Kath, Jarrod and Le Brocque, Andrew and Miller, Craig (2010) Eco-hydrology of dynamic wetlands in an Australian agricultural landscape: a whole of system approach for understanding climate change impacts. In: BALWOIS 2010: Water Observation and Information System for Decision Support , 25-29 May 2010, Ohrid, Macedonia.
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Increasing rates of water extraction and regulation of hydrologic processes, coupled with destruction of natural vegetation, pollution and climate change, are jeopardizing the future persistence of wetlands and the ecological and socio-economic functions they support. Globally, it is estimated that 50% of wetlands have been lost since the 1900’s, with agricultural changes being the main cause. In some agricultural areas of Australia, losses as high as 98% have occurred. Wetlands remaining in agricultural landscapes suffer degradation and their resilience and ability to continue functioning under hydrologic and land use changes resulting from climate change may be significantly inhibited. However, information on floodplain wetlands is sparse and knowledge of how ecological functioning and resilience may change under future land use intensification and climate change is lacking in many landscapes. These knowledge gaps pose significant problems for the future sustainable management of biodiversity and agricultural activities which rely on the important services supplied by wetland ecosystems. This research evaluates the impact that hydrology and land use has on the perennial vegetation associated with wetlands in an agricultural landscape, the Condamine Catchment of southeast Queensland, Australia. A geographical information system (GIS) was used to measure hydrological and land use variables and a bayesian modeling averaging approach was used to generate generalised linear models for vegetation response variables. Connectivity with the river and hydrological variability had consistently significant positive relationships with vegetation cover and abundance. Land use practices such as, irrigated agriculture and grazing had consistently significant negative impacts. Consequently, to understand how climate change will impact on the ecohydrological functioning of wetlands, both hydrological and land use changes need to be considered. Results from this research will now be used to investigate how resilient these systems will be to different potential scenarios of climate change.
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