John Porter

Dr John Porter

Postdoc / National Aerial Survey
john.porter@unsw.edu.au

Publications

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Kingsford et al. 2017 Continental impacts of water development on waterbirds, contrasting two Australian river basins: Global implications for sustainable water use

Abstract 

The world’s freshwater biotas are declining in diversity, range and abundance, morethan in other realms, with human appropriation of water. Despite considerable dataon the distribution of dams and their hydrological effects on river systems, there arefew expansive and long analyses of impacts on freshwater biota. We investigatedtrends in waterbird communities over 32 years, (1983–2014), at three spatial scales intwo similarly sized large river basins, with contrasting levels of water resource devel-opment, representing almost a third (29%) of Australia: the Murray–Darling Basin andthe Lake Eyre Basin. The Murray–Darling Basin is Australia’s most developed riverbasin (240 dams storing 29,893 GL) while the Lake Eyre Basin is one of the less devel-oped basins (1 dam storing 14 GL). We compared the long-term responses of water-bird communities in the two river basins at river basin, catchment and major wetlandscales. Waterbird abundances were strongly related to river flows and rainfall. For thedeveloped Murray–Darling Basin, we identified significant long-term declines in totalabundances, functional response groups (e.g., piscivores) and individual species ofwaterbird (n = 50), associated with reductions in cumulative annual flow. These trendsindicated ecosystem level changes. Contrastingly, we found no evidence of waterbirddeclines in the undeveloped Lake Eyre Basin. We also modelled the effects of the Aus-tralian Government buying up water rights and returning these to the riverine environ-ment, at a substantial cost (>3.1 AUD billion) which were projected to partly (18%improvement) restore waterbird abundances, but projected climate change effectscould reduce these benefits considerably to only a 1% or 4% improvement, withrespective annual recovery of environmental flows of 2,800 GL or 3,200 GL. Ourunique large temporal and spatial scale analyses demonstrated severe long-term eco-logical impact of water resource development on prominent freshwater animals, withimplications for global management of water resources.

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Bino et al. 2015 Prioritizing Wetlands for Waterbirds in a Boom and Bust System: Waterbird Refugia and Breeding in the Murray-Darling Basin

A systematic prioritisation of wetlands for waterbirds, across about 13.5% of the Murray-Darling Basin, using a 30-year record of systematic aerial surveys of waterbird populations.

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Porter and Kingsford 2014 Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 2014 Annual Summary Report View PDF
Kingsford et al. 2014 Birds of the Murray-Darling Basin

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Porter and Kingsford 2013 Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 2013 Annual Summary Report View PDF
Kingsford et al. 2013 Waterbird communities in the Murray-Darling Basin, 1983-2012 View PDF
Kingsford et al. 2012 National Waterbird Assessment

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Kingsford and Porter 2012 Waterbird monitoring in Australia: value, challenges and lessons learnt after more than 25 years

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Porter and Kingsford 2012 Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 2012 Annual Summary Report View PDF
Porter et al. 2011 Aerial Survey of Wetland Birds in Eastern Australia - October 2011 Annual Summary Report View PDF
Brandis et al. 2009 Preliminary assessment for the environmental water requirements of waterbird species in the Murray Darling Basin View PDF
Kingsford et al. 2008 Waterbrid response to flooding in the northern Murray-Darling Basin 2008 View PDF
Kingsford et al. 2004 Imposed hydrological stability on lakes in arid Australia and effects on waterbirds
Kingsford et al. 1994 Waterbirds and Wetlands in Northwestern New South Wales View PDF
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