Groundwater Videos

Professor Andrew Boulton: Deeper meanings? Integrating river ecology and groundwater linkages

Presented by: Professor Andrew Boulton

Professor Andrew Boulton was the Australian National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training's 2013 Distinguished Lecturer.

In recent years, river ecologists have made several significant conceptual advances that have changed the way we view river ecosystems and how they work. In this talk, Andrew will review these conceptual advances and their implications for our understanding of river water – groundwater interactions.

We know that zones where river water exchanges with groundwater are biological ‘powerhouses’ where nutrients are recycled, microbial activity is intense, and ecosystem services such as water filtration and storage occur. But how are these zones affected by human activities in the catchment or channel? What are the cumulative contributions from these zones to surface water quality along a river network? And what happens to ‘river health’ when we change the movements or quality of shallow alluvial groundwater?

Our sustainable use of rivers and protection of their ecosystem services relies on understanding ecological processes in the zones where river water exchanges with groundwater, especially how resilient these
processes are to natural and human disturbance. To achieve this ‘deeper meaning’, we must better link recent concepts in river ecology with current research on hydrogeology, geomorphology and social science.

Andrew Boulton is an Adjunct Professor at the University of New England and has worked on river and groundwater ecology for over 25 years in Australia, New Zealand, France and the United States. He has co-written two textbooks on freshwater ecology and over 120 peer-reviewed papers, some of which have been heavily cited.

Andrew is particularly interested in how recent conceptual advances in ecology can be used to guide wiser management of river ecosystems, especially in the highly variable Australian landscape.