The Integrated Ecological Monitoring study aims to better understand the relationship between seasonal water regime (water quality and water levels) and the ecological values that support waterbirds on the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands.
The Vasse Wonnerup wetlands have significant conservation values and were recognised as wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990. The wetlands often support over 37,000 waterbirds from over 80 different species. Understanding the key variables that support waterbirds (habitat and food) and the impact of changing the water regime on those variables is critical for the future management of the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands.
The project brings together scientists from Murdoch University and the Departments of Water and Environmental Regulation and Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in a collaborative effort to study the relationship between the different variables across a range of habitats within the wetland system.
The study includes seasonal monitoring of waterbirds, their food sources (aquatic plants, benthic macroinvertebrates and fish) and water regime (water levels and water quality). Monitoring is undertaken within five habitat zones across the Vasse Wonnerup wetland system (Upper Vasse estuary, lower Vasse estuary, Wonnerup Inlet, lower Wonnerup estuary and upper Wonnerup estuary). The study commenced in March 2017 and will be completed in June 2020. In September 2019, Water Minister Dave Kelly released the report A Year on the Vasse-Wonnerup Wetlands – An Ecological Snapshot.
The snapshot improves our knowledge of the physical and ecological characteristics of the wetlands and identifies critical habitats and/or food sources for waterbirds utilising the wetlands. It can also be used in reviewing surge barrier operations and informing the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands Operational Plan.