Valiant Vegetation

The Basin Plan seeks to protect or restore the condition, diversity, extent and connectivity between native water dependent vegetation. Vegetation is important, because wetland and floodplain plants provide refuges, breeding habitats and food for aquatic organisms. We also have many animals that live permanently or seasonally on the riverine lands adjoining wetlands, floodplains and rivers.

Native plants are critical to the processes that maintain healthy ecosystems, especially nutrient and carbon cycling, and water and sediment oxygenation.  When we talked with water managers they identified two areas for our research to explore:

1. Understorey and wetland plants.

Our research is aiming to define the appropriate flow regimes required to support vegetation diversity, and any other factors that might threaten this diversity. We will identify how changing flow regimes might affect the composition of plant communities, from the species level to whole communities, and from long-term time-scales (decades) through medium-term (1-10 years), down to single floods.

2. Trees and other long-lived vegetation.

Our research is focusing on defining optimum flow regimes for the germination of seedlings and the growth of saplings. This research aims to identify the flows required to ensure there are trees of different ages, which is a broad indicator of tree population health.

For both areas, our work is analysing how Site characteristics (soil type, climate, and groundwater), increased temperature, and changes in rainfall seasonality could influence flow requirements.

How our vegetation work fits within Basin Plan Objectives:


We work closely with water managers throughout the research process to see how our investigations can be incorporated into their day-to-day water management decisions. Watch the video to find out some of the most recent work we have been doing as well as following the links to stories recently featured in the popular RipRap Magazine – Thrive: nature, water and wellbeing.

Our MDB EWKR Vegetation Team:

Team Members Biography
Cherie Campbell
Vegetation Theme Coordinator – MDFRC/La Trobe University
Cherie’s main research interests relate to understanding the maintenance of aquatic and floodplain vegetation in riverine corridors, monitoring ecological responses to flow regimes, and assessing and interpreting patterns in aquatic and floodplain vegetation composition.
Susan Gehrig
Acting Vegetation Theme Manager – MDFRC/La Trobe University
Susan’s is an experienced freshwater vegetation ecologist, with particular interest in ecological and ecophysiological responses of riparian, floodplain and wetland vegetation to changing flow regimes, determining water requirements of inland water vegetation and the possible impacts of altered flow regimes to ecosystem function to inform natural resource and water management.
Sam Capon

Griffith University

Sam is an ecologist with a background in the ecology and management of riverine and wetland landscapes, especially their vegetation and particularly in dryland regions. Much of her work focuses on informing water and land management to protect, enhance and restore these ecosystems.
Cassandra James

James Cook University

Cassie is an experienced freshwater plant ecologist with particular experience in northern Australia including the northern Basin. She is interested in landscape scale responses, examining ecological responses through the analysis of very large spatial datasets and vegetation data using a wide range of statistical, programming and modelling tools, as well as experience modelling the impacts of climate change on freshwater biota at broad spatial scales.

Kay Morris

Arthur Rylah Institute

Kay is a senior scientist at the Arthur Rylah Institute with research interests in wetland ecology, vegetation assessment, monitoring program design and conceptual model development, including experience assessing the response of aquatic vegetation to a range of stressors. She recently undertaken work on propagule dispersal.
Jason Nicol

South Australia Research & Development Institute

Dr Jason Nicol is the Plant Ecology Sub-program Leader at SARDI  Aquatic  Sciences.  The  role  is  responsible  for  leading  and  developing  research  projects  to  study  the  ecology   of   aquatic   and   riparian   flora   in   freshwater   dependent ecosystems throughout the State.  Jason  is  regarded  as  a  national  leader  in  the  field  of  aquatic and riparian plant ecology and research interests include;   seed   banks,   impacts   of   altered   hydrological regimes,  vegetation  surveys,  monitoring  and  evaluation and ecological risk assessment.
Rachael Thomas

NSW Office of Environment & Heritage

Rachael currently works for the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage undertaking research on landscape scale vegetation dynamics using remote sensing and modelling techniques.  Rachael is also completing a PhD at the University of New South Wales.