The dependence of coastal ecosystems on groundwater in subtropical areas and the susceptibility of these systems to climate variability, sea level variation and potential saltwater intrusion is poorly understood. Many coastal aquifers in Southeast Queensland that sustain groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) have encountered continuous declines in water levels throughout the last 15 years. 

Understanding the connection of GDEs with freshwater aquifers and the long-term availability of groundwater is critical to understanding the susceptibility of coastal GDEs and the buffering capacity of these aquifers against reduced water availability. 

This project will identify and characterise GDEs that are vulnerable to climatic variability and sea level rise, providing an estimate of ecosystem thresholds to ultimately describe early warning signs of change. We aim to produce a data derived conceptualisation of subtropical coastal GDE function, quantifying the capacity of aquifers to maintain ecosystem function to allow for informed planning decisions on mitigating biodiversity loss in these vulnerable ecosystems.

Advisory Team: Professor Patrick Moss, Dr Harald Hofmann

Funding: Research Training Program

Project members

Maddy DYRING

PhD Candidate