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Multiple lines of evidence for the beneficial effects of environmental flows in two lowland rivers in Victoria, Australia

Lind, P. R., Robson, Belinda and Mitchell, Brad 2007, Multiple lines of evidence for the beneficial effects of environmental flows in two lowland rivers in Victoria, Australia, River research and applications, vol. 23, pp. 933-946, doi: 10.1002/rra.1016.

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Title Multiple lines of evidence for the beneficial effects of environmental flows in two lowland rivers in Victoria, Australia
Author(s) Lind, P. R.
Robson, Belinda
Mitchell, Brad
Journal name River research and applications
Volume number 23
Start page 933
End page 946
Publisher John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
Place of publication Chichester, England
Publication date 2007
ISSN 1535-1459
1535-1467
Keyword(s) macroinvertebrates
environmental flows
environmental water allocation
salinization
river regulation
Summary The aim of this study was to identify whether environmental flows released into two lowland rivers (the Glenelg and Wimmera Rivers, western Victoria, Australia) during the spring to autumn period had successfully ameliorated the negative effects of multiple human impacts. Macroinvertebrates and a range of physico-chemical variables were sampled from three reaches in each river. Both rivers were sampled during three environmental release seasons with average-sized releases (1997-1998, 1998-1999 and 2001-2002) and two drought seasons with limited releases (1999-2000 and 2000-2001). The effects of releasing average-sized environmental flows on macroinvertebrates and physico-chemical variables were assessed by comparison with data from the two drought seasons. For the Glenelg River, data from a reference season prior to the release of environmental flows (1995-1996) was also compared to data from the five environmental flow seasons. Multivariate analyses revealed four pieces of evidence indicating that the release of environmental flows effectively slowed the process of environmental degradation in the Glenelg River but not in the Wimmera River: (1) the magnitude of the river discharge was dependent on the size of environmental flow releases; (2) in the Wimmera River, water quality deteriorated markedly during the two drought seasons and correlated strongly with macroinvertebrate assemblage structure, but this was not observed in the Glenelg River; (3) the taxonomic composition of the macroinvertebrate assemblages among contrasting flow release seasons reflected the severe deterioration in water quality of the Wimmera River; (4) despite two drought seasons with minimal environmental flow releases, the macroinvertebrate assemblage in the Glenelg River did not differ from the average-release seasons, nor did it return to a pre-environmental flows condition. Therefore, it appears that environmental flow releases did sustain the macroinvertebrate assemblage and maintain reasonable water quality in the Glenelg River. However, in the Wimmera River, release volumes were too small to maintain low salinities and were associated with marked changes in the macroinvertebrate assemblage. Therefore, there are multiple lines of evidence that environmental flow releases of sufficient magnitude may slow the process of degradation in a regulated lowland river.
Language eng
DOI 10.1002/rra.1016
Field of Research 060204 Freshwater Ecology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2007, John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30007538

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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