Project 9.1 'Dynamic vulnerability maps and decision support tools for the Great Barrier Reef'

Project 9.1 'Dynamic vulnerability maps and decision support tools for the Great Barrier Reef'

Understanding temporal and spatial patterns of vulnerability under environmental impacts and change is central to the management of marine parks. Quantitative assessments of vulnerability, however, are one of the greatest challenges for management planning of coral reef ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). One reason is the lack of a functional operational framework that can link environmental factors to vulnerability via physical, biological and ecological processes and their interactions. This project brings together key players in the fields of coral reef biology, ecology, physical oceanography, spatial modelling, decision theory and marine park management under a multidisciplinary project to develop a framework for the first dynamic vulnerability maps for the GBR.

The project will deliver a novel framework for linking impacts of environmental change to spatial patterns of coral reef resilience and vulnerability. We will use an innovative, multidisciplinary approach that mechanistically integrates information layers on environmental drivers (warming, hydrodynamics, ocean chemistry) with biological and ecological responses and consequences at multiple temporal and spatial scales. Our approach builds on recent advances in quantitative resilience assessments by the group to produce a reef vulnerability tool that can guide management decisions and marine park planning.

Project outputs at a glance

The objectives of this study are three-fold:

  • A novel, innovate framework for reef vulnerability assessments will advance this research area and strengthen the interface between research delivery and management application.
  • The development of dynamic vulnerability maps for the GBR will be made available in e-Atlas, and will contribute a key information tools set for the spatial planning of the GBR under both current and future environmental disturbance scenarios.
  • Delivery of the first decision support system (DSS) for the GBR that builds formally on spatial and operational indicators of vulnerability under environmental change scenarios.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Project Factsheet


Link to the Project 9.1 homepage on e-Atlas


Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014