The continuous provision of ecological services by wetlands is largely dependent on the stability of ecosystem functions such as biomass production. Biomass production is in turn strongly impacted by the frequency, duration, and intensity of climate extremes such as droughts and floods. This is particularly true for the floodplain wetlands in the Murray–Darling basin, Australia, which exhibits high interannual and interdecal climatic variability. In this study, we evaluated the ecological resistance and resilience to water deficit anomalies in terms of biomass production for the major woody floodplain vegetation community types (VCT) in the semiarid northern-west of New South Wales including River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) forest, Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens), Coolibah (Eucalyptus coolabah) woodlands, and Lignum (Duma florulenta) shrublands. Our hypothesis is that different VCTs have different trends of biomass production over time by virtue of their landscape position. Landscape position was defined by the weighted distance to water courses (DIST) and local deviation of elevation from global mean. Biomass production stability in response to water deficit anomalies was modelled using time series (2000–2016) of the normalized difference vegetation index and hydrological and meteorological drought indices. We found that (a) River Red Gum forest exhibits higher resistance and resilience than other VCTs, (b) vegetation located closer to water courses has significantly higher resilience, (c) the resistance to drought indices is not significantly different across landscape positions, and (d) distance to water course is more important than topography in terms of effects on ecological resistance and resilience.
- biomass production
- ecosystem resilience and resistance
- Murray–Darling basin
- vegetation community type