Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Coorong

CLLAMMecology: A whole-of-system approach to plan management intervention in the Coorong

The Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMMecology) Research Cluster evaluates water management options for the region, to secure and sustain the health of the estuary.

  • 8 July 2011 | Updated 29 May 2013

In this article

  1. Cluster overview
  2. Cluster publications

Cluster overview

Page 1 of 2

Improving water benefits

The Coorong and Murray Mouth region is one of the best habitats for waterbirds in Australia. However, following a decade of low to no River Murray inflows, the region is now degraded, with significant declines in fish and bird numbers.

The CLLAMMecology project has developed a two-step approach to help plan future management interventions to rehabilitate this region. 

The first step of this approach is to evaluate future climate and management intervention scenarios using a hydrodynamic model to predict future water level and salinity regimes, the two key ecosystem drivers in this region. 

These water level and salinity predictions can be made for the length of the Coorong (~110 km) at decadal or longer time-scales as a function of River Murray discharge over the Lower Lakes barrages, connection to the sea via the Murray Mouth, and Upper South East Drainage discharge. 

This hydrodynamic model is practical to use because it can be directly incorporated into existing models forecasting River Murray discharge over the Lower Lakes barrages.

The second step of the approach is to evaluate ecological responses to changes in water level and salinity. Several tools have been developed, including models that evaluate the change in the distribution of key fish and bird species, of key habitats (such as mudflats), or of whole ecosystems.

An overview of the outputs from the project and their potential applications are presented in the final summary report. These tools are now available to help plan management intervention in the region.

Final report

The final report is now available:

Brookes JD, Lamontagne S, Aldridge KT, Benger S, Bissett A, Bucater L, Cheshire AC, Cook PLM, Deegan BM, Dittmann S, Fairweather PG, Fernandes MB, Ford PW, Geddes MC, Gillanders BM, Grigg NJ, Haese RR, Krull E, Langley RA, Lester RE, Loo M, Munro AR, Noell CJ, Nayar S, Paton DC, Revill AT, Rogers DJ, Rolston A, Sharma SK, Short DA, Tanner JE, Webster IT, Wellman NR, Ye Q. 2009. Ecosystem Assessment Framework to Guide Management of the Coorong. Final Report of the CLLAMMecology Research Cluster. CSIRO: Water for a Healthy Country National Research Flagship, Canberra. [external link, PDF 6.3 MB]

Projects

The decision-support management framework developed by the Cluster has been delivered through four linked research themes:

Key species responses: how water management influences biodiversity in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMM)

This project involved mapping the responses of key species to changes in aquatic environments and water management regimes in the Coorong region of South Australia.

Sustaining food webs within the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region

This project delivered information and models that can be used to investigate the effects of river flows on the production and use of organic matter at the ecosystem level in the Coorong and Murray Mouth region.

Dynamic habitat of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMM)

This project delivered dynamic habitat maps and models that can be used to investigate the effects of river flows on key plant and animal species in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMM) region of South Australia.

The future of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMM)

This CLLAMMecology Cluster project provided a window on alternate futures of the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth (CLLAMM) region, with models informed by research into key species, food webs and habitat.

Collaboration funding

The partnership received A$2.2 million from the CSIRO Collaboration Fund with partner contributions taking the total investment to A$5.3 million over three years.

Partners in world-class research

Our research partners include:

Management agencies supporting the program include the:

Geoscience Australia [external link]Land & Water Australia [external link] and the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation [external link] have also provided funding and research collaboration, including the following work:

Nutrient sources and sinks in the Coorong

Geoscience Australia and the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Ecology Research Cluster (CLLAMMecology) have established a partnership to investigate nutrient sources and sinks in the Coorong in South Australia.

Research into the Lower Lakes as a food source for the Coorong and Murray Mouth

Land and Water Australia and the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth Ecology Research Cluster (CLLAMMEcology) have established a partnership to investigate the role of the Lower Lakes as a food source for the Coorong and Murray Mouth in South Australia.

To read the final fact sheet summarising the work, go to CLLAMMecology Research Cluster Brochure July 2009.

Logos of the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, South Australian Research and Development Institute and the Department of Environment & Heritage (SA).