Environmental Briefings

Environment Australia is tasked with managing the networks of Commonwealth Marine Reserves.  This is particularly challenging in the remote and poorly known N and NW regions.  For example, managers need to understand how biodiversity varies across these regions, but no dataset of this exists. To provide a starting point for building this knowledge, researchers from Australia's NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub's D1 project here highlight five key environmental variables that may help predict biodiversity patterns across the regions.

These variables were identified because continuous datasets of them are available over the entire N and NW regions, and they serve as proxies for other variables that may more directly affect biodiversity.  For example, no regional-scale dataset of substrate hardness currently exists, but avaliable datasets of bottom current velocity and geomorphic features help determine substrate hardness patterns.

Click on the name of each environmental variable  in the list below (depth, sediment grain size, chlorophyll-a, geomorphic features and bottom current velocity) to view an interactive map and read more about it.  More datasets will be added to the maps as they are uploaded to the NW Atlas.

 

Published on
15 December 2016

Bottom current velocity can affect abundance and biodiversity of benthic fauna by altering disturbance regimes, changing available habitats, and regulating nutrient flows.

Published on
15 December 2016

Geomorphologic features are categorical descriptors of the shape of the seabed that range in scale from thousands of km2 (e.g. basins) to tens of m2 (e.g.

Published on
15 December 2016

Chlorophyll-a can be estimated at continuous broad scales in the top layers of the ocean via satellite imagery (note this is different from chlorophyll-a in sediments).

Published on
15 December 2016

Sediment grain-size is often assumed to be a key driver of infaunal communities

Published on
15 December 2016

Depth is a consistently powerful explanatory variable in benthic studies (Gray 2001) due to its association with a range of other factors directly affecting abundance, bi