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Title: Comparison of historical and modern river surveys reveal changes to waterhole characteristics in an Australian dryland river
Contributor(s): Pearson, Marita R  (author); Reid, Michael A  (author)orcid ; Miller, Cara  (author)orcid ; Ryder, Darren  (author)
Publication Date: 2020-05-01
Early Online Version: 2020-02-15
DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2020.107089
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Abstract: Human activities are known to impact the physical template of river channels. These impacts can result from deliberate, direct modifications as well as via indirect processes linked to broadscale landscape change. This study examined changes in the physical template of the Barwon-Darling River, a dryland river in southeastern Australia. Historical longitudinal profiles from the late 1800s were compared with contemporary profiles derived from high-definition, side scanning sonar. Comparisons focused on characterising waterhole features as they are a critical biophysical component of dryland rivers. The use of historical data presented several challenges related to small sample size and suspected sampling bias in the historical survey. However, this study demonstrates that these issues are not insurmountable providing the limitations and uncertainties with the data are acknowledged and data analyses are limited to parameters that can distinguish genuine landscape change. The findings revealed a dramatic change in the physical template of the Barwon-Darling River over a 120-yr period. Waterhole depths and distances between waterholes have been altered significantly. The magnitude and trajectory of change was found to be scale-dependent, with the greatest observable change aligned with the presence or absence of low-level weirs. Waterholes influenced by low-level weirs have increased in depth because of localised impoundment, whilst the distance between deep waterholes (>4 m in depth) has declined substantially. In contrast, the maximum depths of waterholes located outside the influence of weir pools has declined by 1.6 m and the distance between deep waterholes has more than doubled in several reaches. These declines are likely to be caused by sediment accumulation in waterholes associated with anthropogenic increases in sediment flux and a decline in the river's capacity to entrain and transport sediment throughout the system.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Geomorphology, v.356, p. 1-13
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Place of Publication: Netherlands
ISSN: 1872-695X
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 050209 Natural Resource Management
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 410406 Natural resource management
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 960501 Ecosystem Assessment and Management at Regional or Larger Scales
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 180403 Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
School of Science and Technology

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