Riverine Landscapes Research Group

Research

Our group, located in the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems, has expertise in spanning hydrology, spatial modelling, GIS, ecology, ecosystem science, molecular and genetic techniques and has strong links to industry and research partners in Australia and worldwide.

We study interactions between the physical environment, (climate, hydrology, fire and land-use), and how these affect ecological patterns and processes across the landscape, including species distributions, population dynamics, connectivity and food-webs.

Movement and migration

The effects of climate-variability and change on species distributions Australia has extreme patterns of interannual climate variability and frequent drought.

We use field and modelling approaches to relate aquatic ecosystems species distribution to water stress, hydrology, fire, climate change and other physiographic variables.

Our predictions of potential future shifts in species range, abundance and occupancy are combined with conservation planning models to prioritise areas for protection and targeted management interventions.

We work with Melbourne Water and the University of Melbourne to develop the Habitat Suitability Models for stream and wetland fauna around Melbourne, and we are monitoring the 2020 bushfires impacts on the nationally endangered Alpine Stonefly (Thaumatoperla alpina).

Ecohydrology of intermittent stream networks

Up to 80% of river networks worldwide experience regular periods without surface flow.

Dry period water habitats can contract to isolated waterholes along river channels which become critical refuges for aquatic biota.

In human modified landscapes, sedimentation, groundwater extraction and runoff catchment interception cause declines in refuge quality and quantity.

We study surface-groundwater interactions and food-web structure within individual waterholes, as well as, catchment hydrology roles roles determining waterhole persistence and metapopulation structure and dynamics

Aquatic biodiversity conservation and management

Freshwater ecosystems account for around 10% of global biodiversity, but are declining at a rate far exceeding terrestrial or marine ecosystems.

We study the ecology and fundamental biology of aquatic biota, including threatened species and other significant species of management interest (e.g. fishing target species); with the goal of improving management decisions and actions for these species.

Our research includes evaluating and improving conservation strategies for threatened species, threatened species detection and distribution, and assessment of population viability through modelling.

We are currently compiling genetic databases of freshwater invertebrates to map species distribution and use DNA metabarcoding to assess biodiversity and inform conservation measures.

Aquatic ecosystem processes and food-web ecology

Our research explores how ecosystem processes (such as nutrient cycling, decomposition) and food-webs (ecosystem energy and matter flows) are influenced by human induced threats.

We study how environmental change (such as altered river flows) affects connectivity, ecological processes and the trophic structure of aquatic food-webs.

Our research, under field and laboratory conditions, often includes experimental manipulation in many aquatic ecosystem types.

Theme Members

Assoc Prof David Crook
Assoc Prof Alison King
Dr Luke McPhan
Dr Nicole Thurgate
Dr Michael Shackleton
Dr Andre Siebers
Dr Julia Mynott