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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Adaptation Tipping Points of a Wetland under a Drying Climate

Department of Civil, Environmental & Mining Engineering, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, M051, Perth 6009 WA, Australia
Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), Clayton 3800 VIC, Australia
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, M004, Perth 6009 WA, Australia
Department of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark
UNESCO-IHE, Westvest 7, 2611 AX Delft, The Netherlands
School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Perth 6009 WA, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(2), 234;
Received: 12 January 2018 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 20 February 2018 / Published: 24 February 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sponge Cities: Emerging Approaches, Challenges and Opportunities)
Wetlands experience considerable alteration to their hydrology, which typically contributes to a decline in their overall ecological integrity. Wetland management strategies aim to repair wetland hydrology and attenuate wetland loss that is associated with climate change. However, decision makers often lack the data needed to support complex social environmental systems models, making it difficult to assess the effectiveness of current or past practices. Adaptation Tipping Points (ATPs) is a policy-oriented method that can be useful in these situations. Here, a modified ATP framework is presented to assess the suitability of ecosystem management when rigorous ecological data are lacking. We define the effectiveness of the wetland management strategy by its ability to maintain sustainable minimum water levels that are required to support ecological processes. These minimum water requirements are defined in water management and environmental policy of the wetland. Here, we trial the method on Forrestdale Lake, a wetland in a region experiencing a markedly drying climate. ATPs were defined by linking key ecological objectives identified by policy documents to threshold values for water depth. We then used long-term hydrologic data (1978–2012) to assess if and when thresholds were breached. We found that from the mid-1990s, declining wetland water depth breached ATPs for the majority of the wetland objectives. We conclude that the wetland management strategy has been ineffective from the mid-1990s, when the region’s climate dried markedly. The extent of legislation, policies, and management authorities across different scales and levels of governance need to be understood to adapt ecosystem management strategies. Empirical verification of the ATP assessment is required to validate the suitability of the method. However, in general we consider ATPs to be a useful desktop method to assess the suitability of management when rigorous ecological data are lacking. View Full-Text
Keywords: ecosystem; wetland; adaptation tipping points; climate change; management strategy ecosystem; wetland; adaptation tipping points; climate change; management strategy
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Nanda, A.; Beesley, L.; Locatelli, L.; Gersonius, B.; Hipsey, M.R.; Ghadouani, A. Adaptation Tipping Points of a Wetland under a Drying Climate. Water 2018, 10, 234.

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