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Water and its management has become one of the key environmental issues in Australia. Many of our arid zone rivers, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin are severely affected by overextraction, impacting on floodplains and their biodiversity. The interaction between policy and science is critical to the development of long-term initiatives for the sustainability of rivers and their dependent wetlands and biota. The power and influence of policy functions of conservation bureaucracies is contrasted with the importance of scientific information but relative ineffectiveness of science. I examine interactions and their effectiveness by focusing on case studies where major policy shifts have occurred in favour of conservation on arid zone river systems. Science and the media have played a prominent role, along with useful alliances. For scientists, there are major challenges besides doing the research to be effective. Engagement in the policy and public discussion, sometimes using the media, is important.

Arthington, A. H., Balcombe, S. R., Wilson, G. A., Thoms, M. C. and Marshall, J. 2005. Spatial and temporal variation in fish-assemblage structure in isolated waterholes during the 2001 dry season of an arid-zone floodplain river, Cooper Creek, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 25-35.
Arthington, A. H. and Pusey, B. J. 2003. Flow restoration and protection in Australian rivers. River Research and Applications 19, 377-395.
Barendregt, A., Wassen, M. J. and Schot, P. P. 1995. Hydrological systems beyond a nature reserve, the major problem in wetland conservation of Naardermeer (the Netherlands). Biological Conservation 72, 393-405.
Bren, L. J. 1992. Tree Invasion of an Intermittent Wetland in Relation to Changes in the Flooding Frequency of the River Murray, Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 17, 395-408.
Bunn, S. E., Davies, P. M. and Winning, M. 2003. Sources of organic carbon supporting the food web of an arid zone floodplain river. Freshwater Biology 48, 619-635.
Capon, S. 2003. Plant community responses to wetting and drying in a large arid floodplain: Cooper Creek. Rivers Research and Applications 19, 509-520.
Crabb, P. 1997. Murray-Darling Basin Resources. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra 300pp
Gehrke, P. C., Brown, P., Schiller, C. B., Moffatt, D. B. and Bruce, A. M. 1995. River regulation and fish communities in the Murray-Darling River system, Australia. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 11, 363-375.
Jenkins, K. M. and Boulton, A. J. 2003. Connectivity in a dryland river: short-term aquatic microinvertebrate recruitment following floodplain inundation. Ecology 84, 2708-2723.
Kingsford, R. T. 1999a. Managing the water of the Border Rivers in Australia: irrigation, Government and the wetland environment. Wetlands Ecology and Management 7, 25-35.
Kingsford, R. T. 1999b. Social and economic costs and benefits of taking water from our rivers: the Macquarie Marshes as a test case. In “Preserving Rural Australia: Issues and solutions”. Robertson, A. I. and Watts, R. J. (Eds). CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 125-143.
Kingsford, R. T. 2000a. Review: Ecological impacts of dams, water diversions and river management on floodplain wetlands in Australia. Austral Ecology 25, 109-127.
Kingsford, R. T. 2000b. Protecting or pumping rivers in arid regions of the world? Hydrobiologia 427, 1-11.
Kingsford, R. T. 2003. Social, institutional and economic drivers for water resource development - case study of the Murrumbidgee River, Australia. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 6, 69-79.
Kingsford, R. T. 2004. Waterbirds and wetlands of the Darling River: ‘A wide river with pelicans and other wildfowl’ (Sturt 1829). In The Darling. Breckwoldt, R., Boden, R., Andrew, J. (eds), pp. 234-259. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.
Kingsford, R. T. and Porter, J. L. 1993. Waterbirds of Lake Eyre. Biological Conservation 65 141-151.
Kingsford, R. T. and Porter, J. L. 1994. Waterbirds on an Adjacent Freshwater Lake and Salt Lake in Arid Australia. Biological Conservation 69, 219-228.
Kingsford, R. T. and Auld, K. M. 2005. Waterbird breeding and environmental flow management in the Macquarie Marshes, arid Australia. Rivers Research and Applications 21, 187-200.
Kingsford, R. T. and Johnson, W. J. 1998. The impact of water diversions on colonially nesting waterbirds in the Macquarie Marshes in arid Australia. Colonial Waterbirds 21, 159-170.
Kingsford, R. T., Boulton, A. J. and Puckridge, J. T. 1998. Challenges in managing dryland rivers crossing political boundaries: lessons from Cooper Creek and the Paroo River, central Australia. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 8, 361-378.
Kingsford, R. T., Curtin, A. L. and Porter, J. 1999. Water flows on Cooper Creek in arid Australia determine ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ periods for waterbirds. Biological Conservation 88, 231-248.
Kingsford, R. T., Thomas, R. F. and Curtin, A. L. 2001. Conservation of wetlands in the Paroo and Warrego catchments in arid Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology 7, 21-33.
Kingsford, R. T. and Thomas, R. F. 2002. Use of satellite image analysis to track wetland loss on the Murrumbidgee River floodplain in arid Australia, 1975-1998. Water Science and Technology 45, 45-53.
Kingsford, R. T. and Thomas, R. F. 2004. Destruction of wetlands and waterbird populations by dams and irrigation on the Murrumbidgee River in arid Australia. Environmental Management 34, 383-396.
Kingsford, R. T., Brandis, K., Thomas, R. F., Crighton, P., Knowles, E. and Gale, E. 2004a. Distribution and conservation of wetlands in New South Wales, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 55, 17-31.
Kingsford, R. T., Jenkins, K. M. and Porter, J. L. 2004b. Imposed hydrological stability imposed on lakes in arid Australia and effects on waterbirds. Ecology 85, 2478-2492.
Kingsford, R. T. and Auld, K. M. 2005. Waterbird breeding and environmental flow management in the Macquarie Marshes, arid Australia. Rivers Research and Applications 21, 187-200.
Leslie, D. J. 2001. Effect of river management on colonially-nesting waterbirds in the Barmah-Millewa forest, south-eastern Australia. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 17, 21-36.
Lloyd, C. J. 1988. Either drought or plenty. Water development and management in New South Wales. Department of Water Resources, Southwood Press, Sydney 309pp
Meffe, G. K. and Viederman, S. 1995. Combining science and policy in conservation biology. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23 (3):327-332.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.
Morrish, B. 2005. The protection of Cooper's Creek. Freshwater Protected Areas: New and existing tools for conserving freshwater ecosystems in Australia. A national conference 27-28 September 2004, pp 91-98. University of Sydney, Sydney.
National Land and Water Resources Audit. 2001 Australian Water Resources Assessment 2000, edn. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Poff, N. L., Allan, J. D., Palmer, M. A. Hart, D, D. Richter, B. D. Arthington, A. H., Meyer, J. L., Stanford, J. A., Rogers K, H. 2003. River Flows and Water Wars: Emerging Science for Environmental Decision-making. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1, 298-306.
Puckridge, J. T., Sheldon, F., Walker, K. F. and Boulton, A. J. 1998. Flow variability and the ecology of arid zone rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 49, 55-72.
Puckridge, J. T., Walker, K. F. and Costelloe, J. F. 2000. Hydrological persistence and the ecology of dryland rivers. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 16, 385-402.
Robertson, A. I., Bunn, S. E., Boon, P. I. and Walker, K. F. 1999. Sources, sinks and transformation of organic carbon in Australian floodplain rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 50, 813-29.
Roshier, D. A., Whetton, P. H., Allan, R. J. and Robertson, A. I. 2001. Distribution and persistence of temporary wetland habitats in arid Australia in relation to climate. Austral Ecology 26, 371-384.
Simpson, R., Petroeschevsky, A. and Lowe, I. 2000. An ecological footprint analysis for Australia. Australian Journal of Environmental Management 7, 11-18.
Stafford Smith, D. M. and Morton, S. R. 1990. A framework for the ecology of arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 18, 255-278.
State of the Environment. 2001 Australia State of the Environment. Independent Report to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Environment Australia, CSIRO Publishing.
Thoms, M. C. 2003. Floodplain-river ecosystems: lateral connections and the implications of human interference. Geomorphology 56, 335-349.
Timms, B. V. 2001. Large freshwater lakes in arid Australia: A review of their limnology and threats to their future. Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management 6, 183-196.
Walters, C., Korman, J., Stevens, L. E. and Gold, B. 2000. Ecosystem modeling for evaluation of adaptive management policies in the Grand Canyon. Conservation Ecology 4, 1[online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol4/iss2/art1
Walters, C. J. and Holling, C. S. 1990. Large-scale management experiments and learning by doing. Ecology 71, 2060-2068.
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References

Arthington, A. H., Balcombe, S. R., Wilson, G. A., Thoms, M. C. and Marshall, J. 2005. Spatial and temporal variation in fish-assemblage structure in isolated waterholes during the 2001 dry season of an arid-zone floodplain river, Cooper Creek, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 56, 25-35.
Arthington, A. H. and Pusey, B. J. 2003. Flow restoration and protection in Australian rivers. River Research and Applications 19, 377-395.
Barendregt, A., Wassen, M. J. and Schot, P. P. 1995. Hydrological systems beyond a nature reserve, the major problem in wetland conservation of Naardermeer (the Netherlands). Biological Conservation 72, 393-405.
Bren, L. J. 1992. Tree Invasion of an Intermittent Wetland in Relation to Changes in the Flooding Frequency of the River Murray, Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 17, 395-408.
Bunn, S. E., Davies, P. M. and Winning, M. 2003. Sources of organic carbon supporting the food web of an arid zone floodplain river. Freshwater Biology 48, 619-635.
Capon, S. 2003. Plant community responses to wetting and drying in a large arid floodplain: Cooper Creek. Rivers Research and Applications 19, 509-520.
Crabb, P. 1997. Murray-Darling Basin Resources. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra 300pp
Gehrke, P. C., Brown, P., Schiller, C. B., Moffatt, D. B. and Bruce, A. M. 1995. River regulation and fish communities in the Murray-Darling River system, Australia. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 11, 363-375.
Jenkins, K. M. and Boulton, A. J. 2003. Connectivity in a dryland river: short-term aquatic microinvertebrate recruitment following floodplain inundation. Ecology 84, 2708-2723.
Kingsford, R. T. 1999a. Managing the water of the Border Rivers in Australia: irrigation, Government and the wetland environment. Wetlands Ecology and Management 7, 25-35.
Kingsford, R. T. 1999b. Social and economic costs and benefits of taking water from our rivers: the Macquarie Marshes as a test case. In “Preserving Rural Australia: Issues and solutions”. Robertson, A. I. and Watts, R. J. (Eds). CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 125-143.
Kingsford, R. T. 2000a. Review: Ecological impacts of dams, water diversions and river management on floodplain wetlands in Australia. Austral Ecology 25, 109-127.
Kingsford, R. T. 2000b. Protecting or pumping rivers in arid regions of the world? Hydrobiologia 427, 1-11.
Kingsford, R. T. 2003. Social, institutional and economic drivers for water resource development - case study of the Murrumbidgee River, Australia. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management 6, 69-79.
Kingsford, R. T. 2004. Waterbirds and wetlands of the Darling River: ‘A wide river with pelicans and other wildfowl’ (Sturt 1829). In The Darling. Breckwoldt, R., Boden, R., Andrew, J. (eds), pp. 234-259. Murray-Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.
Kingsford, R. T. and Porter, J. L. 1993. Waterbirds of Lake Eyre. Biological Conservation 65 141-151.
Kingsford, R. T. and Porter, J. L. 1994. Waterbirds on an Adjacent Freshwater Lake and Salt Lake in Arid Australia. Biological Conservation 69, 219-228.
Kingsford, R. T. and Auld, K. M. 2005. Waterbird breeding and environmental flow management in the Macquarie Marshes, arid Australia. Rivers Research and Applications 21, 187-200.
Kingsford, R. T. and Johnson, W. J. 1998. The impact of water diversions on colonially nesting waterbirds in the Macquarie Marshes in arid Australia. Colonial Waterbirds 21, 159-170.
Kingsford, R. T., Boulton, A. J. and Puckridge, J. T. 1998. Challenges in managing dryland rivers crossing political boundaries: lessons from Cooper Creek and the Paroo River, central Australia. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 8, 361-378.
Kingsford, R. T., Curtin, A. L. and Porter, J. 1999. Water flows on Cooper Creek in arid Australia determine ‘boom’ and ‘bust’ periods for waterbirds. Biological Conservation 88, 231-248.
Kingsford, R. T., Thomas, R. F. and Curtin, A. L. 2001. Conservation of wetlands in the Paroo and Warrego catchments in arid Australia. Pacific Conservation Biology 7, 21-33.
Kingsford, R. T. and Thomas, R. F. 2002. Use of satellite image analysis to track wetland loss on the Murrumbidgee River floodplain in arid Australia, 1975-1998. Water Science and Technology 45, 45-53.
Kingsford, R. T. and Thomas, R. F. 2004. Destruction of wetlands and waterbird populations by dams and irrigation on the Murrumbidgee River in arid Australia. Environmental Management 34, 383-396.
Kingsford, R. T., Brandis, K., Thomas, R. F., Crighton, P., Knowles, E. and Gale, E. 2004a. Distribution and conservation of wetlands in New South Wales, Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 55, 17-31.
Kingsford, R. T., Jenkins, K. M. and Porter, J. L. 2004b. Imposed hydrological stability imposed on lakes in arid Australia and effects on waterbirds. Ecology 85, 2478-2492.
Kingsford, R. T. and Auld, K. M. 2005. Waterbird breeding and environmental flow management in the Macquarie Marshes, arid Australia. Rivers Research and Applications 21, 187-200.
Leslie, D. J. 2001. Effect of river management on colonially-nesting waterbirds in the Barmah-Millewa forest, south-eastern Australia. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 17, 21-36.
Lloyd, C. J. 1988. Either drought or plenty. Water development and management in New South Wales. Department of Water Resources, Southwood Press, Sydney 309pp
Meffe, G. K. and Viederman, S. 1995. Combining science and policy in conservation biology. Wildlife Society Bulletin 23 (3):327-332.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.
Morrish, B. 2005. The protection of Cooper's Creek. Freshwater Protected Areas: New and existing tools for conserving freshwater ecosystems in Australia. A national conference 27-28 September 2004, pp 91-98. University of Sydney, Sydney.
National Land and Water Resources Audit. 2001 Australian Water Resources Assessment 2000, edn. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Poff, N. L., Allan, J. D., Palmer, M. A. Hart, D, D. Richter, B. D. Arthington, A. H., Meyer, J. L., Stanford, J. A., Rogers K, H. 2003. River Flows and Water Wars: Emerging Science for Environmental Decision-making. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1, 298-306.
Puckridge, J. T., Sheldon, F., Walker, K. F. and Boulton, A. J. 1998. Flow variability and the ecology of arid zone rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 49, 55-72.
Puckridge, J. T., Walker, K. F. and Costelloe, J. F. 2000. Hydrological persistence and the ecology of dryland rivers. Regulated Rivers: Research and Management 16, 385-402.
Robertson, A. I., Bunn, S. E., Boon, P. I. and Walker, K. F. 1999. Sources, sinks and transformation of organic carbon in Australian floodplain rivers. Marine and Freshwater Research 50, 813-29.
Roshier, D. A., Whetton, P. H., Allan, R. J. and Robertson, A. I. 2001. Distribution and persistence of temporary wetland habitats in arid Australia in relation to climate. Austral Ecology 26, 371-384.
Simpson, R., Petroeschevsky, A. and Lowe, I. 2000. An ecological footprint analysis for Australia. Australian Journal of Environmental Management 7, 11-18.
Stafford Smith, D. M. and Morton, S. R. 1990. A framework for the ecology of arid Australia. Journal of Arid Environments 18, 255-278.
State of the Environment. 2001 Australia State of the Environment. Independent Report to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage. Environment Australia, CSIRO Publishing.
Thoms, M. C. 2003. Floodplain-river ecosystems: lateral connections and the implications of human interference. Geomorphology 56, 335-349.
Timms, B. V. 2001. Large freshwater lakes in arid Australia: A review of their limnology and threats to their future. Lakes & Reservoirs: Research and Management 6, 183-196.
Walters, C., Korman, J., Stevens, L. E. and Gold, B. 2000. Ecosystem modeling for evaluation of adaptive management policies in the Grand Canyon. Conservation Ecology 4, 1[online] URL: http://www.consecol.org/vol4/iss2/art1
Walters, C. J. and Holling, C. S. 1990. Large-scale management experiments and learning by doing. Ecology 71, 2060-2068.
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