Conservation and Biodiversity

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  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub project E6 - "Assisting restoration of ecosystem engineers through seed-based and shoot-based programs in the Shark Bay WHS". For specific data outputs from this project, please see child records associated with this metadata. -------------------- This project is a collaboration between scientists and the Shark Bay Malgana Indigenous community into jointly developed seeding and shoot planting methods to assist natural recovery of seagrasses in preparation for future devastating impacts of climate change. The Shark Bay World Heritage Site (WHS) is unique globally for its natural values, including stromatolites, seagrass meadows and marine megafauna including dugongs, sharks, turtles, and dolphins. The immediate goal is to scale up the existing restoration research to assist recovery of the dominant seagrasses, Amphibolis antarctica and Posidonia australis following the 2011 marine heat wave. Planned Outputs • A seagrass restoration toolkit (multimedia and report format) - will include information on sourcing suitable genetic material • Data on the trial seed restoration outcomes

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project E3 - "Microplastics in the Australian marine environment". No data outputs are expected for this project. -------------------- A literature review will firstly identify key marine microplastics research and policy development internationally, with a focus on research that is contextual to microplastics in the Australian marine environment From this literature review, an options paper will be developed to explore the most feasible and impactful policy approaches for the Australian context to reduce both intentionally added and not intentionally added microplastics in the marine environment (it would be beneficial to understand the policy options that can address both categories of microplastics because the options are different). These two reports would form the basis of a one day workshop that will draw together policy-makers, researchers and relevant industry peak bodies to discuss and recommend policy and other options to limit the release / impact of microplastics in the environment. A workshop report will be drafted to summarise findings, recommendations, and next steps (including identifying gaps in both science and policy will inform any future work required). The report will provide evidence to underpin the development of national policy aimed at reducing microplastic pollution, including by identifying priority actions to deliver Australia’s 2018 National Waste Policy .

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project A15 - "Conservation status of tropical inshore dolphins". No data outputs are expected for this project. -------------------- This project is solely for a desktop review of peer-reviewed publications, research projects, and reports (e.g. EIAs) associated with major port developments 2013-2019.

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project A9 - "Grey Nurse Shark CK-MR Population Estimate – East Coast". For specific data outputs from this project, please see child records associated with this metadata. -------------------- A review of the 2002 National Recovery Plan for Grey Nurse Shark (DEWHA 2009) concluded it was not possible to determine if the east coast population had shown any signs of recovery (DoE 2014); recommending a new recovery plan be developed for this species. A primary objective of the new recovery plan (DoE 2014) is to improve knowledge of GNS population status. This will require a robust estimate of population size and trend – something that has not been provided to date. This project will use genetic SNP data to inform close kin-mark recapture analysis to estimate population size and trend, and provide guidance on future monitoring strategies for the east coast population of grey nurse shark. Planned Outputs • Tools to refine and integrate CK-MR and species demographic data for population assessments of a key threatened species at a national scale (combining knowledge developed under this project combined with similar techniques being applied under NESP to euryhaline sharks and white sharks). • A national estimate of (census) population size and trend for the eastern Australian population of grey nurse shark will be developed to fulfil the highest priority actions of the National Recovery Plan. • Identify national strategies to guide future monitoring of grey nurse shark populations. • The project will provide peer-reviewed additions to the scientific literature that will add to the science-support for the development and implementation of policies to support the ecologically sustainable management of Australia’s marine environment.

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project A10 - "Conservation of handfish and their habitat". For specific data outputs from this project, please see child records associated with this metadata. -------------------- Spotted and red handfish are critically endangered. Prior to 2019, this project commenced a scientifically robust monitoring program to track conservation trajectories and performance of recovery plan actions across all known sub-populations of Spotted Handfish. An innovative geo-reference photographic method provided both capture-mark-recapture information and sub-population fish densities as a proxy for abundance. Collecting this data was a crucial first step for a future project of targeted placement of artificial spawning habitat (ASH) and to determine minimum population size to inform sustainable capture of brood-stock for captive breeding. From 2019-2020, the project was extended to include Red Handfish. In accordance with the signed Handfish Recovery Plan, this project will conserve Red and Spotted Handfish through various direct conservation actions guided by research. This includes replanting of the degraded plastic artificial spawning habitats (ASH) with a re-designed array of ceramic units, assessment of taut eco-friendly moorings in critical spotted handfish habitat, genetic and capture mark recapture studies for both species, a population viability analysis (PVA) and performance assessment of management actions. The project will also continue a captive breeding project with industry, and engage with the broader community through talks, outreach and publications and re-establishment of the handfish recovery team.

  • NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project C2 involved integration and analysis of three existing monitoring datasets: the Reef Life Survey (RLS), IMAS Long-term MPA (LTMPA), and AIMS Long-term (AIMS LTM) monitoring programs. These analyses involved generating new derived data on indicator values for survey sites in each of the datasets, which have been reported in the 2016 State of the Environment (SoE) report. Indicators included the biomass of large fishes, the community temperature index, the proportion of invasive species, crown-of-thorns seastar density and the proportion of threatened species. Details of calculation of these indicators and summary of trends in values across sites and times are provided in detail in a manuscript currently in the review process for an international journal [RSS to provide publication details once available], as well as in metadata supplied for the State of the Environment report. This metadata record provides links to each of the three datasets used in the synthesis, and links to access the derived biological indicator data reported in the 2016 SoE report. See "On-Line Resources" section.

  • The aim of this study is to use artificial boulders in the form of sandstone blocks to investigate the benthic cryptofaunal communities of subtidal rocky reefs; specifically to quantify temporal and spatial patterns, the influence of the sub-block reef profile, and protection from fishing on these animals at locations inside and external to the Maria Island marine reserve in eastern Tasmania.

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project A8 - "Exploring the status of Western Australia’s sea snakes". For specific data outputs from this project, please see child records associated with this metadata. -------------------- All sea snakes are listed marine species under the EPBC Act and three Australian endemic species are listed as Critically Endangered or Endangered, and as such are a national conservation priority. This project examines existing data from the northwest marine region to define sea snake relative abundance and distribution patterns, including within CMRs, to refine species status. Synthesis of existing data will be useful to DOE, DPaW, Parks Australia and others. This analysis will help establish baseline data, guide future research, define abundance in and use of CMRs and refine EPBC listings and recovery plans. Planned Outputs • A report outlining the presence and relative abundance of sea snakes in northwestern Australia with a focus on reef and shoal habitats including identification of BIAs or key habitats where possible. Research and management priorities will be highlighted. • Presentation of results to key stakeholders and end users • Presentation of recommendations at scientific conferences • Communication of findings to the broader community via social media

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Emerging Priorities project - "Spatial distribution of marine wildlife in the Bremer Bay region". For specific data outputs from this project, please see child records associated with this metadata. -------------------- The Bremer Canyon system is a recognised aggregation area for marine wildlife and predictable aggregations of the orca (Orcinus orca) underpin local ecotourism. Additionally, the value of the region has been recognised in the establishment of the Bremer Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) ( and the identification of the Albany canyon group and adjacent shelf break as a Key Ecological Feature in the South-West Marine Bioregional Plan (;jsessionid=01AD87551D0DE1B0248C8722BE137004). Little is known about the shelf and canyon region given its remote location and the relatively high cost of conducting offshore research. However, citizen-driven science has documented a stable aggregation of marine wildlife including orcas, sperm whales (Physeter microcephalus), and giant squid (Architeuthis sp.) occurring to the west of the established CMR. There is also speculation that this stable wildlife aggregation may be driven by seabed oil seeps with a hydrocarbon-based food chain although this is unsubstantiated. The potential uniqueness of this wildlife aggregation within the region and what drives its presence remains unknown. There is a significant need to determine the regional importance of this aggregation and its relation to the existing protection afforded by the Bremer CMR. The objective of this project is to improve the understanding of the importance of the Bremer CMR and surrounding region to marine wildlife. The project will determine the distribution of key wildlife of interest across the recognised pelagic aggregation and the Bremer CMR in order to inform Australian Government decision-making to protect the environment, conserve biodiversity and allow for sustainable use. The project will also improve understanding about the likely causes for wildlife aggregations and provide recommendations for future research options. Planned Outputs • A workshop of key experts, managers and external stakeholders to build on the literature review, identify additional data sources and recommend research priorities; • A workshop report including a literature review to synthesise existing information, data and publications on the region in relation to wildlife aggregations, general ecology, oceanography and productivity; • Marine wildlife survey – given the need to cover a large spatial area (i.e. the CMR and the known aggregation area in a single day), the preferred method is for an aerial survey with two observers. We propose that the team mobilises from Esperance given proximity to the CMR and ability to refuel etc. A team of two (2) scientific observers will be included plus an opportunity for an additional observer. The research will involve five (5) days of aerial surveying over no more than a seven (7) day period. The project will investigate the occurrence and distribution of orcas both inside and outside the known aggregation area (including the Bremer CMR). • Analysis of existing acoustic data – Curtin University holds data from acoustic surveys and will interpret these data in the context of distinguishing the presence and distribution of orcas, other cetaceans and other biota. • Analysis of existing orca distribution data within the aggregation – Curtin University has previously collected data on visual sightings of orcas at the aggregation. These data will be the spatial and temporal distribution of orcas at the aggregation site. This has the capacity to identify key patterns in orca behaviour within the known aggregation area. • Collation of orca observations held by ecotourism operator Naturaliste Charter – this collation will provide the opportunity to determine how best to use these data and generate communication products given the collection of imagery. • Pelagic fish survey – an existing planned survey to the Bremer CMR will be extended to include the aggregation area to allow the diversity, abundance and biomass of pelagic sharks and fishes in the CMR and the aggregation area to be compared. This will allow a comparison of the relative richness of the known aggregation area to the CMR with respect to pelagic shark and fish abundance. • Hydrocarbon signals in squid - Preliminary investigation into whether hydrocarbon signals can be detected in squid as a first step in determining whether the wildlife aggregation may be supported by hydrocarbon seeps. Murdoch University hold squid samples from the aggregation area that form the basis of this analysis. • Movement data to determine how adult orcas use the Bremer CMR and the aggregation area - tags will also be placed on at least three (3) adult orcas from the known aggregation site to clarify if those individual orcas are also transiting or using the Bremer CMR. • Knowledge exchange and communication outputs – each component of the project will produce materials for use by Parks Australia. Likely considerations are 3D fly-thru, animations, infographics, brochure, videos, articles. • Reporting outputs – a progress report focussing on completed field work and preliminary results will be produced followed by a final synthesis report.

  • This record provides an overview of the scope and research output of NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub Project A4 - "The status of human-shark interactions and initiatives to mitigate risk in Australia". For specific data outputs from this project, please see child records associated with this metadata. -------------------- Considerable political, public and media attention has recently been focussed on human-shark interactions, specifically surrounding shark attack and ways to mitigate this risk. Finding the most appropriate policy balance between conservation of sharks, maximising public safety and understanding the broader social and economic ramifications/drivers for doing so is a continuing challenge for Government. This project will review the status of human-shark interactions in Australia, provide a synthesis of current initiatives to reduce risk, review recent international efforts to address these issues and identify knowledge gaps to provide an informed base for determining the most appropriate future research and policy support. The project will develop a background document that: • Provides a synthesis of the current state of knowledge of shark-human interactions in Australia, focussing specifically on species such as white sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks • Identifies what initiatives are currently underway nationally to address human-shark interactions including the status of current research as well as current management and policy initiatives. • Identifies technological developments within Australia and internationally in this space • Identifies lessons and experiences from these initiatives • Identifies issues and knowledge gaps • Provides guidance to the Department regarding further investment that is cognisant of State Government initiatives and requirements and ensure a coordinated national knowledge base for addressing these issues