Skip links and keyboard navigation

Riverine conceptual models—Background

The riverine systems of Queensland were 'regionalised' using a biota approach.  This resulted in nine Freshwater Biogeographic Provinces (FBPs) with more homogenous biota than the whole State. The approach used macroinvertebrate and freshwater fish data to group similar catchments[1].

The resulting provinces provided a practical separation of the state into similar ecosystem types for use as reporting regions and have been applied as the basis for implementation of the long-term design of the Stream and Estuarine Assessment Program. These FBPs were used as the basis for the construction of both the riverine wetlands (aquatic ecosystem) conceptual models

Natural ecosystem drivers Diagram by Water Planning Ecology Group, DSITIA

Quick facts

Riverine
Conceptual Models are a starting point towards an increased understanding and knowledge, rather than a 'final word' on how Queensland’s freshwater ecosystems function and respond to natural and anthropogenically induced disturbances. It is an evolving tool that will progressively change as more data and knowledge is incorporated.

Introduction

There are two broad approaches to regionalisation. The first uses patterns of landscape drivers influencing aquatic ecosystems (e.g. stream flow, temperature, soil type) to define areas where systems would be expected to be similar. The second approach uses geographic patterns in ecosystem biota (e.g. fauna such as macroinvertebrates and fish) to regionalise large areas and has been successfully implemented in Victoria, Australia[2][3].

The riverine conceptual models presented in this section deal solely with naturally occurring processes and do not focus on anthropogenic (human) impacts. The major natural processes which drive the physical (e.g. flow regimes, temperature, habitat availability) and chemical (e.g. pH, Nutrient concentrations) composition of the river systems and consequently determine the biota of the province. The major subgroups are: Climate, Geology and Topography, Habitat, Hydrology, and Water Quality (see diagram).

This is a bottom-up classification that assumes local biota reflect the biophysical properties of a region. These conceptual models focus on natural ecosystems and the physical processes driving them.

Riverine conceptual models

The riverine conceptual models are aimed at assisting water management decision making by demonstrating our conceptual understanding of Queensland’s freshwater riverine ecosystems. It provides a useful spatial framework within which to assess ecological data and information required for natural resource management. The specific objectives of the riverine conceptual models are to identify the:

  • key freshwater aquatic systems represented in the state
  • key ecological issues and key stressors
  • linkages between the key stressors (drivers) and each ecological consequence (conceptual model or quantitative ecological model) and from this provide information on which drivers are most sensitive to management or controls.

Queensland's freshwater ecosystems are highly variable and subject to diverse and system-unique natural and anthropogenic processes. Consequently, the conceptual frameworks presented here are broadscale and ecosystem-based and ultimately will contain issue-oriented information, thereby recognising that environmental processes and human activities operate at various temporal and spatial scales. The issue-based emphasis acknowledges both natural and human-induced influences/threats to aquatic ecosystems and the responses to those disturbances.

AECM (Aquatic Ecosystem Conceptual Models—now referred to as Riverine Conceptual Models) V 1.0 focuses on the natural or 'pre-development' condition of Queensland’s freshwater ecosystems. The provincial bioregionalisation of Queensland's riverine ecosystems used provides a robust framework for assessing and reporting on a wide range of natural resource-related activities including planning, management, monitoring and research. Future versions will consider the influence of flow modification and other anthropogenic stressors.

The Riverine Models are a descriptive, not a quantitative/numerical tool, although it may ultimately incorporate numerical models to address specific processes.

Regional Summary

The following table provides a summary of regional variation in ecological processes and how they are linked to physical processes.  Refer to the text in the relevant section for more detail about the system. 

Process

Ecology

Central

Lake Eyre and Bulloo Murray-Darling South-East Queensland Wet Tropics Western Cape and Gulf

Temperature

Fish breeding

Tick

 

Tick

Tick

 

Tick

Geology

Cracking clays

 

Tick

Tick

 

 

South of province

Higher biodiversity habitats

 

Tick

Tick

 

 

 

Hydrology

Fauna adapted for No Flow

Tick

Tick

Tick

Tick

 

Tick

Spate magnitude/run-off

Moderate

Low

Low

Moderate

High

Low

Water quality

Turbidity limits primary production

 

Tick

Lowland streams

 

 

 

Habitat

High substrate heterogeneity leads to high macroinvertebrate diversity

Tick

 

 

Tick

Tick

Tick

Riparian zone provides few nutrient/energy inputs

Tick

Tick

Tick

 

 

Tick


References

  1. ^ Marshall, J, Prior, A, Steward, A & McGregor, G 2006, Freshwater Bioregionalisation of Queensland's Riverine Ecosystems: developement of Interim Freshwater Biogeographic Provinces, Queensland Government.
  2. ^ Newall, P.,Wells, F. 2000, 'Potential for delineating indicator-defined regions for streams in Victoria, Australia', Journal of the North American Benthological Society, vol. 19, pp. 557-571, The Society for Freshwater Science.
  3. ^ Wells, F, Metzeling, L & Newall, P 2002, 'Macroinvertebrate Regionalisation for use in the Management of Aquatic Ecosystems in Victoria, Australia', Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, vol. 74, pp. 271-294, Springer.

Last updated: 22 March 2013

This page should be cited as:

Riverine conceptual models—Background, WetlandInfo, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 11 February 2019, <https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/ecology/aquatic-ecosystems-natural/riverine/background/>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science