Role of palaeoecology in describing the ecological character of wetlands

C. Max Finlayson, Stewart J. Clarke, Nick C. Davidson, Peter Gell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


While it is acknowledged that changes in the condition of a wetland can be detected through contemporary monitoring programs, this paper explores the extent to which palaeoecological approaches can be used in concert with contemporary techniques to understand benchmark conditions, rates and direction of change. This is done within the context of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands that addresses the conservation of internationally important wetlands and the wise use of all wetlands. Over time the Convention has adopted a considerable body of guidance on detecting, reporting and responding to change in ecological character. In recognition that there remain gaps in available guidance on ecological character the Convention has requested further advice on the determination of appropriate reference conditions for assessing change and establishing the range of natural variability of wetlands. As palaeoecological approaches provide a ready means of considering the trajectories of change, and the nature and drivers of change over time, they can assist in qualifying established ecological descriptions. They can also help understand the timing and nature of any departure from normal conditions, and provide early warnings of future change, especially when integrated with contemporary monitoring and modelling. Journal compilation

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-694
Number of pages8
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number6
Early online dateNov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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