help improve the management of freshwater ecosystems. She has expertise in determining environmental flow benefits for rivers and wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Brenton Zampatti is the co-Project Leader for the Flows, Movement and Fish Population Dynamics research project, and a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO. He has worked for 25 years on the ecology of freshwater and estuarine fish across south-eastern Australia, including flow-related ecology and population dynamics, habitat requirements, and fish movement and passage. He works closely with managers and the community to transfer knowledge and research outcomes to the conservation of freshwater ecosystems.

Ivor Stuart is the Theme Leader for the CEWO FLow-MER Fish Theme, and a freshwater fisheries biologist – with over 25 years industry experience in environmental flow planning, river management, fish passage and fish ecology. Ivor has worked in the tropical north, the semi-arid western rivers of NSW/Qld and in the temperate rivers of Victoria.

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