A spatial analysis of seagrass habitat and community diversity in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area

Carter, Alex B., Collier, Catherine, Lawrence, Emma, Rasheed, Michael A., Robson, Barbara J., and Coles, Rob (2021) A spatial analysis of seagrass habitat and community diversity in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Scientific Reports, 11. 22344.

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Abstract

The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) in north eastern Australia spans 2,500 km of coastline and covers an area of ~350,000 km2. It includes one of the world’s largest seagrass resources. To provide a foundation to monitor, establish trends and manage the protection of seagrass meadows in the GBRWHA we quantified potential seagrass community extent using six random forest models that include environmental data and seagrass sampling history. We identified 88,331 km2 of potential seagrass habitat in intertidal and subtidal areas: 1,111 km2 in estuaries, 16,276 km2 in coastal areas, and 70,934 km2 in reef areas. Thirty-six seagrass community types were defined by species assemblages within these habitat types using multivariate regression tree models. We show that the structure, location and distribution of the seagrass communities is the result of complex environmental interactions. These environmental conditions include depth, tidal exposure, latitude, current speed, benthic light, proportion of mud in the sediment, water type, water temperature, salinity, and wind speed. Our analysis will underpin spatial planning, can be used in the design of monitoring programs to represent the diversity of seagrass communities and will facilitate our understanding of environmental risk to these habitats.

Item ID: 70922
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Keywords: seagrass, Great Barrier Reef, spatial, world heritage, diversity, ecological community, tropical
Copyright Information: Open Access. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Funders: National Environmental Science Program (NESP) Tropical Water Quality (TWQ) Hub
Projects and Grants: NESP 5.4
Research Data: https://doi.org/10.25909/y1yk-9w85, https://doi.org/10.26274/J6B6-PH79, https://doi.org/10.26274/NRE6-YS16
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2021 23:27
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180203 Coastal or estuarine biodiversity @ 25%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180504 Marine biodiversity @ 25%
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