Ecological Responses to Flooding in the Lower River Murray Following an Extended Drought

News Title:

2024 CLLMM Science Forum, Workshop held to improve outcomes in the Ecohydrological conceptual Models and Impact Pathway diagrams Project, 60 seconds with Prof Tom Raimondo, 60 seconds with the Goyder Chair, Jody Swirepik, Update on the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Research Centre, Outputs from National Drinking Water Forum in remote First Nations communities Released, Successful Launch of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLMM) Research Centre, New Fact Sheet: Translating Yannarumi into Water Resource Risk Assessments, Thank you for all those who attended Science in The Pub!, Join us for the Annual #WORLDWATERRUN from 18-24th March!, Science in the Pub presents "The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth: A journey through droughts and floods.", Join us to Launch the New CLLMM Research Centre, New Project: Analysis of changes in high-intensity rainfall events in South Australia, Goyder Institute 2023 Annual Report Reflects on a Busy Year, New Project: Measuring the impact of Ground Water extractions on Mound Springs in Northern South Australia, CLLMM Research Centre announces a new location in the region, Goyder Institute for Water Research announces new Chair, New Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Research Centre has hit the ground running. , New Project Aims to Understand the Environmental Response of the Coorong to the 2022-2023 River Murray Flood Event, Another New Member of Staff Joins the Goyder Institute, Goyder Institute welcomes another new staff member to the team, New Goyder Institute CLLMM Research Centre Participates in Collaborative Effort to Assist with Environmental DNA Sampling for Threatened Species, Delivering a Better Understanding of Water and Ecological interactions in the Braemar, Stuart Shelf and Northern Eyre Peninsula regions for Sustainable Development, Goyder Institute announces new Director, Goyder Institute welcomes three new staff to the team, Are you the Goyder Institute’s new Communications and Engagement Coordinator?, One Basin CRC holds its first annual event, Messages from the Working together for better drinking water in the bush forum warmly received by Federal Minister Plibersek, Research to continue on environmental impact of recent floods, Help us drive sustainable, innovative and integrated water management, Farewell to Daniel Pierce, Introducing the Goyder Institute's 2023-2026 Strategic Plan, Working together for better drinking water for bush communities, Coorong Research Hub to embark on program to address the effects of climate change, Goyder Institute welcomes two new staff to the team, Supporting climate change resilience in the Coorong, New website goes live, Institute research on show at Healthy Coorong Healthy Basin Science Forum, Goyder Institute takes home back-to-back national R&D excellence awards, Increased flushing vital to Coorong’s long-term health, Ruppia restoration strategy released for southern Coorong, Institute scientists head to River Murray to study environmental impacts of flood, Your chance to contribute to the development of a Resilient Water Future for Greater Adelaide, Institute embarks on a strategic planning refresh, Team Goyder is off and running again for World Water Day, Goyder Institute extended to 2026, New research report reveals pathway to keeping Adelaide’s liveable city status, Chair Prof Barry Hart releases Institute's 2022 Annual Report, A year in review and farewell from our Director, Goyder Institute’s Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Research Project wins R&D Excellence Award, How feasible is a water resource rating system for South Australia?, New research project in the South-East kicks off with aerial survey of groundwater, Australian Government announces new Research Hub of the Goyder Institute to support the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region, Australian Government announces new Research Hub of the Goyder Institute to support the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region, Chair announcement: Goyder Institute leadership update, Policy changes are needed to better protect environmental water from climate change in the Murray-Darling Basin, Join us as the Goyder Institute prepares to Sweat4Soap once more, Limestone Coast Landscape Board partners with the Goyder Institute to investigate adaptation of the South-East drainage network, New videos showcase research to inform the management of the Coorong, One Basin CRC takes initial steps towards shaping its research program, The South Australian Government and Goyder Institute partner to establish a Water Ambassador, One Basin CRC advances towards establishment with key roles formed, How feasible is land-based aquaculture in South Australia?, Major step towards Institute’s goals achieved as Coorong research concludes, Goyder Institute wins national award for Research Excellence, One Basin CRC to drive a sustainable future for the Murray-Darling Basin, New research project established to explore the feasibility of a water resource rating system, Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Program fieldwork wraps up, Goyder Institute research supports $10 million investment to improve shorebird habitat, Floods and recent climate projections highlight the importance of ongoing water reform, Water Resources Conference at the World Expo in Dubai identifies new international partnership opportunities, ONE Basin Cooperative Research Centre takes another important step forward, New project established to inform future urban water management options for Adelaide, In Focus: Research providing knowledge to identify climate adaptation pathways for the Coorong and Lower Lakes region, Running for World Wetlands Day (2 February 2022), 2022 shaping up to be an important year, Great progress towards our third term goals as 2021 draws to a close, In Focus: Research providing knowledge to restore a functioning Coorong food web, Welcome news for the ONE Basin Cooperative Research Centre, Impact of second-term projects continue to ‘flow’, Goyder Institute announced as winner of Australian Water Association’s SA Branch R&D award, The Goyder Institute’s new Interim Director looks to an exciting year ahead, In Focus: Research providing knowledge to maintain viable waterbird populations in the Coorong South Lagoon, Goyder Institute team surpasses its #Sweat4Soap target, Call for participation – water resources conference at World Expo in Dubai, Independent evaluation highlights success of Institute’s second term, Goyder Institute team commits to #Sweat4Soap, In Focus: Research providing knowledge to inform the future management of aquatic plants and algae in the Coorong South Lagoon, In Focus: Research providing knowledge to inform the future management of nutrient levels in the Coorong South Lagoon, Goyder Institute partners in the ONE Basin CRC rebid, IPCC 2021 Report on Climate Change emphasises need for the Goyder Institute to continue to support climate mitigation and adaptation, Goyder Institute showcases its Strategic Plan, Goyder Institute unveils new branding, The Sustainable Development Goals and the Goyder Institute for Water Research, Coorong scientific research project crosses halfway mark, Translating Ngarrindjeri Yannarumi into water resource risk assessments, Reducing fine sediment loads into Adelaide’s coastal waters, Project Coorong’s Science Forum resources now available, From South Lagoon to Siberia: tracking Coorong waterbirds via satellite, Interim management updates, New South Australian Government Climate Change Action Plan provides framework for future research of the Goyder Institute, Institute welcomes new Research Program Manager, ONE Basin CRC bid Stage 2 progresses to final stages, Congratulations Prof McKay – winner Premier’s Water Professional of the Year Award, Second term finishes strong – a year in review from the Director, ANNOUNCEMENT: Goyder Institute welcomes a new Chair and Management Board and Research Advisory Committee representatives, Citizen Science: a key part of the Goyder Institute’s involvement in the HCHB program, Finding ancient water in the outback – new research to support remote communities and enterprises, Vale Professor Peter Teasdale, Goyder Institute partners with the Australian and South Australian governments to restore a wetland of international importance - the Coorong’s South Lagoon, ANNOUNCEMENT: Goyder Institute partners establish the third term of the Institute, ONE Basin CRC bid continues to take shape to address the needs of basin governments, industries and communities, Flow on effects – new tools to support the integrated management of river flows and floodplain infrastructure along the River Murray, Advancing integrated management of Spencer Gulf for economic, social and ecological outcomes, Sea grass communities in Gulf St Vincent to benefit from new stormwater management intervention project, ICE WaRM ceases operations after 15 years of advancing excellence in water leadership across the globe, Agricultural technologies in South Australia survey, Investigations underway to help restore the Coorong, Expert panel recommendations inform changes to groundwater management in the Lower Limestone Coast, ONE Basin CRC bid gains momentum, R&D plan charts course for the year ahead, New research papers outline innovative approaches for water exploration and palaeovalley evolution, Call for expressions of interest – ONE Basin Cooperative Research Centre, A year in review from the Director, Research establishes proof of concept for blue carbon benefits from tidal reconnection of coastal wetlands, New research identifies the importance of healthy coastal habitats for combating climate change, New tools to help growers sustainably expand production in the Northern Adelaide Corridor, New research advances blue carbon opportunities in South Australia, Goyder Institute joins Smart Water Mission to New Zealand, Women changing the future of water, State Government seeks community feedback on Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin Action Plan, Water managers now able to predict potential foodweb changes associated with floodplain inundation, Women in Water -- visibility matters, SA's droughts are getting worse -- new published research informed by Institute's SA Climate Ready data, G-FLOWS project enters final stages -- characterising the dimensions of a newly discovered paleochannel in the APY Lands, Goyder Institute for Water Research awarded Minister's Award for Excellence, Goyder Institute projects recognised for informing international best practice approaches to Indigenous engagement, Congratulations to Darryl Day -- Water Professional of the Year, Goyder Institute releases findings of independent review of the science underpinning water allocation reductions in the South East, Carbon offsets research to support the State Carbon Sequestration Strategy

Project Partners:

SARDI, CSIRO, Flinders University, and The University of Adelaide

Research Theme:

N/A

Status:

Project Overview

The overall project objective of Murray Flood Ecology (MFE) was to investigate the ecological response to flooding in the lower River Murray following an extended drought. The project had 11 research tasks with specific objectives to investigate:

  • The influence of flow on abiotic and biotic conditions in the River Murray channel.
  • Flow induced alterations in total river metabolism and changes in component contributions.
  • Annual variation in larval fish assemblages in a heavily regulated lowland river.
  • Effects of flooding on recruitment and abundance of golden perch in the lower River Murray.
  • Movement and mortality of Murray cod during overbank flows in the lower River Murray.
  • Flow induced alterations to aquatic macrophyte communities and fish assemblages in the River Murray channel.
  • What is the response of wetland fish assemblages following flooding?
  • Resilience and resistance of aquatic plant communities downstream of Lock 1 in the River Murray.
  • Investigate the response of river red gums to the current flow/flooding event.
  • Floodplain response and recovery: comparison between natural and artificial floods.
  • Conceptual river–ecosystem model.

All these objectives were achieved through field-based research or desktop study (modelling). Workshops were also run engaging stakeholders and independent experts from interstate to ensure the quality of the research outputs from this project and to maximise the outcomes.

Progress Update and Key Findings

The project captured an unique opportunity to investigate ecological response to a natural flood (>90,000 ML/day) in the lower River Murray following about ten years drought. The project took a holistic approach, undertaking research on flow/flood related ecological processes and the response of key biota across the main channel, wetlands and floodplain. The research demonstrated that natural flooding in 2010-11 facilitated important ecological processes including increased primary production, improved lateral and longitudinal connectivity, lateral bank recharge, re-structuring of aquatic plant communities, plant recruitment and fish spawning, recruitment and movement, leading to increased abundances, improved condition and recovery of key communities after drought.

The research outcomes highlight that flooding, as an integral part of the natural flow regime, is important in maintaining the ecological integrity of floodplain rivers. The knowledge developed will inform environmental water planning and flow management to maximise ecological outcomes in the lower River Murray.

Project Impacts

The initiation of this project was driven by the need of flow related ecology to inform the policy and management of environmental water in the South Australian River Murray, and the unique opportunity of the 2010-11 flood event (soon after the establishment of the Goyder Institute) to investigate how the ecosystem response/recovery in the lower River Murray after a long period of drought. There were numerous discussion and consultations with DEWNR staff and other state agencies (e.g. SAMDB NRMB, PIRSA) at the establishment of this project and a project Stakeholders Committee was also established to ensure their ongoing engagement throughout the project to assist with the information exchange, communication and knowledge adoption in policy making, management and river operations to maximise the ecological outcomes for the lower Murray. A broader stakeholder workshop was held at the completion of the MFE research tasks to disseminate research outcomes and discuss about how the knowledge developed could be used to underpin river management and environmental water use. The project results have been taken up by State agencies particularly DEWNR in environmental water planning and management; riverine restoration/rehabilitation under the Riverine Recovery Project. Some of the knowledge developed through the MFE has informed the ecological evaluation of the Basin Plan.

 

In addition to the targeted stakeholder workshop, the project outcomes have been presented in numerous conference/forum and public seminars. Further, the key scientists from the MFE team have continued to work closely with state agencies (DEWNR, SAMDB NRMB, EPA, SA Water and PIRSA) and commonwealth agencies (MDBA, CEWO) to support them with best science to underpin environmental watering strategy and river management.  

Research Outputs

Ecological Responses to Flooding in the Lower River Murray Following an Extended Drought : Synthesis Report of the Murray Flood Ecology Project

The Response Patterns of Wetland Fish Communities Following Prolonged Drought and Widespread Flooding

Floodplain influences on metabolic activity in the South Australian section of the Murray River during the 2010/11 flood

Resilience and resistance of aquatic plant communities downstream of Lock 1 in the Murray River

Conceptual modelling of the ecological responses from a flood event in the Lower River Murray

Floodplain response and recovery: comparison between natural and artificial floods

From Drought to Flood: Annual variation in larval fish assemblages in a heavily regulated lowland river

Changes in water quality and phytoplankton communities in the Lower River Murray in response to a low flow-high flow sequence

Lower River Murray Flood Response Model

Project News