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Response of wetland plant communities to inundation within floodplain landscapes

journal contribution
posted on 2023-04-03, 16:59 authored by Patricia Alexander, Daryl L Nielsen, Deborah Nias
Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre

MDFRC item.

Many floodplain wetlands in south-eastern Australia have become isolated from the main river channel as a consequence of reduced high flows and associated flood events following river regulation. In the Central Murray region of south-eastern Australia, many temporary wetlands would have received water once every five years or so, with large floods maintaining floodplain connectivity every decade, under natural conditions. Now, the River Murray is highly regulated and many of these wetland areas have not been flooded for periods of up to 30 years. Consequently, these wetlands are becoming degraded and the biodiversity of the area is in decline. From 2001–2003, 21 Black Box depression wetlands in the Central Murray region were each watered once. Plant communities in each wetland were monitored for changes in abundance (assessed as percentage cover) before and during the wetting and drying phases. Wetlands were watered during spring or early summer with the length of inundation ranging from 6 to 19 weeks. After watering, the percentage cover of native plant taxa and native plant functional groups in most wetlands increased. In general, there was a decrease in the percentage number of terrestrial plants present and an increase in the percentage cover of aquatic plants. Introduced species were a minor component. Although these wetlands are all located in the Central Murray region, individual wetlands developed plant communities that contained taxa specific to individual wetlands despite initial similarities. These results indicate that wetland plant biodiversity within the landscape can be promoted and maintained by ensuring there is a diversity of wetlands with varying flood regimes within the landscape.


Publication Date



Ecological management & restoration.








Australia: Ecological Society of Australia.

Data source

arrow migration 2023-03-15 20:45. Ref: f1b71f. IDs:['', 'latrobe:20797']

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