Our hydrological research focuses on the interactions between river flow and aquatic ecology; providing critical knowledge required for the management and sustainable use of surface and groundwater water resources. Our team specialises in quantifying the effects of high wet season (flood) and low dry season river flows on aquatic ecosystems, and detecting surface-groundwater interactions using remote sensing. We also have expertise in rainforest hydrology, with an emphasis on understanding how the canopy water balance controls ecological conditions and the potential impacts of climate change.
Climate and development impacts on riverine fish refugia in northern Australia
Most rivers in northern Australia are ephemeral and they break up into a series of in-stream waterholes during the long dry season (Figure 1). These waterholes provide vital refugia for fish and other aquatic species. Our research investigates how the suitability of these habitats evolves as the dry season progresses and from the process models developed predicts the potential impacts of climate change and irrigation development.
Hydrodynamic modelling of wetland connectivity on floodplains
The connectivity of floodplain wetlands is a key factor in their ecological condition and is a vital part of the life cycle of many fish species. In collaboration with CSIRO we have developed a unique application of hydro-dynamic modelling that quantifies the timing and duration of wetland connectivity during floods (Figure 2). The results of this model are being correlated with fish diversity and abundance so that predictions of how changes climate and/or floodplain management can be made.
Hydro-ecological interactions in Australia’s tropical Rainforest
These World Heritage listed rainforests contain unique plants and animals that are a product of the climate in which they evolved. Our research builds on the foundational rainforest hydrology studies carried out by CSIRO by exploring how the rainforest canopy water balance might affect the occurrence of epiphytes and other canopy species (Figure 3). We also model how future changes in climate could affect rainforest hydrology and the in situ and downstream biota that depend on it.