Human activity has transformed global systems on such a scale that sociologists coined the term ‘anthropocene’ to describe the current era of human impact on climate and ecosystems. In dryland rivers of the world, humans have modified landscapes and adapted biophysical processes for food, fibre, energy and transport to such an extent that dams and floodplain agriculture are now visible from space. Intensive anthropogenic activity and resource use in the Murray-Darling Basin for the past 50 years, coupled with climate change, has placed significant pressures on ecological functioning of wetlands. There are fewer waterbird breeding events, declining wetland size, introduced species and dwindling water supplies due to drought, with cascading economic consequences and social implications. Understanding the past social and biophysical changes in dryland rivers is crucial for understanding present development and protecting precious freshwater ecosystems.
Level 5 East Biological Sciences South (E26)
UNSW, Kensington 2052