Lotterywest Funding -

Published: Friday, 20 April 2018 at 4:38:41 PM

The EMRC has been granted funding of $92,926 from Lotterywest to coordinate a research project with Murdoch University. The project partnership will see Murdoch University undertake research to determine what native freshwater biodiversity is supported by farm dams and identify the characteristics of farm dams (including physical factors and water quality) associated with higher native biodiversity. The project will include training landholders as citizen scientists and increase the capacity of all landholders with farm dams to manage them to sustain native biodiversity through web-based knowledge dissemination.

 

The climate of the south-west region of WA is drying rapidly. Already many wetlands and streams no longer contain water at any time. Many freshwater plants and animals rely on perennial water, yet that is becoming scarce in our landscape. In the Perth Hills, most streams that are not in water catchments have been dammed for farm water supply. These small dams may provide perennial water in a landscape where perennial water is otherwise scarce.

 

This project is vital to prevent loss of biodiversity from freshwaters (streams and wetlands), in the Perth Hills. The project is also relevant to agricultural areas across the South-West Region and across southern Australia. This is because our drying climate is having particularly serious effects on freshwaters: they are now dry for much longer periods than in the past. This has increased the risk of extinction for fish, frogs (whose tadpoles depend on freshwater) and freshwater invertebrates (such as dragonflies).

 

Invertebrates comprise the largest portion of freshwater biodiversity and are vital because they supply food for larger animals (waterbirds, fish and frogs). Furthermore, most freshwater species found in the southwest of WA are not found anywhere else in the world.

 

As the climate continues to dry, the only freshwater that is reliably present in agricultural landscapes such as the Perth Hills in summer and autumn is in farm dams. At present, we know little about the biodiversity supported by farm dams and this project will create new knowledge.  We also need to engage and educate landholders so that they can manage their farm dams to help sustain native biodiversity.

 

This project will sample two types of farm dams for biodiversity; use a mapping tool to manage this data; and hold project workshops to communicate information between the community, researchers and the EMRC.

 

Project workshops will be hosted by the EMRC, with input from Murdoch University researchers to provide participating landholders training in citizen-science data collection; identifying waterbirds and frog calls. A further workshop will be hosted at the end of the project where Murdoch will present the project results.

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