10 November 2021
Part of the West Kimberley National Heritage Place, the mighty Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) in Western Australia sustains rich biodiversity, ecosystems and human cultures.
This Northern Australia Hub research project was led by researchers at The University of Western Australia and Griffith University and aimed to determine the environmental water needs of key plants and animals of the Fitzroy – vital information needed to inform water planning for this river that has previously been identified as suitable for water-resource development to support the expansion of irrigated agriculture.
Hub researchers Leah Beesley, Chris Keogh and PhD Student Thiaggo de Castro Tayer sampling fish and algae in collaboration with Yimardoo Warra Rangers Jeremiah Green and Shaquille Millindee. Photo: Michael Douglas.
Conducted in partnership with Traditional Owners and Indigenous rangers, this research has increased our knowledge of riparian vegetation, fish and cherabin, the aquatic food web, water chemistry of pools and hydrological connectivity. For example, modelling various water-take scenarios combined with mapping where riparian trees occurred and new knowledge of how they use water showed the areas and tree species most vulnerable to water extraction.
Conceptual models were also developed which can be used to guide management decision-making and policy development for the mighty Martuwarra.
The initial hydro-socio-ecological conceptual model of the impacts of water abstraction in the Fitzroy River. The model is centred on four flow phases and the potential impacts of abstraction during each flow phase. Small inner circles describe impacts on hydrology and physical habitats, large outer circles describe impacts on habitat availability and quality, and water-dependent biota and ecological processes. Impacts of particular interest to Indigenous people are in bold type. The quotes illustrate Indigenous perspectives on hydro-socio-ecological relationships. The outer circle encompasses the key social factors and conditions that affect water allocation planning. Taken from Douglas et al. (2019). A pdf of the conceptual diagram is available by clicking here.
The revised conceptual model using only research undertaken in the Fitzroy River. Black text = evidence from this project, published; black text italicised = evidence from this project, unpublished. Grey text = evidence from other sources, published. The updated conceptual model can be found as a pdf here.
A representation of the zonation of riparian woody plants discussed in this factsheet, including photographs representative of each zone.
Defining metrics of success for feral animal management in northern Australia There are an estimated 24 million feral pigs in […]
Indigenous rangers are essential in managing the vast cultural and natural resources of northern Australia. Indigenous cultural and natural resource […]
Ranger uranium mine is surrounded by Kakadu National Park. The mine has ceased operations and rehabilitation works are due to […]
Our Northern Hub Newsletter highlights what's going on in our research projects across northern Australia. It includes latest findings, what's coming up and what this all means for sustainable development and land and water management in the region.
Want to know more about Hub activities and the development of northern Australia? Stay informed of activities, research, publications, events and more through the Hub Newsletter.