The Murray-Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research (MDB EWKR) Project was a five-year project coordinated by the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems at La Trobe University, undertaken in collaboration with scientists from a range of research organisations and jurisdictional agencies, to improve the science available to support environmental water management in the Murray-Darling Basin. The work is being continued through the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Program.
Projects like EWKR have value beyond the performance of research projects as they provide a unique opportunity for the formation of collaborations, networks and research directions between water managers, research organisations and government agencies in the Murray Darling Basin.
Some key findings include:
- Floodplain inundation is crucial to provide the highest quality resources for riverine foodwebs
- Processes within the Basin operate at a myriad of scales so managing a river for recruitment or dispersal, for example requires information at each scale (i.e. site, catchment, basin)
- Connectivity of rivers, habitats and catchments is needed to ensure the movement of organisms and resources across the Basin
- Improvements in habitat quality can be influenced by flow management and resource management e.g. by providing flows that promote fish movement or improve the structural complexity within rivers
- There is no one correct way to manage the Basin. The ‘boom and bust’ variability of unregulated Australian rivers needs to be mimicked to provide the maximum opportunity for all life history strategies
Stories about the learnings and adaptive management can be found on the EWKR Story Space.
The Synthesis Report presents the technical research findings, methods, decision support tools and recommendations for improved approaches for further research. The report integrates research findings under the four research Themes – Fish, Food Webs, Vegetation and Waterbirds.
The research theme reports outline the priority research undertaken to address the key knowledge gaps. Each theme report synthesizes findings, key considerations for water managers and highlights what remains to be learned to better inform environmental water management.
Research questions and sites:
The selection of priority research question and sites is outlined in the report MDB EWKR: Selection of priority research questions and sites.
Originally it was intended that research would be conducted at four sites across the Murray-Darling Basin; Mid-Murray, Lower Murray, Macquarie Marshes and the Lower Balonne. However, as the project evolved it became clear that not limiting research to certain areas would provide better knowledge and coverage across the Basin. Research was undertaken at each of the four priority sites, but other sites were also included as the research evolved. A summary of the sites and research undertaken at each of the sites can be found in Appendix 1 – Research Site Report of the Synthesis Report.
The Multi-year Research Plan outlines the research activities undertaken to address the priority research questions. The Multi-year Research Plan was updated annually and supported by a more detailed Annual Research Plan.
- Murray–Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project: Annual Research Plan 2016-17
- Murray–Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project: Annual Research Plan 2017-18
- Murray–Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project: Annual Research Plan 2018-19
- Murray–Darling Basin Environmental Water Knowledge and Research Project: Multi-Year Research Plan and Addendum