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Environmental flows have been traditionally determined from comparison of reference conditions, either in the same river prior to regulation, or to a reference river under similar climatic conditions. Given the large changes that rivers have been experiencing under river management, regulation and with climate change, a more quantitative assemement of impacts on river flows and ecology is called for. In large rivers with large floodplains it is important to model the spatial and temporal nature of river flows and floods. Modelling ecosystem response to changes in hydrology using spatially and temporally explicit models provides a detailed tool for prediction of managment options. In the lower River Murray in Australia a floodplain inundation model has been built and linked to ecosystem response models. These models have been used to identifiy future outcomes for the ecosystem and to identify and prioritise investments in river management for economic, social and environmental benefits.

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