Western Australia’s mighty Fitzroy River has high environmental, economic and cultural significance and there is increasing interest in developing its substantial water resources for irrigated agriculture.
Important environmental values, such as the iconic barramundi, are likely to be impacted if the river’s natural flows or groundwater levels are altered. To minimise risks to these natural values, we need to understand how they may respond to potential water resources development.
This project is working in collaboration with the Australian and Western Australian Governments, Traditional Owners and pastoralists to improve the available information on the water needs of key natural values in the Fitzroy River. This knowledge will underpin future water allocation and planning decisions.
The primary aim of this project is to improve our understanding of the environmental water needs of key plant and animal species in the Fitzroy River to inform sustainable water planning and management decisions.
The project includes three major components:
Project update February 2019.
The project is focused on the Fitzroy River catchment in Western Australia. Most activity is occurring downstream of Fitzroy Crossing.
Canham, C.A., Duvert, C., Beesley, L.S., Douglas, M.M., Setterfield, S.A., Freestone, F.L., Clohessy, S. and Loomes, R.C. (2021), The use of regional and alluvial groundwater by riparian trees in the wet‐dry tropics of northern Australia.. Hydrological Processes. Accepted Author Manuscript. https://doi.org/10.1002/hyp.14180
Beesley, LS, Pusey, BJ, Douglas, MM, Keogh, CS, Kennard, MJ, Canham, CA, Close, PG, Dobbs, RJ, & Setterfield SA. When and where are catfish fat fish? Hydro‐ecological determinants of energy reserves in the fork‐tailed catfish, Neoarius graeffei, in an intermittent tropical river. Freshwater Biology. 2021; 00: 1– 14. https://doi.org/10.1111/fwb.13711
Beesley, L.S., Pusey, B.J., Douglas, M.M. et al. New insights into the food web of an Australian tropical river to inform water resource management. Sci Rep 10, 14294 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71331-0
Burrows, R.M., Beesley, L., Douglas, M.M. et al. 2020. Water velocity and groundwater upwelling influence benthic algal biomass in a sandy tropical river: implications for water-resource development. Hydrobiologia doi:10.1007/s10750-020-04176-3
Douglas, M.M., Jackson, S., Canham, C.A., Laborde, S., Beesley, L., Kennard, M.J., Pusey, B.J., Loomes, R. & Setterfield, S.A. (2019). Conceptualizing Hydro-socio-ecological Relationships to Enable More Integrated and Inclusive Water Allocation Planning, One Earth, Volume 1, Issue 3, 361-373, ISSN 2590-3322. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.oneear.2019.10.021.
David Crook discusses how otolith chemistry can help explain and document fish life history.
The project is being led by Professor Michael Douglas from The University of Western Australia (UWA). Professor Douglas is being assisted by researchers from UWA, Charles Darwin University, Griffith University and the Western Australia Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
Gooniyandi Aboriginal Corporation PBC, Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation PBC, Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation and Yi-Martuwarra/Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation PBC are collaborators in this research.
This project is due for completion in June 2021.
Professor Michael Douglas, UWA