The Kimberley Marine Research Program is presenting its latest research results with two open sessions scheduled for September and seven presentations held at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) in Kensington over the past month. The Lunch and Learn sessions are part of the knowledge transfer process to Kimberley marine managers and stakeholders.
Presentations in September will include:
- 15 Sep – Marine Turtles (Scott Whiting, Tony Tucker, DBCA) www.wamsi.org.au/marine-turtles (more details to follow on the WAMSI events calendar)
21 Sep – Using models to predict future scenarios in the Kimberley region (Fabio Boschetti, CSIRO) www.wamsi.org.au/modelling-future-kimberley-region (click here to see event listing)
As part of the WAMSI Kimberley Marine Research Program, supported by the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, scientists from CSIRO and ALCES (based in Canada) have been building a modelling tool to condense data collected from the KMRP projects to help inform future management decisions that may be required for the marine environment. Researchers have employed the use of two models (Ecopath with Ecosim [EwE] and ALCES) to help improve our understanding of the likely impact of increases in different pressures, and how effective different management strategies might be. Its hoped that such a tool and the outputs will improve capacity to plan and manage the Kimberley’s network of marine reserves. Dr. Fabio Boschetti from CSIRO will give an overview of the initial results from the EwE simulations of impact on the marine environment under different scenarios.
Links to the presentation abstracts, audio and slides now online are listed below:
- Predicting biophysical response to climate change (Dr Ming Feng, CSIRO)
- The spatial distribution of humback whales in the Kimberley (Dr MIchelle Thums, AIMS)
- Monitoring of Humpback Whales at Pender Bay, southern Kimberley region (Chandra Salgado Kent, Curtin)
- Understanding the ‘impact’ of the Ningaloo Research Program (Chris Cvitanovic, UTAS)
- The long-term drivers of Environmental Change in King Sound, Kimberley: the Coral record
- Impact of the 2015/16 Marine Heatwave and unprecedented Coral Mass Bleaching in the Kimberley Corals
Historical reconstructions from sediment records of water quality as an influence on coral reefs (John Keesing, CSIRO)
As part of the WAMSI Kimberley Marine Research Program, scientists from CSIRO have been using historical data and numerical modelling to investigate how sensitive the coastal marine waters off the Kimberley are to changes in ocean temperature, sea level, and shelf circulations that may be caused by human activity and natural climate drivers in the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
Dr. Ming Feng from CSIRO gives an overview of the sensitivity of coastal sea levels, ocean temperature and precipitation to climate variability such as the Pacific ENSO, with focus on climate drivers of the marine heatwaves off the coast. He also discusses potential impacts of climate change on the physical environment off the Kimberley coast and recent regional downscaling model results that are relevant to the future management of the Kimberley environment.
As part of the WAMSI Kimberley Marine Research Program, supported by State Government investment, scientists from AIMS, Centre for Whale Research, Curtin and the Department have been investigating how humpback whale use of the Kimberley has changed over time and the best methods to continue to monitor the population and its use of Kimberley coastal waters.
There is a great deal of information on the presence of whales and the recovery of the humpback whale population, much of it recorded by industry. Dr Michele Thums and Dr Mark Meekan from AIMS have worked with Curt Jenner from the Centre for Whale Research to compile existing information on whale presence and distribution across the Kimberley from a variety of sources to produce heat maps of core areas and important habitat. Dr Thums also discusses new cutting edge science looking at the potential for counting whales from space, using satellite imagery to understand how whale numbers and distribution across the Kimberley may change as an alternative to vessel and aerial survey techniques that can be very expensive in the remote Kimberley environment.
Monitoring of Humpback Whales at Pender Bay, southern Kimberley region (Chandra Salgado Kent, Curtin) (8 August)
Monitoring of Humpback Whales at Pender Bay, southern Kimberley region (Chandra Salgado Kent, Curtin) (8 August) www.wamsi.org.au/humpback-whale-monitoring#Presentations
Another alternative means of monitoring is the use of a land based site manned by volunteers. Dr Chandra Salgado Kent describes a project that has evaluated the data collection methods and five years of data from a community monitoring program at Two Moons Whale and Marine Research Base at Pender Bay on the Dampier Peninsula. She discusses the type of information that can be gained from such a monitoring tool and its applicability in the Kimberley.
Dr Chris Cvitanovic is an Interdisciplinary Research Fellow in the Centre for Marine Socio-ecology at The University of Tasmania. His research is focused on maximising the real world impacts of scientific research by enhancing knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers and improving public engagement in science.
In this presentaiton Chris shares his research evaluating the impact of the Ningaloo Research Program, an extensive program of marine research conducted through WAMSI and the CSIRO Wealth From Oceans program between 2006 and 2011:
The Ningaloo Reef is Australia’s largest fringing coral reef, extending across 300 kilometres of coastline between Exmouth and Carnarvon in Western Australia. This area is a global biodiversity hotspot and in 2011 was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of the ‘outstanding universal value of the area’. It is also a premier tourist destination, a key service point for oil and gas development and exploration, and supports two permanent communities in Exmouth and Coral Bay. Given the multiple and competing uses of the region, in 2004 the Western Australian Government allocated $5 million for research to support the management of the Ningaloo Marine Park. This program was then incorporated into the broader WAMSI research program in 2006 and grew in value to $36 million of research funding over ten years. In this talk, Dr Cvitanovic will present two of the key impacts that have resulted from the Ningaloo Research Program. First, he provides an overview of the new scientific knowledge that has emerged from the program that can support the ongoing management of the region. He then presents the results of his current research that explores how the Ningaloo Research Program has enhanced trust between the local Ningaloo communities and WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservaiton and Attractions, and how this can be leveraged to further engage local communities in the management of the region.
The Kimberley region in northwest Australia is a naturally extreme environment that features abundant and highly diverse coral reefs. However, it is currently unknown how Kimberley corals can cope with these extreme conditions and whether this affects their calcification rates and resistance to climate and environmental change. Professor McCulloch from UWA has undertaken research to understand how corals, the key ecosystem engineers on tropical reefs, have adapted and will respond in the future to the extreme variations in physical (e.g., light, temperature, water motion) and chemical (e.g., pCO2, oxygen, and nutrients) conditions characteristic of the Kimberley coastal region.
Dr John Keesing from CSIRO has been working with a team of researchers to obtain baseline and historical water quality information on the Kimberley so that future impacts and risks can be forecast, better managed and understood in the context of coastal development and global climate change. Dr Keesing describes how this research has used a palaeoecological approach to reconstruct a timeline of change in water quality over the last 100 years using a series of biogeochemical proxies for phytoplankton composition and biomass, temperature and terrestrial influences. Where possible these were matched to historical land/water use, meteorological or hydrological observational records.
The project examined sediment cores from three coastal locations, Koolama Bay (King George River), Cygnet Bay and Roebuck Bay. Each sampling location provided a contrast with which to evaluate changes over either a spatial or temporal gradient of human or natural influence. The presentation gives an overview of the results available to date for all sites but will focus in detail primarily on the analysis of Cygnet Bay samples which gave an indication of the subtle, but long-term effects of pearl oyster farming over the last 60 years and the more abrupt effects of climate change on phytoplankton biomass over the last 20 years and how temperature increases rather than rainfall increases have influenced this.
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.