Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) are ecosystems that are partially or completely dependent on underground water for their existence or health. When groundwater is close to the surface, plant roots can access it as a steady water supply so they can thrive in times of low rainfall.
The plants then support the animal communities. When groundwater discharges to the surface it supports wetland and stream ecosystems. Underwater springs at the coast and in estuaries can provide nutrients for sea grasses and aquatic species. There are even some animal species that only live underground in the groundwater system aquifers.
In addition to the intrinsic importance of maintaining the biodiversity of GDEs, they provide important resources for rural lifestyle. GDEs support fishing, bird watching, and other recreation. The locations of GDEs provide valuable insight to the hydrologic system within catchments and understanding GDEs is important to water resource, environmental, and agricultural management.
A digital representation of potential Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem (Condah Drain) showing levels of species tolerance