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Riverine ecology (Freshwater Biogeographic Provinces)

Riverine wetlands are those systems that are contained within a channel (e.g. river, creek or waterway) and their associated streamside vegetation[1]. They can be natural or artificial and may connect to lacustrine, palustrine, estuarine and marine wetlands[3]. Water levels in riverine wetlands can be highly variable. The wetlands may contain water permanently or periodically or they may remain dry for long periods. Due to the variability in riverine wetland habitats the species they support can also be highly variable.

To find out more about riverine systems in Queensland choose a wetland type conceptual model below.

Road to Croydon, Photo by Chris Sanderson

Quick facts

is the estimated length of the Flinders River—the longest river totally within Queensland borders.[2]
is the estimated length of the Murray-Darling River that runs from Qld through NSW and Vic before finishing up in SA[2].

Some basic characteristics of riverine or lotic (flowing, moving) systems include:

  • unidirectional flowing water (downhill)
  • erosion and downstream transportation and deposition of sediments
  • links to floodplains
  • linear change in morphology and ecology
  • catchments made up of branching network of streams and rivers that are in dynamic equilibrium with the landscape and its climate
  • catchments connect the landscape and the sea.

The riverine ecosystems in Queensland have been divided into Freshwater Biogeographic Provinces (FBPs) using broad patterns in the natural distribution of faunal communities.

Conceptual models currently exist for:

Broad geographic areas such as Queensland can cover a diverse and complex array of ecosystem types which can make understanding aquatic ecosystem processes difficult. This heterogeneity is related to geographic distance and the presence of different landscape attributes. Regionalisation is a process used to divide a large area into smaller areas with similar (less variable) ecosystem types. This reduction in variability is beneficial to condition assessments because it increases the efficiency of the monitoring effort applied within a sampling program.

Additional information

Pages under this section


  1. ^ Australian Government. Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit Module 2: Interim Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) Classification Framework Ecosystem (ANAE) Classification Framework. [online] Available at:
  2. ^ a b Australian Government, (18 November 2012). Longest Rivers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 August 2012].
  3. ^ Stein, JL (2005), Landscape characteristics of Queensland Freshwater Biogeographical Provinces, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University.

Last updated: 22 March 2013

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Riverine ecology (Freshwater Biogeographic Provinces), WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 April 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science