School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences - Research Publications

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    Fragmentation of lateral connectivity and fish population dynamics in large rivers
    Stoffels, RJ ; Humphries, P ; Bond, NR ; Price, AE (Wiley, 2022-05-01)
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    The politicisation of science in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia: discussion of 'Scientific integrity, public policy and water governance'
    Stewardson, MJ ; Bond, N ; Brookes, J ; Capon, S ; Dyer, F ; Grace, M ; Frazier, P ; Hart, B ; Horne, A ; King, A ; Langton, M ; Nathan, R ; Rutherfurd, I ; Sheldon, F ; Thompson, R ; Vertessy, R ; Walker, G ; Wang, QJ ; Wassens, S ; Watts, R ; Webb, A ; Western, AW (Taylor & Francis, 2021-10-30)
    Many water scientists aim for their work to inform water policy and management, and in pursuit of this objective, they often work alongside government water agencies to ensure their research is relevant, timely and communicated effectively. A paper in this issue, examining 'Science integrity, public policy and water governance in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia’, suggests that a large group of scientists, who work on water management in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) including the Basin Plan, have been subject to possible ‘administrative capture'. Specifically, it is suggested that they have advocated for policies favoured by government agencies with the objective of gaining personal benefit, such as increased research funding. We examine evidence for this claim and conclude that it is not justified. The efforts of scientists working alongside government water agencies appear to have been misinterpreted as possible administrative capture. Although unsubstantiated, this claim does indicate that the science used in basin water planning is increasingly caught up in the politics of water management. We suggest actions to improve science-policy engagement in basin planning, to promote constructive debate over contested views and avoid the over-politicisation of basin science.
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    Assessment of the causes and solutions to the significant 2018-19 fish deaths in the Lower Darling River, New South Wales, Australia
    Sheldon, F ; Barma, D ; Baumgartner, LJ ; Bond, N ; Mitrovic, SM ; Vertessy, R (CSIRO Publishing, 2022-01-01)
    In late 2018 to early 2019, three significant fish death events occurred in the Lower Darling River, Australia, with mortality estimates of millions of fish. We examined the proximate and ultimate causes of these events. We determined that not only were the conditions existing at the time a significant contributing factor, but that antecedent conditions, particularly during the period 2010–17, also contributed. The extreme hot and dry climate during 2018, extending into 2019, shaped the conditions that saw a large fish biomass, which had flourished in the Darling River and Menindee Lakes since favourable spawning conditions in 2016, isolated in weir pools, with no means of escaping upstream or downstream. Strong and persistent weir pool stratification created hypoxic conditions in the hypolimnion. A series of sudden cool changes subsequently initiated rapid and sudden mixing of the stratified waters, causing depletion of oxygen throughout the water column and resulting in the fish deaths. The events were also shaped by broader climatic, hydrological and basin management contexts that placed the Lower Darling River at risk of such fish deaths. Our observations have implications for future river management, and we make several suggestions how policy makers and river operators can minimise fish death risks into the future.
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    Basal resource quality and energy sources in three habitats of a lowland river ecosystem
    McInerney, PJ ; Holt, G ; Lester, RE ; Thompson, RM ; Robson, B ; Ryder, DS ; Bond, NR ; Baldwin, DS ; Gawne, B ; Petrie, R (WILEY, 2020-07-05)
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    Research priorities for natural ecosystems in a changing global climate
    Williams, SE ; Hobday, AJ ; Falconi, L ; Hero, J-M ; Holbrook, NJ ; Capon, S ; Bond, NR ; Ling, SD ; Hughes, L (WILEY, 2020-02-01)
    Climate change poses significant emerging risks to biodiversity, ecosystem function and associated socioecological systems. Adaptation responses must be initiated in parallel with mitigation efforts, but resources are limited. As climate risks are not distributed equally across taxa, ecosystems and processes, strategic prioritization of research that addresses stakeholder-relevant knowledge gaps will accelerate effective uptake into adaptation policy and management action. After a decade of climate change adaptation research within the Australian National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, we synthesize the National Adaptation Research Plans for marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems. We identify the key, globally relevant priorities for ongoing research relevant to informing adaptation policy and environmental management aimed at maximizing the resilience of natural ecosystems to climate change. Informed by both global literature and an extensive stakeholder consultation across all ecosystems, sectors and regions in Australia, involving thousands of participants, we suggest 18 priority research topics based on their significance, urgency, technical and economic feasibility, existing knowledge gaps and potential for cobenefits across multiple sectors. These research priorities provide a unified guide for policymakers, funding organizations and researchers to strategically direct resources, maximize stakeholder uptake of resulting knowledge and minimize the impacts of climate change on natural ecosystems. Given the pace of climate change, it is imperative that we inform and accelerate adaptation progress in all regions around the world.
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    Long-term acoustic telemetry reveals limited movement of fish in an unregulated, perennial river
    Carpenter-Bundhoo, L ; Butler, GL ; Bond, NR ; Bunn, SE ; Kennard, MJ (CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2021-06-25)
    Anthropogenic changes to river flows can alter hydrological connectivity and cues necessary for the movement of fish to complete their life cycles. Quantifying flow-related movement ecology of fish and understanding how this varies between species and river systems is important for effective environmental flow management. This study aimed to determine hydroecological factors that influence fish movements in an unregulated, perennial river and to compare these findings to fish from regulated river systems. Broad-scale movements of the endangered Maccullochella ikei and Tandanus tandanus were recorded over 3 years in the unregulated, perennial Nymboida River, Australia. The limited movements both species exhibited were infrequent and over short distances. Although M. ikei movements appeared mostly unrelated to environmental changes, T. tandanus moved on flow pulse peaks and were more likely to move during the breeding season. These findings contrast with previous studies of the same or similar species in differing flow regimes, suggesting that fish in perennial, highly connected rivers may not need to move as frequently as those in more regulated or intermittent systems. Should these disparate behaviours be present in other species occurring among contrasting flow regimes, it will be challenging to define generalisable environmental flow rules to inform river management.
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    The use of fatty acids to identify food sources of secondary consumers in wetland mesocosms
    Growns, I ; Ryder, D ; McInerney, P ; Bond, N ; Holt, G ; Lester, R ; Thompson, R (TAYLOR & FRANCIS INC, 2020-01-01)
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    Evaluating a landscape-scale daily water balance model to support spatially continuous representation of flow intermittency throughout stream networks
    Yu, S ; Do, HX ; van Dijk, AIJM ; Bond, NR ; Lin, P ; Kennard, MJ (COPERNICUS GESELLSCHAFT MBH, 2020-11-12)
    Abstract. There is a growing interest globally in the spatial distribution and temporal dynamics of intermittently flowing streams and rivers, and how this varies in relation to climatic and other environmental factors. However, biases in the distribution of stream gauges may give a misleading impression of spatial-temporal variations in streamflow intermittency within river networks. Here, we developed an approach to quantify catchment-wide streamflow intermittency over long time frames and in a spatially explicit manner, using readily accessible and spatially contiguous daily runoff data from a national-scale water balance model. We examined the ability of the water balance model to simulate streamflow in two hydro-climatically distinctive (subtropical and temperate) regions in Australia, with a particular focus on low-flow simulations. We also evaluated the effect of model time step (daily vs. monthly) on flow intermittency estimation to inform future model selection. The water balance model showed better performance in the temperate region characterised by steady baseflow than in the subtropical region with flashy hydrographs and frequent cease-to-flow periods. The model tended to overestimate low-flow magnitude mainly due to overestimation of gains (e.g. groundwater release to baseflow) during low-flow periods. Modelled patterns of flow intermittency revealed highly dynamic behaviour in space and time, with cease-to-flow events affecting between 29 and 80 % of the river network over the period of 1911–2016, using a daily streamflow model. The daily flow model did not perform better than the monthly flow model in quantifying flow intermittency at a monthly time step, and model selection should depend on the intended application of the model outputs. Our general approach to quantifying spatio-temporal patterns of flow intermittency is transferable to other parts of the world, and it can inform hydro-ecological understanding and management of intermittent streams where limited gauging data are available.
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    Effects of a low-head weir on multi-scaled movement and behavior of three riverine fish species
    Carpenter-Bundhoo, L ; Butler, GL ; Bond, NR ; Bunn, SE ; Reinfelds, I ; Kennard, MJ (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2020-04-22)
    Despite providing considerable benefits to society, dams and weirs threaten riverine ecosystems by disrupting movement and migration of aquatic animals and degrading riverine habitats. Whilst the ecological impacts of large dams are well studied, the ecological effects of low-head weirs that are periodically drowned out by high flows are less well-understood. Here we examine the effects of a low-head weir on fine- and broad-scale movements, habitat use, and breeding behaviour of three species of native freshwater fish in the Nymboida River in coastal eastern Australia. Acoustic telemetry revealed that eastern freshwater cod (Maccullochella ikei) and eel-tailed catfish (Tandanus tandanus) made few large-scale movements, but Australian bass (Percalates novemaculeata) upstream of the weir were significantly more mobile than those below the weir. Within the weir pool, all three species displayed distinctive patterns in fine-scale movement behaviour that were likely related the deeper lentic environment created by the weir. No individuals of any species crossed the weir during the study period. Tandanus tandanus nesting behaviour varied greatly above and below the weir, where individuals in the more lentic upstream environment nested in potentially sub-optimal habitats. Our results demonstrate the potential effects of low-head weirs on movement and behaviour of freshwater fishes.
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    Coupling environment and physiology to predict effects of climate change on the taxonomic and functional diversity of fish assemblages in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia (vol 14, e0225128, 2019)
    de Oliveira, GA ; Bailly, D ; Cassemiro, FAS ; Couto, EVD ; Bond, N ; Gilligan, D (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2020-02-20)
    [This corrects the article DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0225128.].