Collaborators: Barbara Downes (Lead investigator), Wim Bovill, Nick Bond, Sam Lake, Paul Reich, Rhys Coleman
Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (2014 – 2018)
Industry partners: Melbourne Water & the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (Arthur Rylah Institute)
Following on from the success of our project on Hughes Creek (see Dispersal and species coexistence), this project is testing whether structural retention, whereby plant detritus (logs, bark, leaves) is trapped and retained within river channels, can offset the impacts caused by widespread clearance of vegetation along river banks, a widespread problem in Australia and the world. Theoretically, retention is a major environmental driver of ecosystem change in rivers, but this has rarely been tested, particularly in a restoration context.
We expect to show that increasing retention results in higher species diversity, thus providing managers with a relatively straightforward method for improving the environmental conditions of rivers. We will simultaneously test three ecological hypotheses about rectifying ecosystem degradation caused by human impacts.