Continental-scale tracking of threats to shallow Australian reef ecosystems - Indicator report

Understanding human pressures and their impacts on marine ecosystems, including how these threats may change in space and time, is important for developing and prioritising management of marine natural resources, overarching biodiversity and associated ecological services. To achieve this goal, the capacity to monitor and detect change, in combination with understanding underlying mechanisms of impact, are both fundamental. However, achieving broad spatial and temporal data coverage, and knowing which key indicators of biodiversity reflect directional change related to specific pressures at local and regional scales represent significant challenges. For this report, we combined the three largest long-term monitoring datasets for Australia’s shallow reef communities that provide high taxonomic resolution for tropical and temperate fish, invertebrate and algal species: (1) the Australian Institute of Marine Science Long Term Monitoring Program (AIMS LTM; 276 sites, 23 yrs); (2) Reef Life Survey (RLS; 1,294 sites, up to 9 yrs); and (3) the University of Tasmania Long Term Marine Protected Area Monitoring Programs (LTMPA; 182 sites, up to 25 yrs). All sites and monitoring locations are shown in the map below. These datasets were integrated and analysed with information on major human pressures (fishing, rising sea temperature, introduced/ habitat-modifying species, and pollution) in order to identify impacts and biological indicators most sensitive to these pressures. This comprised the first continental-scale analysis of biogeographic patterns, ecosystem function and the tracking of ecological impacts generated by human-related pressures, and was designed to contribute to State-of-the-Environment (SoE) reporting.


Related information:

Reef Life Survey website

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