eNewsletter Article

Local and global changes are creating new pressures in remote Torres Strait island communities, including substantial increase in the cost of living. The changes are primarily associated with climate change, resource development in Papua New Guinea and disease and biosecurity threats. There is, consequently, strong interest among Torres Strait communities in increasing their resilience so that they can not only cope with the full range of interacting changes but proactively respond to new opportunities that change creates, such as sustainable economic development.

Torres Strait is home to nearly half of the world’s mangrove species within an area of some 31,390 Ha. However, Torres Strait mangroves are exposed to natural drivers of change, including wind, waves, storms and lightning, more so than mainland mangroves. They are therefore vulnerable to climate-related effects, such as increased storm frequency and severity and coastal erosion.

The Torres Strait is well known as a biological bridge, with many species moving between the islands and mainland Australia.

Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers have drawn chilling conclusions for the future of specialist rainforest vertebrate species in the Wet Tropics region in a changing climate.

Seagrass meadows are vital habitat in tropical coastal ecosystems. However, ongoing monitoring indicates that seagrass meadows are in decline in the Great Barrier Reef where they are exposed to a range of stressors that reduce their capacity to recover after major disturbances.

Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers are working in collaboration with Girringun Aboriginal Rangers to increase current knowledge of the distribution, habitat associations and potential threats to inshore dolphins and dugong.

This collaboration has arisen due from a desire to record existing Indigenous knowledge of these threatened species and to integrate this with contemporary scientific knowledge.

Tropical Ecosystems Hub researchers are unlocking vital information for species of coral trout on the Great Barrier Reef that has important implications for coral trout conservation and fisheries management in the World Heritage Area.

Extensive land clearing is a major threat to biodiversity. Consequently, tree planting is a commonly used strategy to rapidly restore forest to degraded landscapes. However, its high cost prevents its use across the large areas needed to address the ongoing legacy of land clearing.

In this issue of the Tropical Ecosystems Hub newsletter, Fiona McDuie and Brad Congdon from JCU provide the first conclusive proof that wedge-tailed shearwaters from the Great Barrier Reef over winter far away in the Northern Hemisphere adding a significant complication to the local management of this species.


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