Assessment of Techniques for Determining the Health of Tropical Estuarine Ecosystems

Sheaves, Marcus, Connolly, Rod, and Johnston, Ross (2007) Assessment of Techniques for Determining the Health of Tropical Estuarine Ecosystems. Report. Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, Cairns. (Unpublished)

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Estuarine ecosystems around the world are suffering the deleterious effects of human activities, and the threats to the ecosystem health of estuaries are likely to be amplified by the global climate change. Increased understanding of these threats has prompted a widespread catchment-to-coast focus on understanding ecosystem health, with explicit recognition of the pivotal role of estuaries. Understanding the forces affecting the health of tropical estuaries and of methods for measuring environmental health is crucial for developing appropriate and effective environmental management strategies. While there is a large amount of information about detecting impacts and measuring ecosystem health in temperate estuaries, the extent to which temperate approaches are transferable to tropical/subtropical systems is unclear. There have been no location-specific studies evaluating the appropriateness of extrapolation from temperate to tropical understanding. In particular, biochemical processes such as toxicity, persistence and accumulation rates are likely to differ between cooler temperate and warmer tropical systems). Contrasts in functioning of tropical compared to temperate estuaries are likely to be compounded by the much higher biological diversity present in tropical estuaries, which potentially leads to more complex ecological processes. High diversity might also equate to high variability, adding another layer of complexity. Ecosystem health is a combination of three factors: resistance, organisation and vigour, all of which are ultimately functions of ecological processes. Ecosystem health might therefore be considered as more closely aligned with the integrity of ecological processes than the health or abundance of individual species or groups of species. Definitive measurement of ecosystem health therefore requires approaches that provide measures of the integrity of ecological processes.

Item ID: 8489
Item Type: Report (Report)
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Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2010 01:28
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960502 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic Environments @ 100%
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