The issue of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) has become increasingly a part of common discourse, as governments, communities and organisations are becoming aware of the importance of monitoring the status of GDEs for their management and long-term sustainability. GDEs are ecosystems whose current structure and function rely on the presence of a groundwater supply, either perpetually or periodically, such that a significant change in plant function is observable if this supply is removed for a sufficient period of time.
Groundwater is used widely in arid and semi-arid climates in Australia, ranging from agricultural uses (e.g. irrigation), to industry (e.g. mining), to human use (e.g. drinking water), to use in the natural environment (GDEs). As such, it is crucial to monitor the level and quality of this water, and to remain vigilant about the shared need for these resources.
Many organisations conduct research into the ecophysiological responses of vegetation, in particular trees, to the extraction of groundwater in order to determine a baseline from which changes can be observed over time. Such research includes the use of dendrometers and sap flow meters, measurement of Leaf Area Index (LAI), comparison of the stable isotope composition of water in the xylem and the water table, determination of the root depth of trees with regards to the water table, and calculation of leaf water potential and water balance. Consultants subsequently use a subset of these tools to monitor the ecophysiological responses of vegetation over time, often many years.
ICT international is familiar with many GDE monitoring studies. For many years, ICT International has advised and supplied instrumentation to consultants and scientists who have been undertaking such projects.
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