Lord Howe Island, Australia
Lord Howe Island, Australia

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Poulos D.E.,University of Technology, Sydney | Harasti D.,New South Wales Marine Parks Authority | Gallen C.,New South Wales Marine Parks Authority | Booth D.J.,University of Technology, Sydney
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems | Year: 2013

A threatened and uncommon soft coral species, Dendronephthya australis found in large abundance in Port Stephens, within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park (PSGLMP), New South Wales, Australia, was hypothesized to be an important habitat for many marine fishes and invertebrates, but is currently under threat from boat anchors, fishing debris entanglement and sand inundation. Surveys were undertaken to assess the biodiversity associated with the soft coral habitat and its adjacent habitats (sponge, seagrass and unvegetated sand), using a combination of Underwater Visual Census (UVC) and Baited Remote Underwater Video System (BRUVS) techniques. In total, 77 fish species and 21 invertebrate species utilized the D. australis habitat, and multivariate fish assemblages associated with soft corals were significantly different to those associated with nearby sponges, seagrass and sand habitats. Species richness of fishes and invertebrates were significantly higher in soft coral and sponge habitats than seagrass. The D. australis habitat was found to be of high importance to juvenile snapper (Pagrus auratus: Sparidae), a species of recreational and commercial fishery importance, which occurred in highest abundance within D. australis, and were significantly smaller in size within the soft coral habitat than the adjacent sponge habitat. Evidently, this rare soft coral habitat supports an extensive marine assemblage, potentially providing a valuable source of food and shelter for fishes and invertebrates, and given it is threatened by human-induced impacts, its protection should be a priority. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Edgar G.J.,Aquenal Pty Ltd | Edgar G.J.,University of Tasmania | Davey A.,Aquenal Pty Ltd | Kelly G.,New South Wales Marine Parks Authority | And 2 more authors.
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems | Year: 2010

1. Quantitative subtidal surveys of fishes, macro-invertebrates and sessile organisms at 33 sites within the Lord Howe Island Marine Park revealed a rich fauna and flora, including 164 fishes, 40 mobile invertebrate taxa, 53 coral and other sessile invertebrate taxa, 32 algal taxa, and two seagrasses. The biota in this newly-zoned marine park was overwhelmingly tropical when species lists were tabulated; however, species with distributions centred on temperate coasts of eastern Australia and New Zealand occurred in disproportionately high densities compared with the tropical species. 2. Lord Howe Island reefs were generally in good condition. Virtually no bleached coral was observed (0.2% of the reef surface; 0.8% of total hard coral cover). Living scleractinian coral comprised the predominant group of organisms growing on reef surfaces, with 25.5% cover overall. Other major taxa observed were brown algae (18.8% cover) and red algae (16.9% cover). 3. Three distinctive community types were identified within the marine park-coral reefs, macroalgal beds and an offshore/open coast community. The distribution of these community types was strongly related to wave exposure, as indicated by an extremely high correlation with the first principal coordinates axis for biotic data (R2=0.80). 4. The close (<3km) proximity of tropical coral and temperate macroalgal community types off Lord Howe Island is highly unusual, with localized patterns of nutrient enrichment suggested as the primary cause. The macroalgal community type is only known from a small area off the south-western coast that is not protected from fishing. This community is considered highly susceptible to threats because of potential impacts of global warming and the possibility of expansion of sea urchin barrens. Coral bleaching and ocean acidification associated with global climate change also threaten the coral reef community, which includes relatively high numbers of endemic and near endemic fish species. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Coleman M.A.,New South Wales Marine Parks Authority | Chambers J.,Australian Genome Research Facility Ltd. | Knott N.A.,New South Wales Marine Parks Authority | Malcolm H.A.,New South Wales Marine Parks Authority | And 3 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Networks of marine reserves are increasingly being promoted as a means of conserving marine biodiversity. One consideration in designing systems of marine reserves is the maintenance of connectivity to ensure the long-term persistence and resilience of populations. Knowledge of connectivity, however, is frequently lacking during marine reserve design and establishment. We characterise patterns of genetic connectivity of 3 key species of habitat-forming macroalgae across an established network of temperate marine reserves on the east coast of Australia and the implications for adaptive management and marine reserve design. Connectivity varied greatly among species. Connectivity was high for the subtidal macroalgae Ecklonia radiata and Phyllospora comosa and neither species showed any clear patterns of genetic structuring with geographic distance within or among marine parks. In contrast, connectivity was low for the intertidal, Hormosira banksii, and there was a strong pattern of isolation by distance. Coastal topography and latitude influenced small scale patterns of genetic structure. These results suggest that some species are well served by the current system of marine reserves in place along this temperate coast but it may be warranted to revisit protection of intertidal habitats to ensure the long-term persistence of important habitat-forming macroalgae. Adaptively managing marine reserve design to maintain connectivity may ensure the long-term persistence and resilience of marine habitats and the biodiversity they support. © 2011 Coleman et al.

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