World Heritage Areas

Effective management of seabird populations on the Great Barrier Reef requires identifying the population-specific causes of current declines and their associated threatening processes. Without detailed information on foraging areas, resource use and links to oceanographic variation it is not possible to isolate or manage anthropogenic threats that occur outside of nesting colonies.

Sharks play an important role in marine ecosystems but are facing increasing pressure from fishing and other anthropogenic factors. Along the Queensland coast inshore waters play an important role as nursery areas for sharks. However, the same inshore waters are also most prone to fisheries exploitation and effects of freshwater discharge from coastal streams and rivers. This project will examine the importance of different types of inshore habitat (protected bay vs.

Large predatory fish are essential to a balanced marine ecosystem and also form the basis of important commercial and recreational fisheries. Sustainable fisheries and sustainable ecosystems require that management is able to achieve a balance between these divergent needs. The large size of many of these predators means that they often are highly mobile. This mobility complicates the management of these species, especially in regions such as the Great Barrier Reef, where there is a complex mosaic of open and closed areas.

Our current knowledge of diversity of the Great Barrier Reef and the mechanisms that determine it are minimal.  Based on a new statistical model of diversity, researchers will map the diversities of biota and environments of the Reef, and will relate biotic diversity to spatial, environmental and temporal drivers. These relationships will be interpreted in the context of risk, zoning and management.

Monitoring is a fundamental component of the management of threatened species and is of particular importance when those species come into direct conflict with humans and their interests.  In such circumstances up-to-date information on population status, trends and distribution become key inputs into decision making. In these circumstances, systematic, objective and transparent data is critical to the acceptance of the decision making process.

Ten frog species disappeared from the upland rainforests of the Wet Tropics and Eungella during outbreaks of amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in the late 1980s and early 1990s, representing 25% of the frogs endemic to the Wet Tropics and all of the Eungella endemics.  Five of these species occurred only in the uplands and have been presumed extinct because no individuals have been found despite intensive searches. This represents a significant loss of endemic species diversity, particularly in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

This project will better characterise biodiversity refugia in north-east Queensland rainforests by assessing genetic diversity at landscape scale in rainforest plants and fungi.

This project will provide detailed mapping of present and future biodiversity patterns and drivers, environmental and evolutionary refugia and a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability and resilience of rainforest biodiversity in Australian tropical forests. The project team will use a combination of available knowledge, existing datasets and strategic research to inform adaptive strategies for promoting persistence of biodiversity.

This project will develop a Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) framework using a stakeholder driven approach to qualitatively integrate our understanding of the key drivers of change in the GBR inshore ecosystem and human uses, with an emphasis on biodiversity and inshore multi-species fisheries management.

Coral reefs are showing evidence of decline on local, regional and global scales. Historical overfishing, nutrient loading and terrestrial discharge, combined with more recent threats of global warming, coral bleaching, ocean acidification and disease have resulted in long-term losses of abundance, diversity and habitat structure. Since European settlement of the Queensland coastline in the mid-19th century, extensive land use changes in the GBR catchment region have occurred resulting from grazing, agriculture and land clearance.


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