Wetlands in Drylands

Wetlands in Drylands

Magpie geese in lagoon on Macquarie Marshes

Magpie geese in a lagoon of the Macquarie Marshes, NSW, Australia (Tim Ralph).

Impact Summary

'Wetlands in drylands' sounds like a contradiction, but many semi-arid and arid landscapes (drylands) around the world host rivers, shallow lakes, marshes, swamps, and various periodically wet areas that provide critical ecosystem services.

Our researchers engage with collaborators and communities widely across Australia, southern Africa, the Americas and Europe to understand why these wetlands are so important, how they function, and what threatens them. We also examine how an improved understanding of rivers and wetlands can be translated to support and enhance their conservation and management.

We also convene and participate in workshops and a range of on-ground and online activities to facilitate communciation of novel ideas and findings, and to kick-start and maintain collaborative and interdisciplinary partnerships and projects. Much of this is done in conjunction with other members of the international Wetlands in Drylands Research Network.

Wetlands in Drylands Research

The Okavango River and its wetlands sit within the drylands of the Kalahari Desert, Botswana (Tim Ralph).

Impact Leaders

Tim Ralph

Tim Ralph
Macquarie University
Zacc Larkin Zacc Larkin
Macquarie University
Paul Hesse Paul Hesse
Assoc Professor
Macquarie University
Kirstie Fryirs Kirstie Fryirs
Macquarie University


  • State Government Agencies
  • Australian Commonwealth Government
  • Government
  • Community-based conservation and environmental management groups
  • Local land service agencies and communities
  • Secondary school and university students

Countries where impact occurred

World map of wetlands-drylands impact

Key collaborators and end-users

Research associated with impact

The research seeks to document and quantify river and wetland forms and processes, water quality and aquatic ecosystem functions, and geoecological responses to human disturbance. This helps with interpretation of long-term landscape evolution, and assessment of the hazards and risks of future pressures on wetlands in drylands.

This work is published individually or collaboratively in peer-reviewed journals and books, and is translated into outreach and media articles, secondary school review papers, and booklets and pamphlets to enhance dissemination and uptake in government agencies and local communities.

The research is often targeted towards and applied by partners and end-users who use the improved understanding of hydrology, geomorphology and ecology in wetlands in drylands to assist water and wetland decision-making, inform conservation and management planning, and to engage with local communities on a spectrum of environmental issues.

Key contributions to environmental conservation, management and planning include inputs to:

Related outputs from the Wetlands in Drylands Research Network include:

References and further reading

Understanding and management of wetlands in drylands

Geomorphology of wetlands in drylands

Long-term river and wetland change in drylands

Aquatic ecosystem function of wetlands in drylands

Conference proceedings and blogs

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