We will use ship-based sampling to “develop a better understanding of the marine biodiversity and major drivers for maintaining biodiversity” (Marine Division) by filling major knowledge gaps for specific data poor KEFs and CMRs in Northern Australia and/or the Coral Sea. This will also address the interests of Natural and Indigenous Heritage in biodiversity mapping in the Coral Sea and Cape York. The survey will have the potential to extend from shallow to deep habitats (~2000m); however the precise location and focus will be determined in consultation with DSEWPaC and with the aim of directly enhancing outputs from other projects in the Hub. We plan to determine the area and conduct the survey in the first year of the NERP Hub, so that samples can be worked up and available to other Hub projects in a timely fashion.

These data will be used to fill nationally recognised gaps in biodiversity knowledge and to understand patterns of community assembly, associated physical drivers of marine biodiversity in these poorly studied marine realms, and provide a regional context to these patterns and processes. This sampling will also support further development of a national mapping and survey capacity capitalising on recent marine infrastructure investments. This theme will provide key inputs of data and samples to Theme 3. These data will also provide opportunities for testing and extending the work in National Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting and Supporting Management of Marine Biodiversity particularly the proposed regionally focussed work supporting marine management.