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Blakeway D.,MScience Pty Ltd | Byers M.,MScience Pty Ltd | Stoddart J.,MScience Pty Ltd | Rossendell J.,Rio Tinto Alcan
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

A 0.6 hectare artificial reef of local rock and recycled concrete sleepers was constructed in December 2006 at Parker Point in the industrial port of Dampier, western Australia, with the aim of providing an environmental offset for a nearshore coral community lost to land reclamation. Corals successfully colonised the artificial reef, despite the relatively harsh environmental conditions at the site (annual water temperature range 18-32°C, intermittent high turbidity, frequent cyclones, frequent nearby ship movements). Coral settlement to the artificial reef was examined by terracotta tile deployments, and later stages of coral community development were examined by in-situ visual surveys within fixed 25 x 25 cm quadrats on the rock and concrete substrates. Mean coral density on the tiles varied from 113 ± 17 SE to 909 ± 85 SE per m2 over five deployments, whereas mean coral density in the quadrats was only 6.0 ± 1.0 SE per m2 at eight months post construction, increasing to 24.0 ± 2.1 SE per m2 at 62 months post construction. Coral taxa colonising the artificial reef were a subset of those on the surrounding natural reef, but occurred in different proportions-Pseudosiderastrea tayami, Mycedium elephantotus and Leptastrea purpurea being disproportionately abundant on the artificial reef. Coral cover increased rapidly in the later stages of the study, reaching 2.3 ± 0.7 SE % at 62 months post construction. This study indicates that simple materials of opportunity can provide a suitable substrate for coral recruitment in Dampier Harbour, and that natural colonisation at the study site remains sufficient to initiate a coral community on artificial substrate despite ongoing natural and anthropogenic perturbations. © 2013 Blakeway et al.


Khan J.A.,James Cook University | Welsh J.Q.,James Cook University | Welsh J.Q.,MScience Pty Ltd | Bellwood D.R.,James Cook University
Coral Reefs | Year: 2015

Mortality is considered to be an important factor shaping the structure of coral reef fish communities, but data on the rate and nature of mortality of adult coral reef fishes are sparse. Mortality on coral reefs is intrinsically linked with predation, with most evidence suggesting that predation is highest during crepuscular periods. We tested this hypothesis using passive acoustic telemetry data to determine the time of day of potential mortality events (PMEs) of adult herbivorous reef fishes. A total of 94 fishes were tagged with acoustic transmitters, of which 43 exhibited a PME. Furthermore, we identified five categories of PMEs based on the nature of change in acoustic signal detections from tagged fishes. The majority of PMEs were characterised by an abrupt stop in detections, possibly as a result of a large, mobile predator. Overall, mortality rates were estimated to be approximately 59 % per year using passive acoustic telemetry. The time of day of PMEs suggests that predation was highest during the day and crepuscular periods and lowest at night, offering only partial support for the crepuscular predation hypothesis. Visually oriented, diurnal and crepuscular predators appear to be more important than their nocturnal counterparts in terms of predation on adult reef fishes. By timing PMEs, passive acoustic telemetry may offer an important new tool for investigating the nature of predation on coral reefs. © 2015 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg


Stoddart J.A.,MScience Pty Ltd
AusIMM Bulletin | Year: 2010

The pain in port development occurs when port operators attempt to extend overstretched facilities outside of existing footprints and into these relatively undisturbed habitats. Each expansion project must run the course of determining how much it can minimize its impact and still be viable or if it is approvable at all. In the absence of an agreed vision for the environment-development balance, there is rarely any coordination of environmental activities between port users within the same port. While constructing working plans for the future of a port may be problematic, without an agreed plan, each individual development will continue to suffer the pain of debating how much conservation is enough and what parts of the marine habitat may or may not be lost and the significance of such losses. In some Australian states, regulators have attempted to provide an approach to the problem that guides developers as to what may be acceptable in the absence of an understanding of how the system functions.


Welsh J.Q.,MScience Pty Ltd | Welsh J.Q.,James Cook University | Bellwood D.R.,James Cook University
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Ecosystem degradation has become common throughout the world. On coral reefs, macroalgal outbreaks are one of the most widely documented signs of degradation. This study simulated local-scale degradation on a healthy coral reef to determine how resident taxa, with the potential to reverse algal outbreaks, respond. We utilized a combination of acoustic and video monitoring to quantify changes in the movements and densities, respectively, of coral reef herbivores following a simulated algal outbreak. We found an unprecedented accumulation of functionally important herbivorous taxa in response to algal increases. Herbivore densities increased by 267% where algae were present. The increase in herbivore densities was driven primarily by an accumulation of the browsing taxa Naso unicornis and Kyphosus vaigiensis, two species which are known to be important in removing macroalgae and which may be capable of reversing algal outbreaks. However, resident individuals at the site of algal increase exhibited no change in their movements. Instead, analysis of the size classes of the responding individuals indicates that large functionally-important non-resident individuals changed their movement patterns to move in and feed on the algae. This suggests that local-scale reef processes may not be sufficient to mitigate the effects of local degradation and highlights the importance of mobile links and cross-scale interactions. © 2015 Welsh, Bellwood. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Baird A.H.,James Cook University | Blakeway D.R.,MScience Pty Ltd | Hurley T.J.,MScience Pty Ltd | Stoddart J.A.,MScience Pty Ltd
Marine Biology | Year: 2011

Coral spawning in Western Australia (WA) occurs predominantly in the austral autumn in contrast to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) on Australia's east coast where most spawning occurs in spring. Recent work, however, suggests a second spawning period in northern WA with at least 16 Acropora spp spawning in spring or early summer. This discovery has initiated a re-examination of reproductive seasonality in northern WA, particularly on inshore reefs adjacent to large development projects, such as the site of this study in Mermaid Sound, in the Dampier Archipelago. Three locally abundant taxa, Porites spp, Pavona decussata and Turbinaria mesenterina were sampled monthly from September 2006 to May 2007 to determine sexuality, the mode of reproduction and the time of gamete maturity. All three taxa were gonochoric broadcast spawners. Porites spp. colonies were mature in November and December, P. decussata in March and April. In contrast, most colonies of T. mesenterina contained mature gametes for up to 5 months beginning in November, suggesting either individuals are releasing gametes on multiple occasions, or they retain mature gametes for more than 1 month. Field surveys to determine the reproductive status of the remaining coral assemblage were conducted prior to the full moon in October 2006 and March 2007. Only four species contained mature gametes in October 2006. In contrast, 55 species contained mature gametes in March 2007. We conclude that the major spawning season of corals on shallow-inshore reefs in the Dampier Archipelago is autumn, although taxa that spawn in spring and summer include Porites spp., Acropora spp. and possibly T. mesenterina that are numerically dominant at many of these sites. Consequently, management initiatives to limit the exposure of coral spawn to stressors associated with coastal development may be required in up to five months per year. © 2010 Springer-Verlag.


Stoddart C.W.,University of Western Australia | Stoddart J.A.,MScience Pty Ltd | Blakeway D.R.,MScience Pty Ltd
Coral Reefs | Year: 2012

Most coral species off Australia's west coast spawn in the austral autumn (March-April), with a few species also spawning in the southern spring or early summer (November-December). This is the reverse timing to spawning recorded off Australia's east coast. Porites lutea, a gonochoric broadcast spawner that is common on Australia's west coast, is shown here to spawn in the months of November or December, as it does on Australia's east coast. Spawning occurred between 2 and 5 nights after full moon, with the majority of spawning activity on night 3. Gametes developed over three to four months with rapid development in the last two weeks before spawning. Zooxanthellae were typically observed in mature oocytes, only a week before spawning so their presence may provide a useful indicator of imminent spawning. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.


Hovey R.K.,University of Western Australia | Statton J.,University of Western Australia | Fraser M.W.,University of Western Australia | Ruiz-Montoya L.,University of Western Australia | And 5 more authors.
Marine Pollution Bulletin | Year: 2015

We investigated the phenology and spatial patterns in Halophila decipiens by assessing biomass, reproduction and seed density in ~. 400 grab samples collected across nine sites (8 to 14. m water depth) between June 2011 and December 2012. Phenology correlated with light climate which is governed by the summer monsoon (wet period). During the wet period, sedimentary seed banks prevailed, varying spatially at both broad and fine scales, presenting a source of propagules for re-colonisation following the unfavourable growing conditions of the monsoon. Spatial patterns in H. decipiens biomass following monsoon conditions were highly variable within a landscape that largely comprised potential seagrass habitat. Management strategies for H. decipiens and similar transient species must recognise the high temporal and spatial variability of these populations and be underpinned by a framework that emphasises vulnerability assessments of different life stages instead of relying solely on thresholds for standing stock at fixed reference sites. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


PubMed | MScience Pty Ltd
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2013

A 0.6 hectare artificial reef of local rock and recycled concrete sleepers was constructed in December 2006 at Parker Point in the industrial port of Dampier, western Australia, with the aim of providing an environmental offset for a nearshore coral community lost to land reclamation. Corals successfully colonised the artificial reef, despite the relatively harsh environmental conditions at the site (annual water temperature range 18-32C, intermittent high turbidity, frequent cyclones, frequent nearby ship movements). Coral settlement to the artificial reef was examined by terracotta tile deployments, and later stages of coral community development were examined by in-situ visual surveys within fixed 25 x 25 cm quadrats on the rock and concrete substrates. Mean coral density on the tiles varied from 113 17 SE to 909 85 SE per m(2) over five deployments, whereas mean coral density in the quadrats was only 6.0 1.0 SE per m(2) at eight months post construction, increasing to 24.0 2.1 SE per m(2) at 62 months post construction. Coral taxa colonising the artificial reef were a subset of those on the surrounding natural reef, but occurred in different proportions--Pseudosiderastrea tayami, Mycedium elephantotus and Leptastrea purpurea being disproportionately abundant on the artificial reef. Coral cover increased rapidly in the later stages of the study, reaching 2.3 0.7 SE % at 62 months post construction. This study indicates that simple materials of opportunity can provide a suitable substrate for coral recruitment in Dampier Harbour, and that natural colonisation at the study site remains sufficient to initiate a coral community on artificial substrate despite ongoing natural and anthropogenic perturbations.


PubMed | University of Western Australia and MScience Pty Ltd.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Marine pollution bulletin | Year: 2015

We investigated the phenology and spatial patterns in Halophila decipiens by assessing biomass, reproduction and seed density in ~400 grab samples collected across nine sites (8 to 14 m water depth) between June 2011 and December 2012. Phenology correlated with light climate which is governed by the summer monsoon (wet period). During the wet period, sedimentary seed banks prevailed, varying spatially at both broad and fine scales, presenting a source of propagules for re-colonisation following the unfavourable growing conditions of the monsoon. Spatial patterns in H. decipiens biomass following monsoon conditions were highly variable within a landscape that largely comprised potential seagrass habitat. Management strategies for H. decipiens and similar transient species must recognise the high temporal and spatial variability of these populations and be underpinned by a framework that emphasises vulnerability assessments of different life stages instead of relying solely on thresholds for standing stock at fixed reference sites.

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