Limnology in Australia

Volume 61 of the series Monographiae Biologicae pp 487-496

What Happened to the Australian Aquatic Biota 18 000 years Ago?

  • P. De DeckkerAffiliated withDepartment of Biogeography and Geomorphology, Research School of Pacific Studies , Australian National University

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There is now ample evidence that hydrological conditions in lakes, rivers and the groundwater in south-eastern Australia have varied continuously during the last 50 000 years. The most dramatic event culminated around 18 000 years ago when most lakes dried. During this arid phase, much of the aquatic biota probably survived in lakes located near the coast. These lakes were subsequently inundated by a relatively rapid rise in sea level. The biota survived this phenomenon because it had good dispersal mechanisms. Some organisms of the arid phase also survived in a few inland bodies of water (notably in mound springs). It is important that limnologists and water managers remember that the key to full understanding of the present nature of Australia’s aquatic environment is knowledge of past events.