September 3, 2015
The 2011─2015 Final Report of the National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub is now available online, as well as in hard copy.
A dynamic, searchable website includes photos, videos, maps and animations showcasing more than 40 research projects and can be browsed by region or research topic.
The research has strengthened Australia’s capacity for scientific collaboration and marine biodiversity monitoring and management.
It supports marine bioregional planning, the Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) network, recovery of species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, and sustainability of the Great Barrier Reef.
Hub scientists developed approaches to characterising and analysing marine areas, including environmental pressures, and provided a national monitoring blueprint to meet the reporting needs of the Department of the Environment.
They applied these new tools and approaches across Australia to characterise Commonwealth marine reserves (CMRs) and Key Ecological Features (areas of significant biodiversity or ecological value in Commonwealth waters).
A survey design method was adapted to monitor fine-scale changes in marine biodiversity (and provide baseline biodiversity data) that are statistically representative of broader areas, such as across marine reserves. The method was applied in surveys of the Oceanic Shoals, Flinders, Freycinet, Tasman Fracture, Geographe and Coral Sea CMRs.
Photographic inventories of deep-water fish communities were made for the first time off Tasmania using baited, instrumented, remote camera systems, and mid-water camera systems were developed to monitor pelagic sharks and fishes.
New genetic and statistical approaches were combined in a unique method for estimating the population size of sharks and sawfish that heralds a fundamental change in the information that can be provided on these and other threatened species.
Models were developed to trace population connectivity between submarine canyons, relationships between pelagic predators and seabed features, continental patterns in marine biodiversity, and to produce the first regional maps of seabed communities off south-eastern Australia.
Modelling of seabed habitats and trawling shows signs of recovery off south-eastern Australia in response to reduced fishing effort since 2005. Elements of the approach are to be extended nationally by the fisheries researchers and will contribute to the State of the Environment Report 2016.
An intensive rock lobster potting survey of reef systems in and adjacent to the Tasman Fracture CMR examined lobster abundances and size structure in fished and protected locations.
Stable isotope analysis was used to differentiate the feeding niches of different bird species at the Houtman-Abrolhos Islands, improving the capacity to monitor seabeds as indicators of change. Other ecological indicators were grouped and categorised.
National datasets, data collection and analysis were streamlined for improved accessibility and utility: FishMap shows the distribution of fishes, the CATAMI annotates marine imagery data and ARMARDA provides a single entry point to databases held by multiple research agencies.
How can I obtain a copy?
There are three versions of the report available –
- printed hard copy - request a copy
- pdf version - download a copy
- click your way through the online interactive version - play the videos, investigate by research area, explore by geographic region, or trawl our imagery and maps - http://nerpmarinebiodiversity2015.report/