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World-leading research on
managing water for the environment

World-leading research on managing water for the environment

Treat yourself to a mini-conference without having to leave the desk.

The Flow-MER Program brings together Australian scientists, water managers, First Nations people and local communities across the Murray-Darling Basin to undertake on-ground monitoring, evaluation and research on how best to manage water allocated specifically for the environment.

This page features 16 presentations brought to life with a beautiful, bespoke illustration created by local artist Nina Rupena. The presentations share a wealth of knowledge from the latest science and research undertaken across the Murray-Darling Basin. So grab a cuppa and enjoy exploring the virtual conference below!

The Flow-MER Program brings together Australian scientists, water managers, First Nations people and local communities across the Murray-Darling Basin to undertake on-ground monitoring, evaluation and research on how best to manage water allocated specifically for the environment.

Last Updated: 27th April 2022

HOW TO USE THIS PAGE:
1. Click the blue markers
2. Read about the research undertaken
3. Watch the research findings

A full list of the research videos is provided below:

This page features 16 presentations brought to life with a beautiful, bespoke illustration created by local artist Nina Rupena. To enjoy the full interactive experience, we recommend viewing this web page on a desktop device.

The presentations share a wealth of knowledge from the latest science and research undertaken across the Murray-Darling Basin. So grab a cuppa and we hope you enjoy the presentations below.

For any further enquiries, please contact Professor Ross Thompson (Research lead) on ross.thompson@canberra.edu.au

1. A spatial model to monitor the response of woody vegetation to environmental water

This project uses over 20 years of satellite data to see how trees respond to water. Understanding how different areas respond to varying flood frequency can inform watering regimes for different forests of the Basin.

2. Moving beyond ‘just add water’: perspectives on the challenges, needs and opportunities for environmental flows for vegetation outcomes

Outcomes for wetland and understory vegetation can be influenced by factors beyond water regime. Complementary management activities such as protection from grazing may together with water for the environment can be critical for the successful recovery of non-woody vegetation. 

3. Satellite tracking ibis and spoonbill movements to inform wetland and water management

Five years of tracking waterbird movements in eastern Australia is showing us how, when, where and why birds are migrating. Understanding these movements is important for managing water for the environment to enable birds to successfully move, feed and breed throughout their entire life cycle. 

4. Role of winter environmental watering in supporting declining freshwater turtle populations

Tracking turtle movements from wetlands to the river channel is highlighting the importance of winter flows to connect wetlands with river channels. This project shows how winter flows and connectivity will be important for the recovery of turtle populations.

5. Methods to improve in-channel habitat and complement environmental flows

Having a mix of habitat within the river is important for plants and animals to survive and breed. This project used garden stakes in the Goulburn River to create structure which trapped organic matter and created slower flowing water; encouraging organisms, macroinvertebrates and fish to move in.

6. Basin-scale modelling framework development and demonstration

Modelling continues to be an important tool for managers to make decisions about water management. This project provides a framework for developing models to test scenarios such as changes in climate and water regimes, to inform future water delivery.

7. Basin food web model development

Mapping and understanding food webs allow managers to see how energy is being transferred from smaller to larger animals. This project helps show the patterns in energy movement within the food web and how water for the environment can influence this.

8. Regional and inter-regional fish movement responses to varying river discharge

This project combines both tagged fish movement data with otolith microchemistry to understand fish movement across the Murray-Darling Basin. Patterns are emerging of fish moving between river systems and this project is starting to link these movements to flow seasonal and annual flow patterns.

9. From productivity to Murray cod recruitment in the Lower Murray

Fish survival can be limited by food availability. Examining the diets of juvenile Murray Cod helps determine important food sources and the implications for flow management. Floodplain connectivity provides an important carbon source for organisms eaten by larval Murray Cod.

10. Fish populations models

Fish population models have the potential to inform multi-year environmental water management across the Murray-Darling Basin. This project identifies sub-populations for various species across the basin including clear source and sink populations. The models aim to help managers prioritise water use to recover native fish.

11. Edward/Kolety River physical habitat research

Flow management can impact the patterns of erosion and deposition of soil on riverbanks. This study examines the impact of long, stable flows can have on bank stability and erosion in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool system, in NSW. It demonstrates how drone mapping can accurately detect bank erosion and deposition to improve river operations.

12. Using audio visualisations and other media to create engaging digital portrayals of wetland ecosystems

In a new way to communicate the benefits of water for the environment, this project visualises the different sounds of the Nap Nap swamp wetlands as it receives environmental flows from the Murrumbidgee River.

13. The role of environmental water and reed bed condition on the response of Phragmites australis reed beds to flooding

The Great Cumbung Swamp in the Lachlan River has the largest stand of common reeds in the Basin. This project showed how drone surveys, modelling and machine learning can be used to map reed condition with a high degree of accuracy. This method can detect the benefits of water for the environment on reed condition.

14. Monitoring range expansions following delivery of e-water using eDNA

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is an emerging technology which can help detect species via a less intrusive and potentially more cost-effective method. This project the potential benefits for monitoring water for the environment, including by detecting cryptic species and range expansion of native fish.

15. Stakeholder perspectives on using water for the environment

This project engaged with stakeholders in the Edward/Kolety-Wakool river system to better understand social aspects of learning and adaptive management. The results from a community survey showed that everyone would like to see a healthier river system and there is a need to better understand the social views on rivers to inform adaptive management.

16. Scaling diversity from ecosystems to the Basin

This project examines the diversity of different ecosystems across the Murray-Darling Basin using a range of satellite sensor data. It shows the opportunities and challenges of using this approach at different scales to manage water for a diverse range of habitats.

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The Flow-MER program team acknowledge and respect the Traditional Owners as the First Peoples of the lands and waters of the Murray Darling Basin.

We recognise their unique ability to care for Country and their deep spiritual connection to it. We honour Elders past and present whose knowledge and wisdom has ensured the continuation of culture and traditional practices.

Illustration by Nina Rupena Studio

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