Darren Ryder

Darren Ryder

Darren Ryder, Australia

Darren Ryder is an Associate Professor of Aquatic Ecology and Restoration in the School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England, Armidale NSW. His research focusses on community and ecosystem ecology, with an emphasis on the study of biodiversity, food web structure and the restoration of landscapes. Darren works closely with the Commonwealth Environment Water Office as part of the Long-Term Intervention Monitoring program for environmental flow assessment, and the Environmental Water Knowledge Research program in the Murray Darling Basin. Darren continues to live and work in regional Australia, and has fostered an ambition to provide a scientific evidence-base for the management of water resources to sustain both ecological and rural communities.

Presentation Title: Food web responses to hydrologic regimes in floodplain rivers

Environmental flows are used to restore elements of the hydrological regime altered by human use of water, yet there is little empirical evidence showing how hydrological regimes interact with river-floodplain trophic dynamics or for incorporating food-web metrics into the monitoring and evaluation of environmental flow programs. The Environmental Water and Knowledge Research (EWKR) program sets out to better understand the links between hydrology and aquatic food-webs to inform the adaptive management of water in the Murray Darling Basin, Australia. We present a model conceptualising how hydrological regimes affect energy production and transfer in river-floodplain systems, and develop a generic framework for incorporating trophic dynamics into monitoring programs to identify the food-web linkages between hydrological regimes and population-level objectives of environmental flows. As part of the EWKR program, we identify key opportunities for further research to enhance the conceptual basis and empirical knowledge underpinning trophic dynamics in river-floodplain systems. An improved understanding of how the hydrologic regime influences spatial and temporal patterns of production and the movement of energy through river-floodplain networks is essential to determine whether the restoration of flow regimes through environmental flows will achieve targeted ecological outcomes for high-order consumers.

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