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Understanding thresholds in the transition from saline to hypersaline aquatic ecosystems: south-west Western Australia

Sim, L., Davis, J., Chambers, J. and Strehlow, K. (2007) Understanding thresholds in the transition from saline to hypersaline aquatic ecosystems: south-west Western Australia. In: Salt, Nutrient, Sediment and Interactions: Findings from the National River Contaminants Program. Land and Water Australia, Canberra, Australia, pp. 29-40.

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Abstract

Large areas of the Australian continent are currently affected by secondary (anthropogenic) salinisation. In some parts of Western Australia, particularly the ‘wheatbelt’ region which lies between the 600 and 350 mm rainfall isohyets, salinisation, primarily as a result of land clearing and the associated rise in saline watertables, has been occurring for over a century (Hatton et al. 2003, Figure 1). As a consequence, very few freshwater systems remain in this region, and in order to manage the changing landscape, a key question facing natural resource managers is which physicochemical or ecological thresholds have most importance in the change from saline to hypersaline conditions? Knowing this will allow these systems to be managed so that further losses of ecological function and biodiversity can be prevented.

This chapter considers the broad ecosystem changes that occur when salinity rises in waterbodies with salinities ranging from hyposaline to hypersaline (see Box 1).The research question explored in this chapter is ‘do well-defined thresholds exist that signal a change in ecosystem structure and function when moving from saline to hypersaline ecosystems?’

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
Publisher: Land and Water Australia
Copyright: © Land & Water Australia
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/14218
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