Confirmation of Candidature presentation: The ecohydrological implications of changing land use in the Daly River Catchment

Confirmation of Candidature presentation: The ecohydrological implications of changing land use in the Daly River Catchment

Thu, 14/11/2013 - 13:00

About the Presenter

Pippa Featherston

Pippa Featherston is a PhD student with the Research Institute of Environment and Livelihoods at CDU researching ecohydrological impacts of land use change in the Douglas-Daly River catchment.


Pippa returned from a year as an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development in Thailand (2011), working on the Sustainable Mekong Research Network, with a growing interest in sustainable land use, agriculture, development and its effects on rivers.


Pippa comes to us after several years at CSIRO working on food web dynamics in the freshwater rivers of the Kimberley with emphasis on dietary ecology of turtles. She has a BEnv Sci (Hons) from the University of Canberra and loves all things mountain biking and running.



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Of Australia’s freshwater resource, 60% occurs in north Australia. The Daly catchment in the Northern Territory is largely an intact ecosystem but one earmarked for agricultural development.

Over the last decade, north Australia has been viewed as a potentially exploitable resource, given issues of  salinisation,  soil  acidification,  over-allocation  of  water  resources  and  rainfall  declines  in  south  Australian  agricultural regions. Northern development will involve land use change and water resource implications of such change are largely unknown.

This PhD will focus on this knowledge gap by quantifying the consequences of land use change to the flow of water through vegetation and soil. Water flows from vegetation and soil systems contributes to environment flows, and the maintenance of these flows has been demonstrated to be critical for river health. 

Water use of plantation trees now being grown in industrial-scale monoculture plantations in the Douglas-Daly River catchment will be compared to adjacent land uses (improved pasture, intact savanna). A field measurement program has been designed to parameterise soil-vegetation-atmosphere-transfer (SVAT) models. Model outputs will be used to assess changes to water balance components. Scenario modelling of plantation expansion and climate change can then be examined

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