The impacts of declining water levels on stygofauna communities

Supporting Document 5 from the NCCARF project ‘Adapting to climate change: a risk assessment and decision making framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels'.


Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDE’s) are intrinsically connected to rainfall and groundwater for survival. Many ecosystems are becoming increasingly threatened due to the accelerating pressures of climate change and disturbances to connecting ecosystems. This thesis examined the structural changes of the Threatened Ecological Communities (TEC’s) living within the GDE of Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge (LNR) and Yanchep, Western Australia, as well as water quality of each of these cave systems. Multidimensional scaling, Simper analysis and BIOENV techniques were used to characterize and compare water quality, quantity and community structure. It was found that each cave contained a distinct faunal community contribution and that three caves of LNR were distinct in their ionic compositions. Factors that may have contributed to the biological and physical differentiation of these caves include the extensive evolutionary and hydrogeological development of each cave. Threats to cave systems were also identified, including climate change induced rainfall decline and anthropogenic stressors. Finally, management strategies for future conservation were suggested. Overall, reduced groundwater levels induced by rainfall decline seemed to have an important effect on cave TEC. 

Please cite this report as:
Chilcott, S 2013, Adapting to climate change: A risk assessment and decision making framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels. Supporting document 5: The impact of declining groundwater levels on stygofauna communities in the Leeuwin Naturaliste Ridge Cave systems, Western Australia, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 75 pp.

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Cover image: © Lake Cave, Margaret River region, Western Australia. Lindsay Hatcher, Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association



Detailed Descriptions
Geographic and Temporal Extents
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Attributions and Constraints
Stacey Chilcott