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Keywords:

  • freshwater ecology;
  • palaeoecology;
  • historical studies;
  • ecological modelling;
  • benchmarking

Abstract

Temporal variability at extra-annual scales is typically a feature of freshwater ecosystems, particularly in places like Australia where the climate is highly unpredictable and where recent anthropogenic changes have been dramatic. Accounting for this variability when studying freshwater systems is generally not possible if freshwater ecologists rely solely on measurements carried out in the course of studies that rarely exceed a few years in length. Alternative methods can be used to extend temporal perspective; however, we argue these are under-utilised in river ecology. This paper outlines approaches for extending temporal perspective (historical studies, palaeolimnological studies and modelling) and illustrates, using pertinent examples, areas of river ecology where we believe they can be of particular use. We conclude with some suggestions for ways in which cooperation between relevant disciplines can be enhanced. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.