Our research

Our Research

The Australasian CoE has undertaken a number of research and capacity building activities over Phase One including:

1. Climate Change and Coral Bleaching

Capitalising on existing funding for research through the Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland and the Bleaching Working Group, the Australasian Centre of Excellence has engaged in a program to develop the portfolio of knowledge relating to climate change impacts on coral reefs.Research areas include:

Tracing the origins of stress in the symbionts of reef-building corals

    • Solar radiation, coral bleaching and climate change
    • Ecology, physiology and molecular microbiology of coral disease on the Great Barrier Reef
    • Great Barrier Reef water quality and connectivity between coral reef ecosystems
    • Understanding the risk of ocean acidification for coral reefs

Collated information on the results of this research, which has contributed to an improved understanding of the impact of climate change on coral reefs has been incorporated into the final report on the findings of the CRTR Bleaching Working Group.Detailed information on the research findings can be found in the BWG Final Report.

2. Managers tool package for assessing coral reef community responses under environmental stress

This Packard Foundation funded project, undertaken by Dr Ken Anthony is developing an information tool package that can help managers assess how coral-reef communities will change in response to environmental stress scenarios. The project’s approach is combining environmental, biological and ecological information from multiple sources and across multiple scales to produce semi-quantitative estimates of reef resilience.

To-date the project has:

    • Developed and strengthened partnerships with senior reef managers and park rangers of the Karimunjawa Ocean Park (KJOP) in Indonesia, which is a marine park reserve surrounding the islands. This relationship has now culminated in the delivery of capacity building material for local schools, university courses, as well as for reef managers.
    • Developed new models underpinning the analyses of reef resilience and sustainability of Indonesian reefs. Specifically the project team has developed new reef resilience model for how climate change will interact with local-scale disturbances, including overfishing, declining water quality and physical disturbance processes. One paper is published in the prestigious journal Conservation Biology and another paper is in review.
    • SihamAfatta, aMSc student under the project, has made excellent progress on the socio-economic aspects of the project. He is currently finalizing a synthesis paper, reviewing how (1) the combined environmental and socioeconomic drivers are constraining reef sustainability in Indonesia and specifically on Karimunjawa Islands, and what opportunities are available for management interaction.
    • Continued training of Indonesian students in resilience-based analyses of reef health and sustainability. The multi-tiered capacity building approach is promising good results as it provides educational opportunities for all levels of the community, and can remain a source of learning after the project is completed.
    • The team has produced new material and models for how linked socioeconomic drivers and ecological processes affect reef vulnerability and resilience. Using Karimunjawa Islands as a case study, this framework will be used to provide recommendation for optimal management planning and strategies for reef sustainability.

As a culmination of their work, the project team is currently developing a manual to assist managers in assessing coral reef community responses, which will include information and findings from the Project.

3. Coastal Remote Sensing Toolkit

The CoE has been a key supporter of the Coastal Remote Sensing Toolkit which shows managers, scientists and technicians working in coastal marine environments how images, collected from satellites and aircraft, can be used to map and monitor changes to indicators of coastal ecosystem health.A revised version of the toolkit will focus on marine, terrestrial and atmospheric environments, and is due for release in April/May 2010.

4. Local Government Initiative: Kahua District, Makira Province, Solomon Islands

As part of the CRTR Program’s Local Government Initiative, the Australasian Centre of Excellence (CoE) was invited to work with the Kahua Association in the Makira-Ulawa Province in the Solomon Islands to determine coastal impacts and prioritise an action list on how the community can work towards reducing these impacts.

The first stage of the project involved a rapid survey of the coastal and marine resources of Kahua. This investigation involved a number of community meetings and qualitative underwater surveys along the coast from Rama in Western Kahua to Pehuru in the east. Observations from the survey looked at economic drivers, the use of marine resources, level of fishing effort, environmental damage, the state of the environment, and the level of existing capacity.

As a result of the survey, the CRTR CoE team recommended three measures that the KA could coordinate to help improve the sustainability of the region’s marine resources:

    • Introduce an education program into the region’s schools, through the provision of teaching texts, so that future generations better understand the marine environment
    • Establish no-take (taboo) areas for shellfish collection
    • Begin a simple monitoring program to establish a baseline for the amount of marine resources harvested.

To read more about the project click here 

5. Capacity building in ecosystem-based management approaches for the coastal areas and coral reefs in the Maldives

This project aimed at building on the existing experience and knowledge of environmental managers obtained from previous projects, to enable the Government of the Republic of the Maldives to develop sustainable and practical interventions for the conservation of coral reef biodiversity.

The project contained a series of activities, which transferred capacity building skills and expertise to strengthen institutional capacity for governance and management of marine resources.The activities included targeted training courses and study tours, as well as mentoring which led to the development of an Ecosystem-based Management Plan for Atolls.

 

    
 
 
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