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Adaptation to Climate Change

Subterranean Hydrology Surveys

Subterranean Ecology is proactive in research and development of practical solutions and adaptation to climate change.

Our work is currently focused in southwest Western Australia where reduced rainfall experienced since the mid 1970’s has contributed to declining groundwater resources which threatens the survival of Subterranean Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (SGDEs). 

In collaborative partnerships with Murdoch University, Department of Environment & Conservation, and the Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association  (AMRTA) - supported by grants from the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) and Natural Resource Management (NRM) Grant Scheme - we are spearheading research and adaptation to climate change for SGDEs in southwest Western Australia.  
Subterranean Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (SGDEs) in the Margaret River and Perth regions of southwest Western Australia are threatened by loss of aquatic habitat resulting from declining groundwater levels and reduced stream flows experienced during the previous few decades, and particularly during the past decade. The main cause of the water decline is reduced rainfall experienced in southwest Western Australia since the mid 1970’s, although other anthropogenic stressors, including tree plantations and groundwater pumping are involved in some catchments.

Climate modelling attributes part of the reduced rainfall trend to atmospheric greenhouse gases, and predicts the drying trend will increase over coming decades.
The SGDEs threatened by climate change comprise species and ecological communities of stygofauna.  Some of the stygofauna species and communities are associated with the roots of trees submerged in cave pools and streams, which provide a food source and habitat. 
Subterranean Fauna Surveys

These aquatic root mat communities occur in limestone caves in the Margaret River and Perth regions, and elsewhere in Australia. In southwest Western Australia, these threatened ecological communities (TECs) are listed as critically endangered under the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Most known occurrences of aquatic root mat communities in the caves of the Margaret River and Perth regions have disappeared in the last few years, including in Lake Cave, Jewel Cave and Easter Cave, where several locally endemic species of stygofauna are likely to become extinct if intervention to recover water levels is not undertaken. Click here to access the NCCARF reports.