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Wetlands and climate change

What is the wetlands and climate change project?

The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board, together with wetland managers and community, is aiming to maintain and enhance the biodiversity values of the region. In the Murraylands and Riverland region, the most significant impact of climate change is a forecast reduction in the frequency, duration and extent of flooding of the River Murray. The wetlands and climate change project identifies aquatic-ecosystem dependent fauna species along the River Murray in South Australia that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The project also identifies ‘hot spot’ areas where these vulnerable species may be found.

What were the objectives of the project?

This project involved assessing the vulnerability of native vertebrate fauna to climate change, to help inform management of wetlands and floodplains along South Australia’s River Murray. The main objectives were to:

  • identify native aquatic-ecosystem-dependent vertebrate species along the River Murray in South Australia (excluding the Lower Lakes and Coorong) that are vulnerable to climate change
  • develop a method and assess the vulnerability of native vertebrate species to climate change by collating and evaluating available information regarding the ecology, physiology, genetics and resilience of each species
  • identify regional ‘hot spots’ that support high diversity of species that are at risk to climate change, as determined through vulnerability assessments.
  • identify wetland and key environmental asset (KEA) areas associated with the distribution of at risk species.
  • develop management recommendations relating to wetland and KEA areas and at-risk species.

What has been found?

Thirty seven species of aquatic-ecosystem dependent vertebrate fauna were identified as most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change along the River Murray between Wellington and the state border.

Summaries produced for each of the 37 species indentified that those most at risk to climate change were those:

  • reliant on seasonal flooding and flow regimes
  • with narrow habitat requirements
  • with a low tolerance to salinity
  • with limited dispersal ability
  • of small population
  • with low reproductive capacity and recruitment rates.

Spatial distribution and proximity analyses determined the spread of the 37 vulnerable species through wetlands and KEAs with wetland complexes, and were used to develop a list of priority areas for management. Seventeen KEAs, with records of 10 or more ‘most vulnerable’ species, have been identified for priority management through this project.

Lead agency

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board

Funding partners

This project is jointly funded through the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board and the SA Department for Environment and Water.

Government of South Australia logo

More information

Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board

Unit 5-6, Level 1 Sturt Centre, 2 Sturt Reserve Road, Murray Bridge, SA, 5253

08 8532 9100