Areas of coral diversity identified for conservation in Australia’s North West

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

New research has confirmed that corals reefs along the Kimberley coastline will not recover quickly from an extreme event such as mass coral bleaching, unless local populations survive.   

The study published in Evolutionary Applications, reveals that Kimberley corals live in genetically related neighbourhoods of less than 35 kilometres and are unlikely to recruit larvae from outside this neighbourhood.

Two types of coral were sampled: the broadcast spawning coral Acropora aspera and the brooding coral Isopora brueggemanni across the inter-archipelago (tens to hundreds of kilometres), inter-reef (kilometres to tens of kilometres) and within-reef (tens of metres to a few kilometres).

The research is the result of a national collaboration between researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), CSIRO, Curtin University, the WA Museum and  the Bardi Jawi Rangers as part of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution’s Kimberley Marine Research Program.

Lead author Dr Jim Underwood (AIMS) said the study provides a valuable insight into how to protect the ecosystems from local human pressures such as overfishing and pollution in Marine Protected Areas and Indigenous Protected Areas.

“To do this well, we need to know where and how far coral larvae move in the ocean currents after they are spawned and before they settle down as recruits,” Dr Underwood said. “This helps us to understand where the next generation of young corals will come from so we can look to keeping the sources healthy.”

The key finding from the study is that most coral larvae do not move more than 35 kilometres from their home reef, and shows that locally produced recruits drive replenishment.

Unlike continuous reef systems such as the Great Barrier Reef, most systems in Australia’s North West are extremely isolated with low “connectivity” between local coral populations and larvae from distant sources via ocean currents.

“This means recovery after disturbance will rarely be supplemented through the input of larvae produced far away,” Dr Underwood said.

 

Lead author Dr Jim Underwood collecting corals from Bowles Reef in Mayala sea country. (Image: Oliver Berry, CSIRO)

 

Co-author and project leader Dr Oliver Berry (CSIRO) said they also found that corals of the Dampier Peninsula and Buccaneer Archipelago are genetically diverse and different from other regions, and therefore require special custodianship.

“The study is a great example of how new technologies like DNA sequencing can reveal information about the movement of corals without having to observe them,” Dr Berry said. 

The study recommends networks of marine reserves that effectively protect reefs from local pressures should be spaced within a few tens of kilometres to conserve the existing patterns of demographic and genetic connectivity.

 

This article was originally published by the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Read the original article.

 

The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.

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Kimberley Marine Research Program

Blue Carbon conversation celebrates World Oceans Day 2020

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

The United States Consulate General Perth in partnership with the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) celebrated World Oceans Day 2020 this week by hosting a virtual conversation with world-leading ocean scientists who have been at the forefront of collaborations between the U.S. and Australia on Blue Carbon research.     

The conversation on Monday 8 June was moderated by U.S. Consul General David J. Gainer and featured :

  • Professor James Fourqurean, Director of the Center for Coastal Oceans Research, Professor Biological Sciences, Institute of Environment, Florida International University
  • Dr Oscar Serrano, Research Fellow, Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, School of Science, Edith Cowan University

Click HERE to watch to the conversation

Background

Professor Jim Fourqurean and Dr Oscar Serrano played a crucial role in establishing successful collaborations between Australia and the United States in the field of Blue Carbon. As a direct result, they have published a number of papers in top scientific journals over the last decade, which have had significant impact in the research community and in the media.

Western Australia and the United States host some of the largest Blue Carbon ecosystems in the world. Both countries have great potential to mitigate climate change through the conservation and restoration of Blue Carbon ecosystems. Research partnerships between the two countries are instrumental to meet these targets.

 

Professor Jim Fourqurean

Professor Jim Fourqurean is a marine and estuarine ecologist with a special interest in benthic plant communities and nutrient biogeochemistry. He received his undergraduate and graduate training in the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, where he became familiar with the Chesapeake Bay and its benthic communities.

He developed a love of tropical ecosystems while doing his dissertation research in Florida Bay. After a post doc at San Francisco State studying planktonic processes in Tomales Bay, California, he was recruited to return to south Florida to join a new research group at the then-newest research university in the USA, Florida International University (FIU).

He has been at FIU since 1993, where he is now Professor of Biological Sciences and the Director of the Center for Coastal Oceans Research in the Institute for Water and Environment. Since 2011, he has also held an adjunct appointment at The University of Western Australia.

For the past three decades, his main research areas have been in the seagrass environments of south Florida, but he has also worked in coastal environments around the Gulf of Mexico, in Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Panama, Bahamas, Bermuda, the United Arab Emirates and the western Mediterranean. He is the lead scientist and overall manager of FIU’s Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only saturation diving habitat and laboratory for research, education and outreach.

His global leadership in coastal oceans research was recently recognised when he was elected President of the Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation, the world’s leading body of scientists who study coastal issues.

 

Dr Oscar Serrano

Dr Oscar Serrano has over 15 years research experience in marine ecology and palaeoecology, chemistry and in marine biogeochemical cycles. After completing his PhD in 2011, he started working as a postdoctoral research fellow at Edith Cowan University and The University of Western Australia (from 2012 until present) in multi-institutional projects.

His research focuses on Blue Carbon and climate-human-landscape interactions during the Holocene, through the study of coastal environmental archives.

During the past ten years he has worked to establish an extensive international network that has supported his ongoing development on Blue Carbon research, including collaborators in Australia, the U.S. and Europe, and he has become internationally recognised as one of the leaders in Blue Carbon research.

Currently, Dr Serrano is assisting the Australian Government to include the carbon dioxide absorbed by Australian tidal marsh, mangrove and seagrass ecosystems in National Carbon Inventories and Nationally Determined Contributions towards meeting climate change agreements.

 

Dambi Ranger Boat Refit Complete

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

Dambimangari are the Care takers for the Warrorra people and their country. The country starts around a place called Cone Bay which is on the north side of the King Sound and finishes way up in the Prince Regent river. It includes places like the Buccaneer Archipelago, Talbot Bay, Montgomery Reef and the George water to name a few places.

Over the recent months Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation (DAC) has been refitting the ranger/research vessel Manambadda to get ready for their own inhouse work and to supply a service to help researchers access Dambi country and for the Traditional Owners to maintain a connection to Country.

This vessel has been a long time in the making and the ranger team has put a huge amount of time into making the vessel work for the remoteness. With having a team of fully qualified skippers and crew that are mainly Warrorra people this project has a huge amount of excitement surrounding it.

The vessel is a 9.3 metre Air Rider powered by twin 325HP Suzuki outboards.

“It has a great range and can operate out on Dambi country for weeks without having to return to Derby for supplies but is small enough to hire for short periods of time,” DAC Marine Operations Officer Mitchell Castellarin explained. “We have a range of inhouse Dambi work to carry out throughout the season but the ranger team is looking for new contracts to help them manage the country they love. In future we hope that all research that is carried out on Dambi country can be done with the rangers.”

 

 

Join us for a conversation on Blue Carbon this Monday World Oceans Day

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New Assessment Lists Shark Bay at High Risk from Climate Change

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

An innovative new assessment process has confirmed the iconic Shark Bay World Heritage property in Western Australia is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The assessment indicates that the 23,000-square-kilometre Shark Bay property, on the westernmost point of the Australian continent, is at great risk to potential impacts of three key climate stressors – air temperature change, storm intensity and frequency, and extreme marine heat events – by 2050, with a low capacity for the system to adapt to climate change.

Associate Professor Scott Heron and Jon Day from James Cook University developed the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) assessment process to identify the environmental and socioeconomic vulnerability of World Heritage properties. The assessment process builds on a widely accepted framework developed by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee took the opportunity to pilot the assessment process to fast track an environmental risk assessment on the property. The results will contribute to a Science Plan for the region being developed by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI).

“This assessment will form part of our review of the existing knowledge about Shark Bay and will help us to prioritise research in a comprehensive Science Plan,” Dr Shaw said.

The assessment also considered the economic dependence of key business types on the property, the local population’s connection with the property, and the levels of adaptive capacity.

“The CVI process showed the effects of climate change will have a high degree of impact on the Shark Bay community both socially and economically,” Dr Heron said.

“Around 100,000 tourists visit the Site each year to interact with turtles, dugongs and dolphins, and visit the world’s most extensive population of stromatolites which are representative of organisms that date back billions of years,” Chair of the Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee Phil Scott said. “Commercial and recreational fishing is also extremely important for the local and state economy, so this assessment helps us to better understand just how vulnerable Shark Bay is.”

 

Above: Stromatolites, Shark Bay

 

Shark Bay, known by the Malgana Traditional Owners as Gatharragudu (two bays), is one of the nation’s 19 unique properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, along with iconic landmarks such as Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Kakadu, and the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of only four marine sites in the world that meets all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing.

Local experts and representatives from the community, management agencies and academic institutions contributed to two workshops through the CVI process (Denham, September 2018 and Perth, June 2019). The final report has been produced by the Shark Bay World Heritage Advisory Committee and WAMSI.

The CVI has now been applied and tested in other World Heritage properties including a cultural site in the Orkney Islands, Scotland and the Wadden Sea, a tri-national property (Germany, Netherlands and Denmark).

The Shark Bay CVI report is available at www.wamsi.org.au/cvi-shark-bay

 

Murdoch marine scientist receives prestigious career award

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

WAMSI would like to congratulate Professor Lynnath Beckley on receiving the esteemed Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Jubilee Award for her extensive contribution to marine research in Australia.

FULL STORY

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Leading Marine Scientists Zoom In to Help Year 12 Students

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

Some of the world’s leading marine scientists will be Zooming in to high school classrooms this term to help Year 12 students achieve their best in their final year of study amid the COVID-19 confusion.

With the COVID restrictions keeping scientists grounded, Western Australian-based researchers from The University of Western Australia (UWA), Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University, Curtin University as well as federal government agencies CSIRO, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and state government departments managing Parks and Wildlife (DBCA) and Fisheries research (DPIRD) have responded to the challenging time in education by offering their expertise to students studying marine and maritime subjects.

Led by WA marine science school teachers through the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) partnership, students will have unprecedented access to pitch questions about final year subjects to the top scientists in their field of research.

UWA Professor Anas Ghadouani is asked a question by a student from Sacred Heart College in Sorrento, WA 

Coordinator and Sacred Heart College marine science teacher John Ryan described it as a great opportunity for final year students who have been finding it hard to stay motivated.

“This is an exciting opportunity for all Year 11 and 12 Marine and Maritime students to learn from the scientists who are at the forefront of research on these subjects,” Mr Ryan said.

Each week a scientist will conduct a presentation on one of the subjects in the curriculum followed by a question and answer session. The sessions will also be recorded and made available to teachers and students across the state.

The broad topics covered include: major issues affecting Australia’s marine environment; strategies for managing marine biodiversity; and the impact of the enhanced greenhouse effect.

UWA Professor of Coastal Oceanography Charitha Pattiaratchi, who was involved in modelling the possible path of debris from the missing Malaysian airliner MH370, said scientists were happy to be able to help final year students through a difficult time.

“When I was 15 I had a little blue note book and on it I had written a note I’d copied from a comic book about a career as an oceanographer that motivated me to become an oceanographer,” Professor Pattiaratchi said. “I hope in some way we can help to keep these students motivated to pursue a career that will see them help solve some of the marine environment’s greatest challenges.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Ryan@cewa.edu.au

 

 

 

 

ZOOM INTO SCHOOLS PRESENTERS

Professor Anas Ghadouani

Professor of environmental Engineering, The University of Western Australia

Issues affecting Australias marine environment: Water quality, pollutions issues, microplastics, wastewater discharge, zooplankton, phytoplankton, blue economy

Professor Chad L. Hewitt

Director Biosecurity Research Centre, Harry Butler Institute
Murdoch Defence Research Coordinator, Research and Innovation, Murdoch University

Issues affecting Australias marine environment: What are introduced species, why they are a problem, how they get here, why should we act, and what we are doing.

 

Professor Charitha Pattiaratchi

Professor of Oceanography, Oceans Graduate School, The University of Western Australia

The impact of enhanced greenhouse effect: Global sea levels and Thermohaline current

Professor Glenn Hyndes

Professor of Coastal Ecology, Edith Cowan University

The impact of enhanced greenhouse effect: Marine habitats and coastal communities

 

Dr Matthew Fraser

Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Western Australia

Issues affecting Australia’s marine environment: Loss of habitat

Professor Lynnath Beckley

Senior researcher, Murdoch University (2020 Australian Marine Sciences Association (AMSA) Jubilee Award for her career contribution to marine research in Australia)

Strategies for managing biodiversity: Marine Protected Areas

Dr Michele Thums

Senior researcher, Australian Institute of Marine Science

Strategies for managing biodiversity: Role of scientific research in marine environmental management

Dr Kelly Waples

Senior Scientist / Science Coordinator at Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (Parks and Wildlife)

Strategies for managing biodiversity: Global protection of cetaceans.

Dr Alastair Harry

Research Scientist, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (Fisheries research)

Strategies for managing biodiversity: Role of scientific research in marine environmental management – Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management

Dr Iain Parnum

Senior Research Fellow, Curtin University

Strategies for managing biodiversity Seafloor mapping and its role in marine environment management

Dr Ming Feng

Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO

The impact of enhanced greenhouse effect: Indonesian Throughflow – thermocline current

Charlotte Birkmanis

PhD Candidate, The University of Western Australia

Issues affecting Australia’s marine environment: Loss of habitat (from a shark point of view)

Dr Marji Puotinen

Spatial – Ecological Data Scientist, Australian Institute of Marine Science

How tropical cyclones can cool overheated sea water and reduce the impacts of coral bleaching)

 

Attached files:

PDF iconZoom Into Schools Poster.pdf

WASTAC Small Research Grants

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

 

The Western Australian Satellite Technology and Applications Consortium (WASTAC) was comprised of state and federal departments and universities whose main objectives were to maintain a reliable, comprehensive and accessible archive of NOAA-AVHRR MODIS and SeaWiFS satellite data. WASTAC had a strong focus on information exchange to broaden public awareness of the available data sets and applications.

 

In 2018, the WASTAC agreement expired and the parties agreed to disband. The assets were distributed to the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) to be held and applied to achieve the following common objectives:       

  1. To enhance the contribution of strategic scientific and technological research and innovation to Australia’s sustainable environmental, social and economic development
  2. To enhance the transfer of research outputs into outcomes of economic, environmental and social benefit to Western Australia
  3. To enhance collaboration among and between researchers and industry, and improve efficiency in the use of intellectual and other research resources.  

To that end, WAMSI is seeking expressions of interest in research proposals in accordance with the following principals:

  1. Small scale projects with additional, in-kind support.
  2. Undergraduate student project support.
  3. PhD top-up scholarship/project grants.
  • The WASTAC Small Research Grants are not intended to be student grants for students to apply, rather it is intended that supervisors apply on behalf of their students.
  • Preference will be given to PhD top-ups associated with new programs or extensions to existing programs, assessed through the WASTAC Small Research Grant awards.
  • Applications for PhD top-ups for existing programs, where the program is not assessed under the WASTAC Small Research Awards, will only be considered with very strong justification.
  1. Visiting research expertise – travel/training program.
  2. Research amenities – access to data/expertise support for relevant projects.
  3. Operationalise research outcomes.
  4. Improve existing applications using earth observation (EO) data.

Key Dates

 Call for Applications

 23 April 2020

 Applications Close

 24 May 2020, 5.00 pm AWST

 Awards Announced

 June 2020

 *Dates are subject to change pending government instruction on COVID-19

 

Conditions of Award and Application Form (click here)

 

For more information contact info@WAMSI.org.au

 

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Attached files: 

PDF iconL-band_Term_Executed_Schedule2.pdf PDF iconX-band_Term_Executed_Schedule2.pdf FileWASTAC_grant_template_200331.docx

Five-Year Study Quantifies How Sediment and Light Affect Coral

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

Results from the culmination of five-years of groundbreaking research to understand how dredging and sediments affects corals have been released in a new paper published in Scientific Reports.

One of the main themes of the $19-million Dredging Science Node, facilitated by the Western Australian Marine Science Institution partnership, describes the primary cause-effect pathway and how to establish a quantitative relationship between water quality and coral health.

Node Leader (Science) Dr Ross Jones from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) said the paper Responses of corals to chronic turbidity, is the 18th and final journal article of the effects of dredging on adult and juvenile corals, and sponges carried out by AIMS during the WAMSI Dredging Science Node.

“The sediment plumes from dredging can travel many kilometres, are quite spectacular and are a visible manifestation of the ‘hazard’ associated with dredging,” Dr Jones said. “The study translates that hazard into a risk, showing negative effects are much more localised allowing a much better understanding of the spatial effects associated with dredging.”

Satellite image from the United States geological Survey Operational Land Imager showing sediment plumes caused by dredging and dredge material placement near Onslow in the Pilbara region of Western Australia  (courtesy of Mark Broomhall and Peter Fearns (Curtin University of technology, Perth WA) 

 

Sediments are resuspended into the water column by dredging and dredging activities and the increase in water cloudiness, reduces underwater light levels. This is an issue for hard corals that derive a lot of their energy from the photosynthesis of the symbiotic algae that live within their tissues.

Although the hazard of light reduction caused by dredging was first identified in the 1970s, it has never really advanced beyond that initial hazard identification. This has led to a great deal of uncertainty for regulators and dredging proponents.

“This study is the first to quantify how a combination or elevated suspended sediment concentrations and the associated reduction in light affects the health of corals,” Dr Jones said.

“Importantly, when compared to the conditions that have been measured during dredging projects, the study shows effects are probable, albeit close to the dredging activity,” he explained. “The numbers that have been derived can be used to predict what will happen and hence act as a guide for management intervention and, if necessary, varying the intensity of dredging.”

 

AIMS technician and coauthor Natalie Giofre monitors corals in the AIMS SeaSim lab

LINKS

Jones R, Giofre N, Luter H, Neoh TL, Fisher R, Duckworth A (2020) Responses of corals to chronic turbidity. Scientific Reports https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-61712-w

 

The WAMSI Dredging Science Node is made possible through $9.5 million invested by Woodside, Chevron and BHP as environmental offsets. A further $9.5 million has been co-invested by the WAMSI Joint Venture partners, adding significantly more value to this initial industry investment. The node is also supported through critical data provided by Chevron, Woodside and Rio Tinto Iron Ore.

 

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Dredging Science

Warming and Higher Rainfall Could Be a Recipe for Phytoplankton Success

This article was originally published on an archived WAMSI website. Some media or links may appear missing or broken. You can use the search function to look for these, or contact info@wamsi.org.au for a specific request.

Historical records from seabed sediment cores have revealed that the warming climate and increased rainfall in Australia’s North West could in fact be creating ideal conditions for the increased production of phytoplankton, one of nature’s most important indicators of ocean health.

The findings from the study: Phytoplankton Responses to Climate‐Induced Warming and Interdecadal Oscillation in North‐Western Australia, published in the journal Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, are the first to confirm these patterns.

The sediment cores were collected as part of the Western Australian Marine Science Institution’s Kimberley Marine Research Program from three bays along the Kimberley coastline, including Roebuck Bay off Broome, Koolama Bay off King George River, and Cygnet Bay in King Sound.

 

Above: Sediment cores were collected from 3 bays – Roebuck Bay off Broome, Koolama Bay off King George River, and Cygnet Bay in King Sound.  

 

Lead researcher Dr John Keesing from CSIRO’s Ocean and Atmosphere said the results were surprising given that warming of the ocean had been forecast to reduce phytoplankton productivity in tropical/subtropical oceans, through increasing stratification of the water column, locking deep-water nutrients away from productive surface layers, and through temperatures exceeding the thermal tolerance of some phytoplankton species.

“What we found is that up to three times more phytoplankton biomass has been produced since the 1950s along a large section of the Kimberley coast,” Dr Keesing said. “The majority of that can be linked with climate change induced increases in sea surface temperature, strong tidal mixing of coastal waters and increased rainfall creating improved nutrient supply conditions, feeding phytoplankton growth and production in shallow coastal waters.”

 

Above: John Keesing obtaining cores in the Kimberley with the assistance from Traditional Owners from Kalumburu and Wyndham

 

The study also found that 20.4 per cent of the variation in phytoplankton biomass was related to long-term changes in the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO) which has an important influence on coastal nutrient supply. The positive, or warm phase of the IPO, is associated with a weaker Indonesian Through Flow (ITF) current , which enhances upwelling, a process which brings nutrients from deep water to shallow coastal waters. The present, negative or cool phase of the IPO has the opposite effect, with a strong ITF suppressing upwelling and restricting nutrient supply from the deep ocean.

“We predict that the negative impact of rising temperatures on phytoplankton in northwestern Australia could be buffered by increasing rainfall, perhaps associated with more tropical cyclones, evolutionary adaptation of local phytoplankton species to warm conditions and the upcoming warm phase of Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation,” Dr Keesing said.

Links

Yuan Z, Liu D, Masqué P, Zhao M, Song X, Keesing J K (2020) Phytoplankton Responses to Climate‐Induced Warming and Interdecadal Oscillation in North‐Western Australia. Paleoceaonography and Paleoclimatology doi:10.1029/2019PA003712

 

The $30 million Kimberley Marine Research Program is funded through major investment supported by $12 million from the Western Australian government co-invested by the WAMSI partners and supported by the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley.

 

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Kimberley Marine Research Program