The complex ecological make-up of Busselton's Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands is the focus of a new booklet launched on Tuesday that summaries a 12-month ecological monitoring project.
A Year on the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands details extensive ecological monitoring, undertaken between March 2017 to March 2018, in the wetlands that is listed as a 'Wetland of International Importance' under the Ramsar Convention.
The study aims to help scientists, community members and managers understand potential impacts on the ecology of the wetlands from increasing seawater inflows to the Vasse Estuary.
Monitoring of the water quality, macroinvertebrates, aquatic plants, fish and waterbirds in the wetlands revealed:
- 8 aquatic plant species (including seagrasses, submerged plants, seaweeds and algae)
- 84 species of macroinvertebrates (such as worms, snails and shrimps)
- 19 species of fish (including Hardyheads, Trumpeter Whiting, Southern Longfin Goby and Bluespot Goby)
- 86 species of water birds (including the Black Winged Stilt, the Australian Shelduck, the Red-Necked Avocet and the Australasian Shoveler).
The ecological monitoring program will continue until 2020 and is a unique collaboration between scientists and managers from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and Murdoch University.
Over the coming months, scientists will analyse and interpret the data collected over the first two years of the program.
Water minister Dave Kelly said the Vasse-Wonnerup wetlands were recognised on a local, state, national and international level for their conservation values and were of high importance to the community.
"The wetlands provide habitat to thousands of Australian and migratory water birds as well as supporting the largest breeding population of black swans in the state," he said.
The study is funded through the Revitalising Geographe Waterways program, which has received an additional $1.6 million funding boost from the State Government through the 2019-20 State Budget.
To download a copy of the booklet, visit rgw.dwer.wa.gov.au