coral reefs

The objective of this project is to assess how management of local stressors such as land runoff can help improve the resilience of coral reefs to global stressors (climate change) which are more difficult to manage.

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.

To guide monitoring, management and mitigation decisions, researchers from CSIRO, JCU and AIMS propose to conduct a Phase 1 study to develop a robust approach that will allow them in Phase 2 to carry out an ecological risk assessment (ERA) of nutrients, fine suspended sediments, and pesticides used in agriculture in the Great Barrier Reef region, including ranking the relative risk of individual contaminants originating from priority catchments to the GBR ecosystems using a systematic, objective and transparent approach.

Phase 1 of the project aims to:

A key policy to minimising the effects of climate change on tropical marine organisms (e.g. coral bleaching and loss of seagrass cover) is to improve water quality, thereby reducing the potential for pollution to exacerbate the effects of thermal stress (Reef Plan, 2009).  While pesticides are thought to contribute to stress on nearshore habitats, little is known of their chronic effects on tropical species or their persistence in tropical waters.

Program 5 will have three projects designed to assess the impacts of cumulative pressures on coastal biodiversity in the GBR. One will be a synthesis and analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of inshore biodiversity seeking to partition the influence of different environmental drivers (water quality, crown of thorns starfish, cyclones, and connectivity) and identify synergistic interactions between stressors.

Dr. Ray Berkelmans worked for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) from 1986 to 1999 on impact assessment, and research procurement to assist management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. He joined AIMS in 1999 to undertake research into climate change impacts and adaptation of coral reefs, with this period including a PhD (2002) in marine biology and aquaculture at the School of Marine Biology, James Cook University.

Dr. Sweatman is a Senior Research Scientist at AIMS and leads the Long-term Monitoring Program for coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef. He trained as a behavioural ecologist working on reef fishes and has worked on the GBR and in the Caribbean (Panama). His research interests have broadened to processes of disturbance and recovery on reefs, particularly as applied to the GBR. After graduating, he worked briefly at University of Sydney then spent three years as a post-doc at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Professor Pandolfi is Chief Investigator and palaeoecologist at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, University of Queensland. He has broad research interests in marine palaeoecology, with emphasis on the effects of anthropogenic impacts and climate change on the recent past history and ecology of modern coral reefs.


Subscribe to RSS - coral reefs