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EARTH SCIENCE | BIOLOGICAL CLASSIFICATION | ANIMALS/VERTEBRATES | FISH

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  • Policy and decision makers often seek guidance as to the benefits of conservation and repair of coastal seascapes, to justify and underpin any potential investments. Much is already known about the broad habitat and nursery values of seascapes among the science community, but there is also a need for estimation of clear and unambiguous market-based benefits that may arise from investment in repair. Recognising that this economic knowledge is imperfect for Australian seascapes, three case studies spanning tropical, subtropical and temperate environments explored the benefits in question. The case studies focus on saltmarsh habitats in particular, which have received very little investment in repair despite subtropical and temperate coastal saltmarsh listed as vulnerable ecological community under Australian Federal legislation. A subset of economically important species and conservative judgments were used to characterise the minimum potential economic benefit. For each of the case studies the conclusion was that while the biological information will remain imperfect, the business case for investment in the repair and conservation of coastal seascapes is compelling. We outline priorities for further research to make the business case more tangible to policy makers, stakeholders and the general public.

  • Adult and sub-adult Red handfish (Thymichthys politus) and Spotted handfish (Brachionichthys hirsutus) preserved specimens and underwater images were used for analysing morphometrics (comprising of specimens from the CSIRO Australian National Fish Collection and underwater images). Individuals were measured for the morphological traits using electronic callipers (±0.1 mm) for preserved specimens and using Image J software for digital records. Note digital image size calibration occurred using a ruler in images or from size taken in situ. The purpose was to investigate whether external morphometrics could be used to determine sex in handfishes.

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    The data is the quantitative abundance of fish derived from underwater visual census methods involving transect counts at rocky reef sites around Tasmania. This data forms part of a larger dataset that also surveyed megafaunal invertebrate abundance and algal cover for the area. The aggregated dataset allows examination of changes in Tasmanian shallow reef floral and faunal communities over a decadal scale - initial surveys were conducted in 1992-1995, and again at the same sites in 2006-2007. There are plans for ongoing surveys. An additional component was added in the latter study - a boat ramp study looking at the proximity of boat ramps and their effects of fishing. We analysed underwater visual census data on fishes and macroinvertebrates (abalone and rock lobsters) at 133 shallow rocky reef sites around Tasmania that ranged from 0.6 - 131 km from the nearest boat ramp. These sites were not all the same as those used for the comparison of 1994 and 2006 reef communities. The subset of 133 sites examined in this component consisted of only those sites that were characterized by the two major algal (kelp) types (laminarian or fucoid dominated). Sites with atypical algal assemblages were omitted from the 196 sites surveyed in 2006. This study aimed to examine reef community data for changes at the community level, changes in species richness and introduced species populations, and changes that may have resulted from ocean warming and fishing. The methods are described in detail in Edgar and Barrett (1997). Primarily the data are derived from transects at 5 m depth and/or 10 m depth at each site surveyed. The underwater visual census (UVC) methodology used to survey rocky reef communities was designed to maximise detection of (i) changes in population numbers and size-structure (ii) cascading ecosystem effects associated with disturbances such as fishing, (iii) long term change and variability in reef assemblages.

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    The Tasman Fracture CMR AUV survey was a pilot study undertaken in 2014/15 as part of the National Marine Biodiversity Hub's National monitoring, evaluation and reporting theme. The aim of this theme is to develop a bluepint for the sustained monitoring of the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network. The particular aim of the survey was to contribute to an inventory of the distribution and abundance of demersal fishes in the reserve and adjacent reference sites using BRUVs. Data contained here represents footage collected using these drops and the associated scored data (abundance and lengths).

  • Baited remote underwater stereo-video (stereo-BRUV) were used to sample the fish assemblages of the Hunter Marine Park and adjacent Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park at equivalent depths. Stereo-BRUV were deployed in both autumn and spring from spring 2016 to autumn 2018 and at depth of 32-105m. The videos were analyse to all fish species to the lowest taxonmic level and estimate relative abundance (MaxN) and lengths of all species. This information was used to form a baseline of the benthic fish assemblages of the Hunter Marine Park. This study was done as part of the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub D3 project (https://www.nespmarine.edu.au/project/project-d3-implementing-monitoring-amps-and-status-marine-biodiversity-assets-continental).

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    The Flinders CMR survey was a pilot study undertaken in August 2012 as part of the National Marine Biodiversity Hub's National monitoring, evaluation and reporting theme. The aim of this theme is to develop a bluepint for the sustained monitoring of the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network. The particular aims of the survey were twofold; 1) to contribute to an inventory of demersal and epibenthic conservation values in the reserve and 2) to test methodologies and deployment strategies in order to inform future survey design efforts. Several gear types were deployed; including multibeam sonar, shallow-water (less than 150m) Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUVs), deep- water BRUVs, towed video and digital stereo stills. This resource contains the shallow-water BRUV footage captured on the FLinders CMR shelf (less than 150 m). Stereo BRUV's were deployed using a probabalistic and spatially-balanced survey design called Generalized Random Tessellation Stratified (GRTS). Habitats were identified in a previous multibeam survey and consisted of 'mixed reef' (containing patchy reef) and sand. Mixed reef habitat was targeted in this survey (9 GRTS mixed reef sites versus 3 sand sites). A total of 60 stereo BRUVs were deployed. Data contained here represents footage collected using these drops and the associated scored data (abundance (MaxN) and lengths).

  • Ecosystem data was collected as part of an integrated study of the continental shelf over a 2 and a half year period between November 2015 and January 2018. Data were collected bi-monthly through the spring to autumn (November, January, March, May). Stations were situated perpendicular to shelf bathymetry, ranging in depth from ~50 m to 100 m near the edge of the shelf and were located between 5 km and 15 km from land; encompassing from south Storm Bay, past the southern tip of Bruny Island and into the Southern Ocean (south-east Tasmania, Australia). Data collected focused on each trophic level, characterizing the zooplankton community, fish schools and marine predators. The overarching aim of the study was to investigate the effects of long term warming, and a marine heatwave event on zooplankton dynamics in terms of community response variables and the flow-on effects of changing lower-trophic level dynamics for top predators.

  • This dataset describes the relative abundance of an assemblage of commercially exploited demersal fishes in northwestern Australia, mapped over a 30 arc-minute (0.5 degree) spatial grid. The data cover the period 1997-2006 and are derived from an analysis of commercial landings available through the Sea Around Us Project (http://www.seaaroundus.org/). Further methodological details can be found in the following peer-reviewed publication, which applies the same analysis to a suite of mobile pelagic species: Bouchet PJ, Meeuwig JJ, Huang Z, Letessier TB, Nichol SL, Caley MJ, Watson RA. 2016. Continental-scale hotspots of pelagic fish abundance inferred from commercial catch records. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Below is a full list of species/genera/families considered, with their respective contributions to the total catch (%): -------------------------------------------------- Mustelus -- 26.1948% Platycephalidae -- 23.3191% Seriolella -- 10.8968% Sillaginidae -- 9.4242% Genypterus blacodes -- 5.8347% Pristiophorus -- 4.4934% Tetraodontidae -- 4.3235% Nemadactylus -- 4.2784% Squatinidae -- 3.6071% Mugilidae -- 3.181% Sparidae -- 2.7037% Chelidonichthys kumu -- 0.7146% Rajiformes -- 0.4497% Pterygotrigla polyommata -- 0.3911% Scorpaenidae -- 0.1292% Callorhinchus milii -- 0.0367% Rhombosolea -- 0.0046% Pleuronectiformes -- 0.0034% Leiognathidae -- 0.003% Lates calcarifer -- 0.0029% Ariidae -- 0.0025% Sciaenidae -- 0.0017% Nemipteridae -- 0.0014% Nemipterus -- 0.0014% Upeneus -- 0.001% Data will be attached to this record once analyses are completed, est. December 2016.

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    Opportunistic visual surveys were conducted in transit to, and within, the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) in the Timor Sea during September and October 2012 onboard the RV Solander. This resource comprises species lists and estimated counts of marine mammals, sea snakes, seabirds, sea turtles and other large wildlife encountered during the voyage. The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve survey was undertaken as an activity within the Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub and was the key component of Research Theme 4 - Regional Biodiversity Discovery to Support Marine Bioregional Plans. Hub partners involved in the survey included the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Geoscience Australia, the University of Western Australia, Museum Victoria and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Data acquired during the survey included: multibeam sonar bathymetry and acoustic backscatter; sub-bottom acoustic profiles; physical samples of seabed sediments, infauna and epibenthic biota; towed underwater video and still camera observations of seabed habitats; baited video observations of demersal and pelagic fish, and; oceanographic measurements of the water column from CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) casts and from deployment of sea surface drifters. Further information on the survey is available in the post-survey report published as Geoscience Australia Record 2013/38: Nichol, S.L., Howard, F.J.F., Kool, J., Stowar, M., Bouchet, P., Radke, L.,Siwabessy, J., Przeslawski, R., Picard, K., Alvarez de Glasby, B., Colquhoun, J., Letessier, T. & Heyward, A. 2013. Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (Timor Sea) Biodiversity Survey: GA0339/SOL5650 - Post Survey Report. Record 2013/38. Geoscience Australia: Canberra. (GEOCAT #76658).

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    This dataset derives from deployments of pelagic baited camera systems (stereo-BRUVS) conducted within the Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (CMR) in the Timor Sea during September and October 2012 onboard the RV Solander. This resource comprises species lists and relative abundance data (measured as MaxN, the maximum number of individuals of a given species captured in any one frame) for 116 sampling sites surveyed across three focal areas. The Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve survey was undertaken as an activity within the Australian Government's National Environmental Research Program Marine Biodiversity Hub and was the key component of Research Theme 4 - Regional Biodiversity Discovery to Support Marine Bioregional Plans. Hub partners involved in the survey included the Australian Institute of Marine Science, Geoscience Australia, the University of Western Australia, Museum Victoria and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Data acquired during the survey included: multibeam sonar bathymetry and acoustic backscatter; sub-bottom acoustic profiles; physical samples of seabed sediments, infauna and epibenthic biota; towed underwater video and still camera observations of seabed habitats; baited video observations of demersal and pelagic fish, and; oceanographic measurements of the water column from CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) casts and from deployment of sea surface drifters. Further information on the survey is available in the post-survey report published as Geoscience Australia Record 2013/38: Nichol, S.L., Howard, F.J.F., Kool, J., Stowar, M., Bouchet, P., Radke, L.,Siwabessy, J., Przeslawski, R., Picard, K., Alvarez de Glasby, B., Colquhoun, J., Letessier, T. & Heyward, A. 2013. Oceanic Shoals Commonwealth Marine Reserve (Timor Sea) Biodiversity Survey: GA0339/SOL5650 - Post Survey Report. Record 2013/38. Geoscience Australia: Canberra. (GEOCAT #76658).