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EARTH SCIENCE | OCEANS | OCEAN CHEMISTRY | NUTRIENTS

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  • These data were collected on Southern Surveyor transit voyage SS2013_T01 from Sydney to Hobart in February 2013. The voyage was a teaching voyage as part of KSA724. Masters students participated in the collection of standard oceanographic data, focusing on eddies of the East Australian Current. This dataset includes for reference the nutrient and hydrography bottle data as produced by the Marine National Facility, as well as the fluorometrically determined extracted chlorophyll concentration

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    These data are from a piggy back voyage to IN2018_V05, October-November 2018. The Chief Scientists were Helen Phillips and Nathan Bindoff. Nic Pittman and Clara Vives collected biogeochemical data on the voyage, and Xiang Yang used these data in his Hons thesis 2020-2021. The purpose of the study was to investigate biogeochemical variability in the region of the Polar Front meander south of Tasmania. Data include CTD nutrients, chlorophyll and oxygen as well as underway phytoplankton physiology and pCO2. Some data are duplicated but not in exactly the same format on the CSIRO Data Trawler.

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    These data are from a voyage (IN2019_V01) on RV Investigator with the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD), that took place during January-March 2019. The Chief Scientist was Mike Double from the AAD. Clara R. Vives collected biogeochemical data on the voyage, and performed a series of incubation experiments for her PhD. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of iron and light on phytoplankton growth off East Antarcitca. Data include CTD nutrients, chlorophyll and oxygen as well as underway phytoplankton physiology (measured as the photochemical efficiency) and pCO2. Some data are duplicated but not in exactly the same format on the CSIRO Data Trawler.

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    Antarctic krill is a key component of Southern Ocean ecosystems and there is significant interest in identifying regions acting as sources for the krill population. We develop a mechanistic model combining thermal and food requirements for krill egg production, with predation pressure post-spawning, to predict regions that could support high larval production (spawning habitat). We optimise our model on regional data using a maximum likelihood approach and then generate circumpolar predictions of spawning habitat quality. The uploaded datasets represent model predictions of seasonal circumpolar spawning habitat quality of Antarctic krill as well as composite data of the circumpolar mean annual number of weeks in which modelled spawning habitat quality is higher than the summer 80th percentile.

  • Biogenic marine habitats are increasingly threatened by a multitude of human impacts, and temperate coasts in particular are exposed to progressively more intense and frequent anthropogenic stressors. In this study, the single and multiple effects of the urban stressors of nutrification and sedimentation on kelp bed communities were examined within Australia’s largest urbanised embayment (Port Phillip Bay, Victoria). Within this system, grazing by sea urchins (Heliocidaris erythrogramma) plays an important role in structuring reef communities by overgrazing kelp beds and maintaining an alternative and stable urchin barrens state. It is therefore important to explore the effects of urban stressors on kelp bed dynamics related to urchin abundance, and test the relative strengths of bottom-up and / or physical drivers (e.g. elevated nutrients and sediment) versus top-down (e.g. urchin grazing) forces on kelp bed community structure. The interactions of these drivers were assessed to determine whether their combination has synergistic, antagonistic, or additive effects on kelp beds. It was found that kelp responds positively to nutrient enhancement, but when combined with enhanced abundance of grazing sea urchins, the local positive effect of nutrient enhancement is overwhelmed by the negative effect of increased herbivory. Turf-forming algae behaved very differently, showing no detectable response to nutrification, yet showing a positive response to urchins, apparently mediated by overgrazing of canopy-forming algae that limit turf development. No direct effects of enhanced sediment load (at twice the ambient load) were found on intact kelp beds. Collectively, the results demonstrate that the ‘top-down’ control of urchin grazing locally overwhelms the positive ‘bottom-up’ effect of nutrient enhancement, and that intact kelp beds demonstrate resilience to direct impacts of urban stressors.

  • Shifts from productive kelp beds to impoverished sea urchin barrens occur globally and represent a wholesale change to the ecology of sub-tidal temperate reefs. Although the theory of shifts between alternative stable states is well advanced, there are few field studies detailing the dynamics of these kinds of transitions. In this study, sea urchin herbivory (a ‘top-down’ driver of ecosystems) was manipulated over 12 months to estimate (1) the sea urchin density at which kelp beds collapse to sea urchin barrens, and (2) the minimum sea urchin density required to maintain urchin barrens on experimental reefs in the urbanised Port Phillip Bay, Australia. In parallel, the role of one of the ‘bottom-up’ drivers of ecosystem structure was examined by (3) manipulating local nutrient levels and thus attempting to alter primary production on the experimental reefs. It was found that densities of 8 or more urchins m-2 (≥ 427 g m-2 biomass) lead to complete overgrazing of kelp beds while kelp bed recovery occurred when densities were reduced to ≤ 4 urchins m-2 (≤ 213 g m-2 biomass). This experiment provided further insight into the dynamics of transition between urchin barrens and kelp beds by exploring possible tipping-points which in this system can be found between 4 and 8 urchins m-2 (213 and 427 g m-2 respectively). Local enhancement of nutrient loading did not change the urchin density required for overgrazing or kelp bed recovery, as algal growth was not affected by nutrient enhancement.