Issue: Habitat scale influences - Wetlands
This is an issue under the Inland waters theme of the Data Reporting System.
Wetlands have an important function in Australia's environment and often support high levels of biodiversity. They are breeding grounds and nurseries for many animals including fish, frogs, birds and invertebrates; they contribute to the condition of water quality by removing nutrients and sediments and recycling chemical and organic matter; wetlands can mitigate floods, slowing and storing flows. Wetlands are also used for recreational activities, and can be utilised for grazing, cropping and urban development.
Since European settlement, the condition and extent of many wetlands have decreased substantially. Inland waters in the eastern states, north-east coast and south-west Australia, are under considerable pressure from water extraction and catchment activities. Northern inland waters are generally healthier as they and their catchments are less developed, although there is likely to be increased pressure on them in the future.
- IW-27 Extent of significant wetlands (incl. Ramsar)
Although extent of wetlands is to some extent seasonal, long term trends in extent of wetlands is a surrogate indicator for condition of wetlands.
- IW-33 Abundance and distribution of waterbirds
The distribution and abundance of waterbirds is closely connected to the occurrence of floods and wetland inundation during wet years. Severe reductions in wetland extent in Australia have reduced the available habitat as well as the numbers and breeding success of native waterbirds. The abundance and distribution of species is indicative of the condition of individual species, of water bird species collectively, and of the condition of wetland ecosystems more broadly.
- IW-34 Examples of deterioration of condition of wetland vegetation
Assessment of the condition of wetland vegetation is an important tool for monitoring wetland health. The dominance of particular species of vegetation may provide an indication of hydrological or water quality changes that have taken place (e.g. without semi-regular flooding, river red gums may decline; or, the dominance by Typha, an emergent wetland bulrush, tends to indicate disturbance in the surrounding landscape). In the absence of data on the condition of all Australian wetlands, particular wetlands where condition has been assessed may provide insights into wetland condition more broadly.
- CO-46 Comparative water quality of coastal lakes and lagoons (water quality gradient from north to south)
Comparative water quality of coastal lakes and lagoons, especially along the gradient from north to south, is indicative of the cumulative pressure of human activities on these systems including wetlands.
- IW-48 Ramsar wetlands with implemented management plans
The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971(more commonly known as the Ramsar Convention) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation and "wise use" of wetlands. The Convention encourages the designation of sites containing representative, rare or unique wetland types, or that are important for conserving biological diversity. Effective management responses under Ramsar should result in a reduction of pressures currently impacting on wetlands.
- BD-14 Examples of impacts of changed hydrology on biodiversity
Development in many areas has resulted in reduced overland and groundwater flow to wetlands, causing dry conditions. In the absence of comprehensive data on the impacts of changes in hydrology on wetland biodiversity, some examples of impacts of changed hydrology on wetlands affected are provided.
- Inland Waters - Response of biota- Frogs
- Inland Waters - Response of biota- Waterbirds
- Inland Waters - Habitat scale influences- In-stream habitat - woody debris and sand slugs
- Inland Waters - Catchment scale influences- Hydrological condition- Ecological aspects of river flow regimes
- Inland Waters - Habitat scale influences- Riparian vegetation
- Inland Waters - Habitat scale influences- Wetlands
- Inland Waters - Human response - policy and management- Habitat management (including wetland management)
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities- Condition of freshwater biodiversity
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities- Condition of wetlands and riparian vegetation
- Inland Waters - Response of biota- Wetland and floodplain communities