Projecting Bird-Assemblage Futures Under Climate Change: The Floodplain Forests of the Southern Murray-Darling Basin
IAE Seminar Series

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  • Faculty of Education, Maths, Technology and Science
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What is the future for the iconic ecosystem of the Murray River floodplains? Centenary Professor Ralph Mac Nally will talk about the pressures of drought, massive water diversions and regional native vegetation degradation on avifauna.

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The river red gum forest of the Murray River floodplain is an iconic Australian ecosystem, but an ecosystem that has been in decline since at least the 1980s. We made system-wide health assessments for the forests, and showed that the condition of the forest has continued to wane at a rapid rate. When projected future trends in forest health (to 2070) are coupled with relationships between health and bird abundance and diversity, we estimate that bird declines will be at least 60% between levels at European settlement and those likely in 2070. Drought, massive water diversions and regional degradation and loss of native vegetation are likely causes of these avifaunal losses. About Ralph Ralph Mac Nally integrates knowledge of ecological processes among terrestrial, freshwater and transitional (floodplains and estuaries) ecosystems. He combines information from extensive experiments, large data, and sophisticated statistical models to understand how biodiversity and ecological processes are governed in whole catchments, from summit to sea. He uses this knowledge base to develop future projections for biodiversity and ecosystem responses to human-induced global change. He has major international research collaborations in western North America, Brazilian Amazonia and Mediterranean Europe.