Assessing the potential for using wetlands as intermediary storages to conjunctively maintain ecological values and support agricultural demands Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Water sharing to meet both agricultural and environmental demands is a critical issue affecting the health of many floodplain river systems around the world. This study explored the potential for using wetlands as temporary off-river storages to conjunctively maintain ecological values and support agricultural demands by assessing the effects of artificial drawdown on wetland aquatic plant communities. An initial experiment was undertaken in outdoor mesocosms in which four different treatments were compared over a 131 day duration: (1) natural drawdown where the water was left to drawdown naturally via evaporation; (2) partial drawdown where approximately half of the volume of water was pumped out after 42 days; (3) stepped drawdown where approximately half of the volume of water pumped out after 42 days, and then the remaining volume of water was pumped out after 117 days; and (4) total drawdown where all of the of water was pumped out after 117 days. A complementary field study was subsequently undertaken where two wetlands were left to drawdown naturally and two were partially drawn down artificially (i.e. had approximately half of their volume removed by pumping). Results from both of these studies indicated that neither aquatic plant abundance nor taxon richness were adversely affected by partial drawdown. Rather, both studies showed that aquatic plant communities subjected to a partial drawdown treatment became more species rich and diverse than communities subjected to a natural drawdown treatment. This suggests that it may be possible to use wetlands as intermediary storages for the dual purposes of maintaining ecological values and supporting agricultural demands.

publication date

  • September 2012