Development of a vegetation dynamics model for freshwater wetland assessment in the Macquarie Marshes

Steven Sandi, Jose Rodriguez, Patricia Saco, Neil Saintilan, Li Wen, George Kuczera

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The configuration of the Macquarie Marshes is a mosaic-like collection of swamps, marshes and lagoons. The Macquarie Marshes is also one of the most ecologically important wetland systems in Australia. It contains unique plant communities that serve as a sanctuary for many species of waterbirds and other fauna such as frogs and mammals. A significant deterioration of the ecological features of the Macquarie Marshes has been recorded in the past decades. This fact is mostly attributed to reductions of the input discharges to the marshes due to water allocations for industrial, agricultural and domestic usage. Reduction of water supply translates into changes of the hydraulic regime which has a direct impact on the flood dependent vegetation species of the marshes. The complexity of the system and its ecological significance requires the use of an adequate computational tool that would allow for a realistic assessment of the site. In this paper we present initial work regarding the development of a vegetation dynamics model that can integrate vegetation establishment with time aggregated characteristics of the flow. We simulate floods on a fictional wetland by implementing a quasi-2D hydrodynamic model (VHHMM 1.0) over a rectangular cell grid. This same grid constitutes the basis for a cellular vegetation model that can calculate changes in the vegetation for each element inside the domain. The work presented here for a fictional site was developed in order to test the capability of our model to recreate consistent vegetation gradients by using deterministic transitional rules. These rules relate time aggregated characteristics of the flow such as flood period and depth of water to water requirements of different vegetation communities. We found that a well calibrated set of deterministic transitional rules based on water preferences can recreate consistent vegetation distributions; however, succession and critical conditions for succession rules will have to be defined for a specific site application. Further development of this model will result in a strategic tool for managing environmental water allocations and water sharing plans in the Macquarie Marshes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication36th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, HWRS 2015
Subtitle of host publicationThe Art and Science of Water
Place of PublicationBarton, ACT
PublisherEngineers Australia
Pages948-955
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781922107497
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event36th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium: The Art and Science of Water, HWRS 2015 - Hobart, Australia
Duration: 7 Dec 201510 Dec 2015

Other

Other36th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium: The Art and Science of Water, HWRS 2015
CountryAustralia
CityHobart
Period7/12/1510/12/15

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Sandi, S., Rodriguez, J., Saco, P., Saintilan, N., Wen, L., & Kuczera, G. (2015). Development of a vegetation dynamics model for freshwater wetland assessment in the Macquarie Marshes. In 36th Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, HWRS 2015: The Art and Science of Water (pp. 948-955). Barton, ACT: Engineers Australia.