2.7 Receptor impact modelling

Receptor impact models describe how ecological systems might respond to hydrological changes as a result of coal resource development. Qualitative and quantitative models are constructed by eliciting the views of expert ecologists. This is the best available approach given the complexity of relationships between hydrological change and ecological components of the system and our uncertainty about them. 

Receptor impact models are developed for specific ecosystems and describe the relationship between: 

  • one or more hydrological response variables, which represent characteristics of the flow regime that could change due to coal resource development (for example, groundwater drawdown or the annual streamflow volume), and 
  • a receptor impact variable, which is a characteristic of the ecosystem (such as the presence of certain species of plant or animal) that, according to the conceptual modelling, is potentially sensitive to changes in the hydrological response variables.

Receptor impact modelling was conducted for the Galilee, Gloucester, Hunter and Namoi bioregional assessments. 

The outputs of receptor impact models will help identify the need for further local level studies of ecosystems and their response to coal resource development.

Relationship to other products

Receptor impact models translate predictions of hydrological change from surface water modelling (product 2.6.1) and groundwater modelling (product 2.6.2) into predicted ecological change. Predictions from receptor impact modelling are further considered in the impact and risk analysis (product 3-4), which examines the risks to and potential impacts on water resources and water-dependent assets due to coal seam gas or coal mining developments in a bioregion or subregion.