Monitoring and Research (Flow-MER) Project

Flow-MER is the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office (CEWO) on-ground monitoring, evaluation and research program. The CEWO works in partnership with scientists across the Murray-Darling Basin to help understand how fish, birds, vegetation and river connectivity are responding to environmental watering.

My role in this project continues from LTIM and I wear two hats:

  • Ecosystem Diversity theme leader in the Basin-scale team. The Ecosystem Diversity evaluation identifies the number and types of river, estuary, wetland and floodplain ecosystems that are supported by Commonwealth environmental water in any single year.  It then investigates the pattern of watering which varies from year to year. The results inform other themes within the Flow-MER project that focus on species groups, such as the fish, waterbirds, frogs and vegetation.

Over the 8-year period 2014–22, Commonwealth environmental water has supported 59 different ecosystem types representing 92% of the ecosystem diversity on the managable floodplain that is mapped by the Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) classification of the Basin.

  • I am also the Data Manager responsible for quality assurance and integration of all LTIM and Flow-MER monitoring data in the CEWO’s Monitoring Data Management System (MDMS) database.  This role requires working with data suppliers, researchers and solution providers to maintain data standards and manage data sharing.

Additionally I lead two research projects designed to strengthen understanding of Ecosystem Diversity and inform modelling of environmental water outcomes at the Basin-scale:

  • Understanding the influence of ecosystem condition on resilience. This project seeks to understand how the antecedent condition of ecosystems influences the response to Commonwealth environmental water. For example, do species in drought stressed ecosystems respond differently to those in similar ecosystems that have been managed differently, or where natural environmental conditions are more predictable?
  • Scaling up. A project to explore approaches to refine our evaluation of Basin-scale Ecosystem Diversity to better match the different scales and spatial arrangements at which Commonwealth environmental water is delivered in the Basin. This is intended to help researchers improve the suitability and relevance of advice to water managers.


Lead Delivery Partner: CSIRO

Client: CEWO

More Info:


Waterholes are important refugia when flows stop during summer in Billabong Creek, NSW.
Potamogeton cheesemanii and Myriophyllum crispatum thrive amongst tussocks of cane grass in Moodies Swamp after filling with environmental water.
The Managed Floodplain is the part of the Murray-Darling Basin that can be influenced by environmental water
Gwydir Ramsar Site mapping of the frequency of Commonwealth environmental water use 2014-2021
For the Flow-MER project Shane Brooks extented the Managed Floodplain mapping to include all ANAE wetlands watered 2014-2021
Extent of inundation by Commonwealth environmental water in the Barmah Forest Ramsar Site in 2020-21
Frequency of Commonwealth environmental water use 2014-2021
Diversity of ANAE ecosystem types in valleys of the Murray-Darling Basin from the 2020-21 evaluation by Shane Brooks
Tracking the frequency of Commonwealth environmental water in the Riverland Ramsar Site on the Murray River as part of the Flow-MER Ecosystem Diversity Evalution by Shane Brooks