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Waterbird Communities in the Murray-Darling Basin (1983-2012)

This report examined the effectiveness of using waterbirds as an indicator of wetland and river health in the Murray-Darling Basin. It shows that waterbirds were effective indicators at different spatial scales, from the entire Murray-Darling Basin, to the catchment and finally at the wetland scale. The ability to collect data on waterbirds at the wetland scale allows for the aggregation of wetlands at a catchment scale and then wetlands across the Murray-Darling Basin to provide an assessment of condition at the basin-scale. Further, there are more than 50 species that are reported, meaning that a range of different measures of the indicator can be collected including number of waterbirds, number of species, breeding (2 indices) and number of waterbirds in functional groups as well as individual species. The ability to group waterbird communities according to functional response groups (e.g. piscivores, herbivores) also provides insight into ecosystem functional changes in primary, secondary and tertiary productivity.

Author: Kingsford R T, Bino G, Porter J L, Brandis K