This project will take advantage of recently developed and upgraded biodiversity databases, supplemented with new genetic information, to compare and contrast alternative attributes of Australian marine biodiversity. It will compare the distribution of species richness of local endemics with those for all species, or with areas identified to be important in speciation or climate refuge. It will use a process-based approach to identify common biodiversity patterns that will inform conservation management.
Task 1: National maps of biodiversity and connectivity. There are few national maps of biodiversity and connectivity for the Australian marine environment. The aim of this task is to accumulate comprehensive datasets for the entire Australian EEZ, including Antarctica (from 0-2000 m), map hotspots of biological and genetic diversity, and explore potential changes to faunal composition under various climate-change scenarios. This task will employ an innovative mix of genetics, phylogenetics and modelling to map patterns of connectivity of data-rich biota at national and regional scales. Outputs will be national maps of species and genetic biodiversity supported by datasets at sub-regional scale to assist decision makers. At present we have little data for many places identified as of interest to Marine Heritage (eg Coral Sea, Cape York, Kimberley). An atlas will summarise and interpolate existing knowledge for two large faunal groups. National maps of biodiversity will assist understanding of the role of networks of CMRs and other management measures in achieving the objectives of marine bioregional plans. Output from this task will be used in Supporting Management of marine biodiversity - Integrating social, economic and environmental values to value marine biodiversity and may influence monitoring decisions in National Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting.
Task 2: National biodiversity datasets for sharks, rays and selected teleosts. This task will utilise the key conservation values, vulnerability and extensive data holdings for Australian sharks, rays and selected teleosts to identify areas of key importance to threatened species, endemics, and both ancient and recently evolved elements of the fauna within marine provinces and their bathomes. Outputs will include datasets and maps summarising distributions and conservation values of sharks, rays and selected teleosts, incorporating hotspots of distribution and endemicity. This project will provide data products and maps that will improve the Department of the Environment's capacity to recognise, interpret and identify options to manage potential intersections between users of the marine environment and biodiversity values in identified hotspots, and provide improved information on which to base recovery plans if required.