, Volume 125, Issue 1, pp 111-129

A review of the ecological effects of river regulation in Australia

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Abstract

Responses to hydrologic change are an important theme in lotic ecology, and data for Australian rivers are accumulating in a rapid, butad hoc manner. Thia paper arranges recent contributions according to the major drainage divisions, which provide reasonably coherent environmental units. The east coastal rivers are exploited for storage, power generation and waste disposal, and Tasmanian rivers are regulated to serve hydro-electric power schemes. Most information refers to the Murray-Darling river system, which supplies irrigated agriculture in semi-arid inland areas of S.E. Australia, and is intensively regulated by dams, weirs and barrages. The Murray's flows are over-committed, if variability is taken into account, and there are environmental problems (e.g. erosion and salinity) associated with irrigation. The effects of regulation are seen also in the changed distributions of plants and animals associated with the Murray and its floodplain. In Australia the national effort is uncoordinated because research and management are developing independently of one another. Ecologists must become involved in the planning and implementation of strategies that are consistent, as far as possible, with offstream and instream needs.