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An evaluation of ecological information on Australia’s northern tropical rivers and wetlands

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Abstract

The northern tropical river and wetland systems of Australia cover a vast and mostly remote area. Comparably little is known of wetland type, species diversity, ecological processes and ecosystem services. Systematic inventory and classification is lacking and research remains disparate in purpose and coverage. An integrated framework is used to evaluate results from three multidisciplinary studies across various scales to synthesise available knowledge relating to key ecological attributes across both the study region and within focus areas. The utility of geomorphic and hydrological classification at coarse scales is supported but the unavailability of biological data at corresponding and finer spatial and temporal scales constrains the potential for ecological inventory and classification utilising existing information. Future inventory and ecological studies across this and similar vast study areas need to consider the apriori development of a user-driven data framework and the development of specific investigatory tools to overcome technical and other barriers associated with the requirements of multi-scalar ecological studies.

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Acknowledgments

This paper was based on information collected mainly through three projects: The TRIAP funded by the Natural Heritage Trust Phase 2 (NHT2) and Land & Water Australia (LWA); the Northern Australian component of the Regional Review of Wetlands Management Issues funded by the National Wetlands R&D Program; and the SGEIP funded by the (then) Queensland Department of State Development. The views and opinions expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect those of the authors. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that the contents of this report are factually correct readers should exercise their own skill and judgment with respect to their use of the material contained in this report and refer where necessary to the underlying information sources. The information contained in the report has largely been derived from published information sources, although not all of this had been peer reviewed. The bulk of the information has been collated in more detail in separate reports that are available on the web. The many researchers and authors of the underlying reports are thanked for their efforts and contributions to the wider knowledge base that enabled the integration of the extensive data resources available. It is recognised that the task of integrating the material would not have been possible without the extensive experience and familiarity with northern Australia’s wetland and riverine landscapes gained through being employed and working in northern Australia over many years, and also through personal travel and interaction with local residents.

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Lukacs, G.P., Finlayson, C.M. An evaluation of ecological information on Australia’s northern tropical rivers and wetlands. Wetlands Ecol Manage 18, 597–625 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-010-9197-8

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