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Glossary of technical terms

Absorption: process of taking substances such as water and nutrients into the body through cell membranes or, in plants, through root hairs[54]

Accuracy: a measure of the degree of agreement between a measured quantity value and a true quantity value[32]

Active/non-active (status): this field applies to spring features only and identifies whether springs are currently active or inactive (inactive springs are only included for GAB region. (Inactive refers to a spring where no free water was visible at the ground surface, with the exception of some mounded mud springs within the Eulo district)

Adsorption: adherence of a gas, liquid or dissolved chemical to the surface of a solid[33]

Aerobic: the presence of oxygen[33]

Aggregations (birds): see Aggregations page

Allochthonous: derived from outside a system such as the leaves of terrestrial plants that fall into a stream

Alluvial aquifer: a deposit of gravel sand, silt and/or clay particles laid down by physical processes in river channels or on floodplains that stores and transmits water through intergranular voids[24]

Alluvium: soil, clay, silt or gravel deposited by flowing water as it slows in a river bed, delta, estuary or flood plain

Amphidromous: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Anadromous: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Anaerobic: the absence of all oxygen (both free oxygen and chemically bound oxygen)[33]

Anoxic: the absence of free oxygen but with nitrate, nitrite or sulfate present[33]

Anthropogenic: environmental alterations or perturbations resulting from the presence or activities of humans

Aquatic fauna biopassage: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Aquifer: a geologic unit that can store and transmit water at rates fast enough to supply reasonable amounts to wells[21]

Aquitard: a layer in the geological profile that separates two aquifers and restricts the flow between them[54]. In unconsolidated (regolith) aquifers it is generally clay

Assessment: Wetland assessment use data from wetland inventories and analyse the data against criteria using specialised methodologies. For more information see the Assessment page

Attribute (Biophysical attributes): descriptive characteristics or features of ecosystems. An attribute may be a mathematical or statistical indicator, or characteristic used in the Interim Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem Classification Framework to describe characteristics of aquatic ecosystems in order to classify them[6]

Attribute-based classification: a set of biophysical (biological, physical and chemical) attributes for describing and defining ecosystem types. The step of attribute-based classification separates the classification of attributes (e.g. depth, sediment size) from the designation of types (i.e. combinations of attributes) for a particular purpose (e.g. ecosystems). Examples of attributes include lithology, geology, substrate consolidation, water clarity, pH, and the presence and form of flora and fauna species[3]

Attribute classification: defines and categorises components of the environment into attributes and categories, and is not hierarchical within a level

Attribute themes: are broad groups used to describe attributes e.g. terrain, substrate, energy, hydrology (physical/chemical) and biota.

Autochthonous: derived from within a system such as organic matter in a stream resulting from photosynthesis by aquatic algae and plants

Autotrophs are organisms that can produce their own food, using materials from inorganic sources. An autotroph is an organism that feeds itself, without the assistance of any other organisms. They are also known as producers because they are able to make their own food from raw materials and energy. Examples include plants, algae, and some types of bacteria. They form the base of an ecosystem’s energy pyramid, and provide the fuel that all the heterotrophs (organisms that must get their food from others) need to exist.

Available soil water holding capacity: This is a measure of the capacity of soils to store water[52]. Soil water is measured as a percentage of the soil dry weight (% by weight) but sometimes as the volume of water as a percentage of the soil volume (% by volume) or as the depth of water per metre depth of soil (m/m)[16]

Base flow: the groundwater contribution to a stream[21]

Basin: The entire geographical area drained by a river and its tributaries or an area characterised by all run-off being conveyed to the same outlet. This area is often referred to as a catchment area, catchment basin, drainage area, river basin or watershed

Bathymetry: the measurement of water depth at various places in a body of water[43]

Beneficiaries : see Wetland values and services page

Benthic: pertaining to the seafloor (or bottom) of a river, coastal waterway, or ocean (modified from OzCoasts 2015[49]). Benthic material can refer to substrate or sediment and it can be used to describe the organisms that live on, or in, sea floor, or at the bottom of a water column (Modified from Mount & Prahalad 2009[49])

Benthic rugosity: Similar to terrain roughness the benthic rugosity includes the contribution of biota to the structural complexity of a surface (measured across a morphological feature). Generally a ratio of three-dimensional surface measurements to linear/planar measurements or classified observations[2][25].

Biofilm: a gelatinous sheath of algae, polysaccharides and microorganisms (including benthic algae and bacteria) formed on gravel and sediment and surfaces of large plants, that adsorbs colloids and nutrients[54]

Bioherm: a body of rock composed of the calcareous remains of coral, algae, molluscs, and other sedentary marine life[38]

Biomass: the mass of living tissue (plant and animal)[33]

Biopassage Bio - meaning 'life', 'living things'. Passage - meaning 'a means of passing, a way, a route avenue, channel etc.' See also Aquatic fauna biopassage[37].

Bioregion: refers to a biogeographic region or an area of land that is dominated by similar broad landscape patterns that reflect major structural geologies and climate, as well as major floristic and faunal assemblages[55]

Blue carbon: Blue carbon is the term used to describe the carbon stored in three coastal ecosystems: mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses.

Capillary zone: pores are filled with capillary water so that the saturation approaches 100%; however, the water is held in place by capillary forces[21]

Catadromous: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Catchment: an area with a natural boundary. Examples of natural boundaries include ridges, hills or mountains. Here, all surface water drains to a common channel to form rivers or creeks[13]

Catchment constriction: a narrowing in the width and/or a decrease in the depth of the catchment resulting in the formation of a catchment throat which acts as a 'bottle-neck'[9]

Cave(s): a natural cavity in rock large enough to be entered by a person. It may contain water[41]

Channel(s): linear, generally sinuous open depression, comprising of a bed and banks which is in parts eroded, excavated, or built up by channelled stream flow[53]

Classification: the process of simplifying complex, and sometimes continuous, data and information and converting it into practical categories to make it more usable. Through classification, attributes can be classified into categories, independent of one another, enabling synthesis of the parts (components) and processes of different ecosystems[19]

Cloud interception (cloud stripping, cloud capture): the deposition of cloud water onto the vegetation in tropical montane cloud forests[40][42].

Coagulant: a substance that facilitates the process of converting a colloidal or finely divided suspension of particulate matter into particles that settle[54]

Colloidal material: the finest clay and organic material, with a particle size generally less than 0.001mm diameter. This material is made up of the finest particles removed by erosion. They remain permanently in suspension, unless subject to coagulation[54]

Commonwealth land: Commonwealth land includes land owned or leased by the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth agency

Further information is available at Geoscience Australia or in A Guide to land tenure in Queensland

Components: see components, processes and drivers

Composition: the act of combining parts or elements to form a whole. The make-up or constitution.

Confidence: degree of confidence that inventory information reflects what is present in the field. There are a number of measures of confidence: spatial accuracy (an object is where specified); attribute accuracy (an object is accurately identified); the surrogate's own confidence measures; or an expert's confidence in a model

Confined aquifer: aquifer that is overlain by a confining layer[21]

Conglomerate: made up of parts from various sources or of various kinds[43]

Connectivity (aquatic): Aquatic ecosystem connectivity refers to the connections between and within aquatic ecosystems

Contaminant: a contaminant can be -

  1. a gas, liquid or solid; or
  2. an odour; or
  3. an organism (whether alive or dead), including a virus; or
  4. energy, including noise, heat, radioactivity and electromagnetic radiation; or
  5. a combination of contaminants

Conveyance: measure of the hydraulic properties of a channel defined by the expression, K = Q/Sf1/2, where K is the conveyance of a channel, Q is the discharge, and Sf is friction slope (i.e. the rate of head loss due to boundary resistance)[54]

Cyanobacteria: a type of naturally occurring, microscopic, primitive photosynthetic bacteria. Also known as blue-green algae[54]

Decision rule: a combination of conditions that describe where ecosystems are or are likely to be dependent on groundwater at a specific site or local area according to expert knowledge[37]

Denitrification: the microbial transformation of nitrate to nitrogen gas[33]

Dependency: where the biodiversity and/or ecological processes are determined by the quality, quantity and/or timing of groundwater supplies[37]

Derived high confidence: according to expert knowledge, there is a high confidence in the mapping rule-set and a high confidence in the prediction that the mapped ecosystem has some degree of groundwater dependence[37]

Derived low confidence: according to expert knowledge, there is a low confidence in the mapping rule-set and a low confidence in the prediction that the mapped ecosystem has some degree of groundwater dependence[37]

Derived moderate confidence: according to expert knowledge, there is a moderate confidence in the mapping rule-set and a moderate confidence in the prediction that the mapped ecosystem has some degree of groundwater dependence[37]

Detention time or hydraulic residence time: a measure of the average duration for which water occupies a given volume, with units of time[33]

Diadromous: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Diatom: a diverse group of single-celled microscopic algae found in virtually all waters[54]

Discharge: the removal of water from the saturated zone across the water table surface[24]

Dispersive soils: soil that is structurally unstable in water, breaking down into its constituent particles (sand, silt and clay) and consequently allowing the dispersive clay fraction to disperse and cloud the water[54]

Disturbance: has been defined as '...any relatively discrete event in time that disrupts ecosystem, community, or population structure and changes resources, substrate availability or the physical environment'[62] However, to permit realistic comparisons to be made between studies, Lake (2000) promotes the definition of disturbance in purely physical terms, incorporating properties such as intensity, seasonality, extent, frequency and type. Under this definition 'perturbation” is used to describe the combination of cause and effect, 'disturbance” is the cause, and the effect is termed the 'response”[8][26][35]

Diurnal tide: refers to a tide which has a period or cycle of approximately 1 tidal day (about 25 hours). Diurnal tides usually have 1 high and 1 low tide each day. The tides at Karumba are a typical example of diurnal tides[39].

Drainage basin: subsurface volume through which groundwater flows toward a specific discharge zone[21]

Drivers: see components, processes and drivers

Ecology: see Wetland ecology page

Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM): A management approach that considers the relationships between systems, the consequences of impacts on systems and informs decision-making around initiatives and actions to successfully manage systems[22]

Ecological character: ecological character is the combination of the ecosystem components, processes and benefits/services that characterise the wetland at a given point in time (where, within this context, ecosystem benefits are defined in accordance with the MEA definition of ecosystem services as the “benefits that people receive from ecosystems”)[1]

Ecosystem: a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their nonliving environment interacting as a functioning unit[18]

Ecosystem components : see Components, processes and drivers page

Ecosystem drivers : see Components, processes and drivers page

Efficacy: the power to produce an effect[43]

Endemic: characteristic of or prevalent in a particular field, area, or environment. Restricted or particular to a locality or region[43]

Environment: as defined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

(a) ecosystems and their constituent parts, including people and communities; and

(b) natural and physical resources; and

(c) the qualities and characteristics of locations, places and areas; and

(d) heritage values of places; and

(e) the social, economic and cultural aspects of a thing mentioned in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d).

Environmental harm:

  1. Environmental harm is any adverse effect, or potential adverse effect (whether temporary or permanent and of whatever magnitude, duration or frequency) on an environmental value, and includes environmental nuisance
  2. Environmental harm may be caused by an activity—
    1. whether the harm is a direct or indirect result of the activity; or
    2. whether the harm results from the activity alone or from the combined effects of the activity and other activities or factors

Environmental Offsets: see Environmental Offsets

Environmental processes : Components, processes and drivers page

Ecosystem services: see Wetland values and services page

Electrical conductivity: the ability of water or soil solution to conduct an electric current[2]

Epipelic: living on/in fine sediments, namely mud or sand. 

Epiphyte: a plant that derives its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and grows usually on another plant[21].

Epiphytic: pertaining to a plant that grows on the outside of another plant, using it for support but not obtaining food from it[54]

Epiphyton: is biofilm that grows on the stems and leaves of aquatic plants, consisting of assemblages of algae, diatoms, bacteria, and EPS[64].

Ephemeral: lasting only a short time; short lived; transitory[37]

Estuarine: freshwaters sometimes diluting oceanic waters, usually semi-enclosed by land[5][15].

Estuarine ecosystems: see Intertidal and Subtidal (Estuarine and Marine)

Estuarine wetlands:see Intertidal and Subtidal (Estuarine and Marine)

Estuarine groundwater dependent ecosystem see GDE FAQ page

Euphotic: the near-surface part of a water body where photosynthesis is possible

Eutrophic: water with an excess of plant growth nutrients that typically results in algae blooms and extreme (high and low) dissolved oxygen concentrations[33]

Evaporation: the total loss of moisture as water vapour from all sources, including open water, plant surfaces, and from soil surfaces, and excluding transpiration[16]

Evapotranspiration: the movement of water from the landscape to the atmosphere, calculated as the sum of evaporation and transpiration[16]

Existence value: the origin of existence value can be traced to John Krutilla who in 1967 proposed that economists should not just assign values to goods and services that are directly consumed, but should also attribute a value to the knowledge that a particular wilderness, endangered species or other object in nature exists[45].

The existence value is the value that individuals may attach to just knowing of the existence of something, as opposed to having direct use of that thing.For example, knowledge of the existence of wetlands may have value to environmentalists who do not actually see them.

Existence benefit: the benefit provided by an environmental entity the existence of which is considered desirable to be maintained although it has no prospect of being of use to humans now or in the future[27]

First flush: the initial high concentration of accumulated pollutants (compared to later levels) washed from a catchment during the early stages of a storm event[54]

Fixation: the conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia by microbial organisms and chemical fixation[54]

Flocculation: the process by which colloidal or very fine clay particles, suspended in water, come together into larger masses or loose flocs. Flocculation of suspended sediment depends on the balance between exchangeable ions on the clay and those in solution and on the overall ionic strength of the solution[54]

Flood furrow irrigation (recycle pit): a method of irrigation in which water runs along small ditches or furrows which lead from the supply line[54]

Freehold: Freehold land is held outright by a private owner. Ownership by the titleholder is not absolute because the state is empowered to withhold certain rights, such as the right to any minerals or petroleum

Gaining channel(s): a stream that receives groundwater discharge[21]

Generalisation: the process of spatially simplifying information - by abstraction, reduction and simplification of features to accommodate change of scale or resolution[22].

Geographical Information System (GIS): a computer system that can capture, store, analyse, and present in various ways data that locates places on the earth's surface[37]

Geomorphology: the branch of geology dealing with the characteristics, origin, and development of landforms[37]

Gleyed soil: A soil having one or more neutral gray horizons as a result of waterlogging and lack of oxygen. The term "gleyed" also designates gray horizons and horizons having yellow and gray mottles as a result of intermittent waterlogging.[58]

Groundwater: water that is present in the pores and cracks of the saturated or capillary zone and water that has been present in caves[37]

Groundwater dependent ecosystem (GDE): see GDE ecology page

Groundwater flow system (GFS): the pattern of groundwater flow within a catchment[14]

Guild: see

Habitat classification: A level of the ANAE classification, defined as aspects of the landscape (or seascape) that are dependent on water, including the major aquatic systems based on Cowardin et al. (1979) for surface waters (marine, estuarine, lacustrine, palustrine, riverine and floodplain.)[5]

HAT (highest astronomical tide): see Maritime Safety Queensland

Herbaceous: referring to a herb, which is a plant that usually has soft leaves and stems that are not secondarily thickened and lignified, and which dies annually

Heterotrophs: are organisms that must get their food from others. They are known as consumers because they consume autotrophs (producers) or other consumers as it was easier than making energy and organic materials for themselves. Dogs, birds, fish, and humans are all examples of heterotrophs[11].

Hydraulic: the study of water or other liquid flow[54]

Hydraulic conductivity: generally, the rate at which a material allows water to move through it. The larger the hydraulic conductivity, the smaller the resistance to water movement and the greater the ease with which water flows in response to pressure gradients[16]

Hydraulic loading rate: a measure of the application of a volume of water to a land area with units of volume per area per time or applied water depth per time[33]

Hydrology: a science dealing with the properties, distribution and circulation of water,[33] see pressures pages

Hydrolysis: the process of decomposition of organic compounds by interaction with water[54]

Hypersaline:Denoting or relating to an aquatic environment that is saltier than typical seawater[37].

Hypoxic: characterized by reduced levels of dissolved oxygen[30].

Hypoxia: An environmental condition in which the concentration of oxygen is lower than normally found in the environment[30].

Hyporheic zone: the zone of mixing between surface and groundwater below the bed of a stream[61]

ICOLLs: Intermittently Closed and Open Lakes and Lagoons, referring to Coastal Lagoons and some Wave-Dominated Estuaries under low runoff conditions.[47]

Impervious: relating to the condition of being impermeable to water[54]

Indigenous: Originating in and characterising a particular region or country

Infauna: the fauna living below the surface of ocean and river beds

Infiltration: entry into the soil of water made available at the ground surface, together with the associated flow away from the ground surface within the unsaturated zone[24]

Inorganic: all chemicals which do not contain organic carbon[33]

Intermediate groundwater flow system: are intermediate in extent between local and regional systems, generally occurring within individual catchments but also sometimes flow between smaller sub-catchments. They tend to occur in valleys typically over a horizontal extent of 5 to 10 kilometres[14]

Intermittent: recurrent; showing water only part of the time[37]

Interoperability: able to connect with each other for the exchange of data, programs, etc

Intertidal: part of the shoreline that is found between the high tide and low tide, experiencing fluctuating influences of land and sea[20]

Inventory: see inventory page

Isotope: any of two or more forms of a chemical element, having the same number of protons in the nucleus and, hence, the same atomic number, but having different numbers of neutrons in the nucleus and, hence, different atomic weights[37]

Karst: a terrain with distinctive landforms and drainage arising from greater rock solubility in natural water that is found elsewhere[31]

Known GDE: groundwater dependent ecosystems accurately identified according to expert knowledge and supporting evidence[37]

Lacustrine: see Lacustrine ecology page

Lacustrine groundwater dependent ecosystem: see GDE FAQ page

Labile: apt or likely to change: in chemistry, biology, psychology, etc. - able or likely to change or break down easily, rapidly, or continually[34].

Laminar: a smooth, steady, uniform, non-turbulent flow of fluid, in which there is little or no mixing of neighbouring layers[54]

Land zone: a simplified geology/substrate-landform classification[55].

Landform: any of the numerous features which make up the surface of the earth leakage. Outflow from an aquifer into adjacent beds[24]

Landscape ecology: see landscape page

Land unit: distinctive landscape positions (within a land system) with characteristic soil–vegetation associations[57]

LAT (lowest astronomical tide): see Maritime Safety Queensland

These levels will not be reached every year. LAT and HAT are not the extreme levels which can be reached, as storm surges may cause considerably higher and lower levels to occur.

LAT has been used as port and chart datum since 1994.

Lee: the side or part that is sheltered or turned away from the wind[38]

Lentic: of or relating to standing water such as ponds, lakes and reservoirs, etc. as opposed to moving water such as rivers and streams

Littoral: of or pertaining to the shore

Local government areas: Local government is a form of government in which responsibility for the regulation of certain matters within particular local government areas is delegated by statute to locally elected councillors.

The Queensland Consolidated Acts, Local Government Act 1993 – Sect 35 defines a local government as a body corporate with perpetual succession which has a common seal and may sue and be sued in its name.

The Queensland Consolidated Acts, Local Government Act 1993 – Sect 15 defines a local government area as the fundamental geographical basis of Queensland's local government system.

A local government area (LGA) included in the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) structure is a spatial unit which represents the whole geographical area of responsibility of an incorporated local government council or an Aboriginal or Island council in Queensland (Australian Bureau of Statistics). For more information see Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)

Local groundwater flow system: local groundwater flow systems have recharge and discharge areas within a few kilometres of one another. They tend to occur within individual sub-catchments, in areas of higher relief such as foothills to ranges[14]

Losing channel(s): where the bottom of the stream channel is higher than the local water table and water drains from the stream into the ground[21]

Lotic: of or relating to an aquatic environment where there is moving water such as rivers and streams (compare with lentic)

LWD (low water datum): see Maritime Safety Queensland

Macronutrient: a chemical element or substance (such as potassium or protein) that is essentially in relatively large amounts to the growth and health of a living organism[43]

Macrophyte: an aquatic plant large enough to be seen with the naked eye; either emergent, submerged, or floating

Mangrove: see mangrove page

Map(s): graphic representations that facilitate a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world[29]

Mapping rule set: a combination of related decision rules with similar groundwater dependent ecosystem drivers and processes that when applied to spatial data sets through Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis delineate where ecosystems are or are likely to be dependent on groundwater

Mapping rule set part: a component of a mapping rule set that describes a specific portion of the total groundwater dependent ecosystems identified in the mapping rule set

Marine: oceanic waters[4][15]

Marine groundwater dependent ecosystem see GDE FAQ page

Marine system: see wetland systems definitions page

Mean sea level:the average level of the sea as calculated from a long series of observations of tidal oscillations taken at equal time intervals[37].

Mesophotic coral ecosystem: characterized by the presence of light-dependent corals and associated communities typically found at depths ranging from 30–40 m and extending to over 150m in tropical and subtropical regions. The dominant communities providing structural habitat in the mesophotic zone can be comprised of coral, sponge, and algal species[7]

Meteoric: of the atmosphere; meteorological

Microbes: an organism of microscopic or ultramicroscopic size[43]

Microbiological: pertaining to the branch of biology dealing with microscopic forms of life[43]

Micronutrient: a chemical substance that is required for biological growth in relatively low quantities and in small proportion to the major growth nutrients, e.g. boron, iron, copper[33]

Monitoring: see monitoring page

Mound spring: see sedimentary rocks (Great Artesian Basin)

MHHW (mean higher high water): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MHLW (mean higher low water): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MHW (mean high water): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MHWN (mean high water neaps): see Maritime Safety Queensland 

MHWS (mean high water springs): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MLHW (mean lower high water): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MLLW (mean lower low water): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MLW (mean low water): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MLWN (mean low water neaps): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MLWS (mean low water springs): see Maritime Safety Queensland

MSL (mean sea level): see Maritime Safety Queensland

Nanotechnology: the science of manipulating materials on an atomic or molecular scale[43]

Nitrification: biological transformation (oxidation) of ammonia nitrogen to nitrite and nitrate forms[33]

Nitrogen fixation: a microbial process in which atmospheric nitrogen gas is incorporated into the synthesis of organic nitrogen[33]

NRM regions: regional natural resource management (NRM) bodies are responsible for protecting and managing Australia's natural resources in specific NRM regions. To do this, regional NRM plans were developed which outline how a regional body will identify and achieve the region's NRM targets

There are 56 bodies in Australia of which 14 are based in Queensland. For information on other regional bodies around Australia, visit the Australian Government NRM website

NRM regions are the regions that a Regional NRM body would look after. For example Terrain is the name of the Regional NRM body for Far North Queensland Region

Oceanodromous: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Organic: chemical compounds that contain reduced carbon bonded with hydrogen, oxygen and a variety of other elements[33]

Oxidised nitrogen: nitrite plus nitrate nitrogen[33]

Palaeochannel: an ancient stream or riverbed, cut into the rock or soil and overlaid by sediment after the stream has changed its course or dried up[37]

Palustrine: See Palustrine ecology page

Palustrine groundwater dependent ecosystem: see GDE FAQ page

Para-karst: terrain that consists of a mixture of karstic and fluvial due to the mix of karst and non-karst rocks in an outcrop[23]

Parafluvial zone: the groundwater alongside the hyporheic zone, extending outwards beneath the entire active river channel[56]

Perched aquifer: a saturated lense that is bounded by a perched water table[24]

Perennial: lasting for an indefinitely long time; enduring. Lasting or continuing throughout the year, as a stream[37]

Permanent: lasting or intended to last indefinitely; remaining unchanged. Providing water throughout all seasons[37]

Permeability: the ability of a rock to transmit water[21]

pH: value that represents the acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous solution. It is defined as the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration of the solution[2]

Photolysis: the process of decomposition of a compound into simpler units as a result of absorbing one or more quanta of radiation[54]

Photosynthesis: the biological synthesis of organic matter from inorganic matter in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll[33]

Phytoplankton: microscopic algae that are suspended in the water column and are not attached to surfaces[33]

Phreatic zone: see zone of saturation

Pictorial conceptual model: pictorial conceptual models are representations of observed objects, phenomena and processes in a logical and objective way with the aim of constructing a formal system whose theoretical consequences are not contrary to what is observed in the real world[59]

Pneumatophore: a usually partially exposed root of a wetland plant (such as a mangrove) that functions especially in the intake of oxygen from the atmosphere[59].

Porosity: percentage of the rock and soil that is void of material[21]

Potamodromous: see Aquatic fauna passage (biopassage)

Precipitation (e.g. chemical): The process of separation by gravity of chemical substances from solution in which they combine to form insoluble compounds[54]

Processes: Components, processes and drivers page

Propagules: any part of an organism that is liberated from the adult form and which can give rise to a new individual, such as a fertilised egg or spore

Pseudokarst: distinct landform with features similar to karst forms, however these landforms evolve in response to dominant processes other than rock dissolution[37]

Qualifiers: see Attributes and qualifiers

Reactive nitrogen (Nr): compounds in the atmosphere and biosphere. It includes forms of nitrogen, such as ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4+) nitrous oxide (N2O), and nitrate (NO3-), proteins and nucleic acids[12]

Recharge: the entry into the saturated zone of water made available at the water table surface, together with the associated flow away from the water table within the saturated zone[24]

Redox reaction: A chemical reaction involving both reduction and oxidation, which results in changes in oxidation numbers of atoms included in the reaction[10].

Reference Ecosystem: A reference ecosystem conditions should reflect the attributes that have developed after natural disturbances, and the most useful reference conditions are often those that represent the range of “natural” variability associated with the ecosystem prior to human disturbance.

Refugia: areas where an organism can survive during a period of unfavourable conditions (singular: refugium)[38]

Region: broad scale, high level of regionalisation to characterise aquatic ecosystems at a national /regional scale, broadly placing aquatic ecosystems into regions using an ecological underpinning. This provides an overall framework for subsequent finer scale levels[6]

Regional ecosystem (RE): vegetation communities in a bioregion that are consistently associated with a particular combination of geology, landform and soil[55]

Regional groundwater flow system: regional groundwater flow systems are characterised by laterally extensive aquifers, which may be thicker than 300 metres, and recharge and discharge areas separated by distances of fifty or more kilometres. They occur in areas of low relief such as alluvial plains. The aquifers in regional systems are usually wholly or partly confined, and can be overlain by local and intermediate flow systems. The time for groundwater discharge to occur following post-clearing increases in groundwater recharge may be as great as one hundred years[14]

Rehabilitation: the manipulation of the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of a site with the goal of repairing natural/historic functions of degraded wetland. Rehabilitation results in a gain in wetland function.

Remediation (algae): the act of enhancing the ecological condition, landscape, open space, and recreational values of a watercourse. The aim might not necessarily be achieving a pre-impact condition[54]

Remote sensing: the identification of data, usually about features of the earth or other bodies in space, from a satellite, aeroplane etc[37]

Require access: ecosystems may require either facultative access to groundwater(opportunistic use of groundwater to satisfy at least some proportion of their environmental water requirements) or obligate access (require groundwater to survive)[63][17]

Restoration: a bringing back to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition.

Riparian:  of, relating to, or situated or dwelling on the bank of a river or other body of water[36].

Riverine: see Riveine ecology page

Riverine groundwater dependent ecosystem: see GDE FAQ page

Roost: see

Rugosity: see Benthic Rugosity

Run-off: total flow in a stream[21]

Salinity: the presence of soluble salts in or on soils or in water[2]

Saltpan: A shallow container or depression in the ground in which salt water evaporates to leave a deposit of salt.[37]

Saturated zone: see 'Zone of saturation'

Scale: the parameter that describes the level of geographic resolution and extent, the context of space and time and helps define the positional accuracy[50]

Sclerophyllous: leaves which are hard and thickened, characteristic of many Australian native plants, in particular Eucalyptus species

Seasonal: relating to or dependent on the seasons of the year or some particular season; periodical[37]

Sedimentation: the process of particles and adsorbed pollutants from the water column settling by force of gravity. The sedimentation efficiency is a function of eddy forces in the settling basin, and the period of detention of flow in the basin. Typical pollutants affected include sediment, hydrocarbons and metals[54]

Semidiurnal tide: refers to a tide which has a period or cycle of approximately half of 1 tidal day (about 12.5 hours). Semidiurnal tides usually have 2 high and 2 low tides each day. The tides at Brisbane Bar are a typical example of semidiurnal tides[39].

Senescence: the growth phase in a plant or plant part (such as a leaf) from full maturity to death[51]

Sequester: to bind or absorb (i.e. carbon dioxide) as part of a larger chemical process or compound[43]

Shorebird: see birds

seep: subset of springs, see spring

Soak: subset of springs, see spring

Soil water: water in the vadose zone that is available to growing plants[21]

Spring: see GDE FAQ page

State land: State land is under the control of the State of Queensland, but may be subject to a lease, permit or licence, reserved for a community purpose, dedicated as a road, or subject to no tenure at all

Stratification: see here

Stygofauna: groundwater fauna[28]

Structure: anything composed of parts arranged together in some way.

Structural macrobiota: Sessile (attached) flora and fauna which increase spatial complexity (rugosity) and alter local environmental conditions of ecosystems, creating living space for other animal and plant species. Consequently ecosystems having structural macrobiota are biodiverse assemblages (after Lilley and Schiel, 2006 in: Mount et al., 2007;[5])

Substrate: The sediment and other material that comprises the seabed (or floor)[5].

Subterranean: existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground[16]

Subterranean GDE: is a shorthand term used in the GDE mapping to refer to aquifer and cave ecosystems occurring below the surface of the ground which requires access to groundwater on a permanent or intermittent basis to meet all or some of their water requirements so as to maintain their communities of plants and animals, ecological processes and ecosystem services[37]

Subtidal: permanently below the level of low tide, i.e. continuously submerged within tidal waters[48]

Surface expression GDE: is a shorthand term used in the GDE mapping to refer to an ecosystem occurring on the surface of the ground which requires access to groundwater discharge on a permanent or intermittent basis to meet all or some of their water requirements so as to maintain their communities of plants and animals, ecological processes and ecosystem services[37]

Surficial: occurring on or near the Earth's surface

Tailwater: relating to the hydraulic conditions immediately downstream of a given hydraulic structure, flow path, or a given reach of a flow path.[54] Often refers to the excess water being generated as runoff following an irrigation event

Terrain (sea floor): see Terrain theme

Terrain morphology: see Terrain theme

Terrestrial groundwater dependent ecosystems(GDEs): is a shorthand term used in the GDE mapping to refer to an ecosystem which requires access to groundwater present below the surface on a permanent or intermittent basis to meet all or some of their water requirements so as to maintain their communities of plants and animals, ecological processes and ecosystem services[37]

Tidal influence (upper limit): includes freshwater area that is moved back and forward by the tide but is not saline.

Tidal inundation regime: see Inundation

Tidal planes: see Inundation

Tide: see Inundation

Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN): a measure of reduced nitrogen = Organic N + Ammonia[33]

Total dissolved solids (TDS): a measure of the inorganic salts (and organic compounds) dissolved in water[2]

Total nitrogen (TN): a measure of all organic and inorganic nitrogen forms in a water sample. TN = NO3 + NO2 +TKN[33]

Toxicants: see here

Transform: a change in composition or structure[43]

Transpiration: the process of water loss from leaves to the atmosphere[16]

Trophic status:  the productivity of aquatic ecosystems, in terms of organic carbon produced per unit of time and surface. Waters with low productivity are termed oligotrophic and waters with high productivity eutrophic[60].

Troglofauna: see aquifers and caves page

Turbidity: see light availability and productivity page

Type: a kind, class, or group as distinguished by a particular characteristic

Typology: a set of rules that are applied in a hierarchy to the attribute classification to identify types for a specific purpose. Different typologies can be developed from the same attribute classification to fulfil different purpose[5]

Unknown confidence: according to expert knowledge, the confidence in the mapping rule-set and in the prediction that the mapped ecosystem has some degree of groundwater dependence is yet to be determined[37]

Unique Or Rare Ecosystem Types: ecosystems that rarely occur, due to either a rare combination of biophysical attributes or reduced extent due to human changes.

Unsaturated zone: see vadose zone

Urea: a soluble weakly basic nitrogenous compound CO(NH2)2 that is the chief solid component of mammalian urine and an end product of protein decomposition, is synthesized from carbon dioxide and ammonia, and is used especially in synthesis (as of resins and plastics) and in fertilizers and animal rations[37].

Vadose zone: region below the land surface where the soil pores contain both air and water[21]

Values: see values and services page

Vent: see spring

Vivipary: vivipary or germination of seeds while still attached to the mother plant e.g. mangroves.

Volatilisation (regional): the process of converting a chemical substance from a liquid or solid to a gaseous or vapour state. Typical stormwater pollutants treated by volatilisation include hydrocarbons and mercury[54]

Wader: see birds

Water Column: is the vertical water mass between the surface of the water and the substrate. Includes physical, chemical and biological attributes including water, including: water temperature and salinity conditions, biogeochemical features. These suite of attributes can vary concurrently, forming vertical layering or water masses (see also 'hydroforms' of the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)[20]).

Waterhole: a waterhole is a wetland where water pools in a depression within a landform element at a defined spatial scale.

Water quality: the chemical characteristics of water in terms of suitability of the water for various intended uses[24]

Water table: the level of groundwater; the upper surface of the zone of saturation for underground water[2]

Waterbird: see birds

Weathered: worn, disintegrated, or changed in colour or composition, by the action of the elements[37]

Wetland: see wetland definition page

Wetland bird: see birds

Wetland systems: wetland system definitions can be found on the wetland systems definitions page

Wise Use: the wise use of wetlands is the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development (where the phrase in the context of sustainable development is intended to recognise that while some wetland development is inevitable and that many developments have important benefits to society, developments can be facilitated in sustainable ways by approaches elaborated under the Ramsar Convention, and it is not appropriate to imply that development is an objective for every wetland)[1]

Wonky hole: a spring on the seabed that pumps out water draining from the land[44]

Wrack: any seaweed or marine vegetation cast ashore[38]

Zone of saturation: the pores of soil or rock are saturated with water[46]


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Last updated: 10 May 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Glossary of technical terms, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 May 2021. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science