Physical and ecological associations in dryland refugia: waterholes of the Cooper Creek, Australia

Martin Thoms, Christine Fellows, Stuart Bunn

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    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Waterholes are a significant morphological feature of the Cooper
    Creek system in central Australia. Many of these waterholes contain water
    over extended no flow periods and are recognized as important réfugia for
    aquatic biota. This paper explores how morphological features may influence
    ecosystem processes within waterholes. Each waterhole was characterized via
    a suite of morphological variables and it was found that the maximum fetch
    length was an important variable that separated waterholes into two groups.
    Water turbidity of these two groups of waterholes was different, as were rates
    of benthic production and respiration. Benthic production and therefore energy
    available to support the food webs of these waterholes was greater in the
    group of waterholes with shorter fetch lengths and lower turbidity. The
    possible associations between morphology, turbidity, and primary production
    highlight the importance of understanding the physical template of these
    dryland river ecosystems.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-84
    Number of pages8
    JournalIAHS Proceedings and Reports
    Issue number276
    Publication statusPublished - 2002


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