Changes in organic-matter dynamics and physicochemistry, associated with riparian vegetation loss and river regulation in floodplain wetlands of the Murray River, Australia

Watkins, Susanne C., Quinn, G. P. and Gawne, Ben 2010, Changes in organic-matter dynamics and physicochemistry, associated with riparian vegetation loss and river regulation in floodplain wetlands of the Murray River, Australia, Marine and freshwater research, vol. 61, no. 10, pp. 1207-1217.

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Title Changes in organic-matter dynamics and physicochemistry, associated with riparian vegetation loss and river regulation in floodplain wetlands of the Murray River, Australia
Author(s) Watkins, Susanne C.
Quinn, G. P.
Gawne, Ben
Journal name Marine and freshwater research
Volume number 61
Issue number 10
Start page 1207
End page 1217
Total pages 11
Publisher C S I R O Publishing
Place of publication Collingwood, Vic.
Publication date 2010-10-14
ISSN 1323-1650
1448-6059
Summary Extensive clearing of floodplain forests potentially reduces organic matter available to floodplain wetlands. Furthermore, on rivers regulated to provide irrigation water in summer, floodplain wetlands that were previously inundated in spring, now flood in summer/autumn. In the Murray–Darling Basin, Australia, this has changed the timing of organic matter entering the aquatic phase, since leaf fall peaks in summer. Field surveys and mesocosm experiments on floodplain wetlands on the River Murray revealed faster processing rates of leaves in summer/autumn than spring, and no difference between cleared and forested wetlands. Temperature and leaf carbon : nitrogen ratio could not explain these differences, and instead, changes to leaf chemistry associated with ‘terrestrial ageing’ between peak leaf fall in summer and inundation in spring is more likely. The results indicated that the reduction of input of organic matter through riparian tree clearing and changing the timing of inundation interact to alter organic-matter standing stocks and rates of decomposition in floodplain wetlands. Restoring both natural timing of high flows and riparian vegetation might be required for recovery of these wetlands.

Language eng
Field of Research 060204 Freshwater Ecology
Socio Economic Objective 960506 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Environments
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
HERDC collection year 2010
Copyright notice ©CSIRO 2010
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30034583

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