About the theme


Researchers collaborated with Bardi Jawi land and sea rangers to develop a detailed understanding of how fish and coral recruitment and herbivory act as key processes that sustain the health of the Kimberley marine ecosystem.

Recruitment is essential for sustaining populations of fish and invertebrates, such as corals, whilst herbivory transfers energy from primary consumers to higher trophic levels and inhibits overgrowth of coral reefs by fleshy macroalgae.

This project has resulted in a better understanding of these processes in the Kimberley by quantifying when, where and how coral and fish replenishment takes place and what herbivores are responsible for most grazing on seagrass and algae in coastal marine areas.


  • Identify the timing of coral and fish replenishment (recruitment of young) in the Kimberley
  • Determine the significance and impact of algal and seagrass eating species (herbivores) on the Kimberley marine ecosystem
  • Understand how these ecological processes work in different Kimberley habitats such as coral reefs, mangrove and inter-tidal areas


  • Develop suitable in-water and remote techniques for the Kimberley that explicitly answer these aims
  • Apply these techniques to a range of important Kimberley habitats in both wet and dry seasons
  • Identify the important herbivore species and the amount of grazing that occurs on seagrass and algae, removing these from the ecosystem
  • Work in collaboration/partnership with Indigenous communities in the Kimberley and exchange knowledge on these important ecosystem processes
  • Deploy temperature loggers to see if there is a relationship between replenishment of coral and fish with water temperature


  • Better overall knowledge of where and when young coral and fish are replenished, to enable impacts to be managed (developments, tourism etc.)
  • A knowledge base that will support future monitoring of coral and fish and inform our understanding of population trends (i.e. if populations are going up or down)
  • Effective and efficient monitoring methods that can be conducted long-term
  • Increased capacity amongst Indigenous ranger groups to facilitate potential ongoing monitoring opportunities
  • Protocols for assessing fish recruitment by monitoring juvenile fishes
  • New methods for settlement tile placement to monitor coral recruitment for use in the Kimberley environment
  • Protocols for assessing coral recruitment using settlement tiles adapted for Kimberley conditions


Project News

Northwest Australia reveals its unique marine ecosystem 

School’s out on tropical fish nurseries in the Kimberley

Indigenous partnerships in marine science


Piggott CVH, Depczynski M, Gagliano M, Langlois TJ (2020) Remote video methods for studying juvenile fish populations in challenging environments. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology,



Replenishment of corals and fish through recruitment (2017 WAMSI Research Conference)

Key Ecological Processes in Kimberley Benthic Communities: Recruitment and Herbivory (Parks and Wildlife Lunch and Learn session)http://Coral recruitment in the Kimberley (Parks and Wildlife Lunch and Learn session)

WAMSI 1.1.2 – Herbivory (Parks and Wildlife Lunch and Learn session)

Key Ecological Processes (2015 WAMSI Research Conference)


Program: Kimberley Marine Research

Location: Buccaneer Archipelago, Cygnet Bay

Theme Leader: Martial Depczynski, AIMS



Final Report

Executive Summary

Fish Recruitment

Coral Recruitment