Predicting patterns of biodiversity with hydrodynamics in the Alligator Rivers estuaries of the Northern Territory Australia

Predicting patterns of biodiversity with hydrodynamics in the Alligator Rivers estuaries of the Northern Territory Australia

Thu, 31/07/2014 - 12:00 to 13:00

About the Presenter

David Williams is a coastal oceanographer with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS, Darwin Office). He is based at the Arafura Timor Seas Research Facility in Darwin, Northern Territory Australia. David has been working in the tropical macro tidal environment of northern Australia for over 30 years. David’s main research interests are in the use of acoustics to measure and describe macro tidal flows in estuaries and the coastal environment and to describe the links between hydrodynamics, geomorphology and water quality. He has a keen interest in sediment transport and working collaboratively with scientists and engineers in using field observations to improve numerical models.


North Australia Research Unit (NARU) - ANU
23 Ellengowan Drive, Brinkin
NARU seminar room
Casuarina NT 0810

The Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory is an example of mostly pristine macro tidal estuaries. The South Alligator river and estuary system is completely contained within the world heritage listed Kakadu National Park and the East Alligator is contained within the Aboriginal owned lands of western Arnhem Land. Biodiversity and cultural heritage are important aspects of this landscape that people, both indigenous and non-indigenous are working together to preserve. The estuarine systems are dominated by seasonal monsoons and highly turbid fast flowing currents. The processes driven by the high tidal flows and sediment concentrations form unique geomorphological features that have not been adequately described. These features also create break points in system energy influencing the distribution of biodiversity during high flow wet season periods. The question being asked is can patterns of geomorphology and biodiversity be predicted with the use of hydrodynamic, sediment, water quality models? The unique geomorphic features that exist are found to be reliant on the balance between tidal and fluvial energy that are have strong seasonal differences. A combination of observations and modelling are used to describe how the physics of the system controls geomorphology and the aquatic biodiversity. These models can be used to predict the impacts of a range of coastal changes, land use and sea level change scenarios.

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