Distribution and spatial modelling of a soft coral habitat in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park: implications for management

Poulos, Davina E., Gallen, Christopher, Davis, Tom, Booth, David J., and Harasti, David (2016) Distribution and spatial modelling of a soft coral habitat in the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park: implications for management. Marine and Freshwater Research, 67 (2). pp. 256-265.

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Habitat mapping is a useful method for understanding the complex spatial relationships that exist in the marine environment, and is used to evaluate the effectiveness of management strategies, particularly in regards to marine protected areas. This study explored the observed and predicted distribution of an uncommon soft coral species, Dendronephthya australis within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park. Dendronephthya australis was mapped by video operated by a SCUBA diver towing a time synchronised GPS. A species distribution model was created to explore the possible occurrence of D. australis outside of the mapped area, using four environmental parameters: bathymetry, slope of seabed, velocity of tidal currents, and distance from estuary mouth. Dendronephthya australis colonies occurred along the southern shoreline in the Port Stephens estuary between Fly Point and Corlette Point, but no colonies were found within sanctuary (no-take) zones within the marine park. The model illustrated limited habitat suitability for D. australis within a larger section of the estuary, suggesting this species has specific environmental requirements survival. Owing to its current threats (anchor damage and fishing line entanglement), implications from these findings will assist future management and protection decisions, particularly in regard to its protection within a marine park.

Item ID: 43228
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-6059
Keywords: Dendronephthya australis, estuary, marine protected area, Maxent, species distribution model, towed-GPS
Funders: Hunter–Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority (CMA)
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2016 07:41
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960503 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Coastal and Estuarine Environments @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
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