Spatial Dynamics of Isolated Coral Reef Atolls

Objective: To quantify baseline spatial dynamics of key biological communities and their physical drivers at an isolated atoll system, the Rowley Shoals, in an adaptive monitoring program that addresses processes of change and integrates new technologies for autonomous and automated processing of data.

AIMS Research Vessel Solander steaming past a remote reef off the north west coast of Australia






Biophysical Model for the Rowley Shoals (Project 4a)

4a.1: Habitat Map and Benthic Biophysical Model

Desktop compilation of physical and biological data and gap identification;

Offshore vessel-based collection of physical and biological data to fill data gaps;

Integration of all data and development of final biophysical model identifying distribution of key communities and physical drivers.


4a.2: Biophysical Model of Fish and Shark Abundance and Distribution

Offshore vessel-based collection of fish and shark abundance and distribution using BRUVS and telemetry (4b.3) and integration with habitat model developed in Project 4a.1.


4a.3: Estimating the Abundance and Diversity of Fishes and Sharks Using eDNA

Genetic analyses of water samples (eDNA) to provide a proof of concept platform to test suitability of eDNA for estimating species composition, distribution and abundance.

Adaptive Monitoring at the Rowley Shoals (Project 4b)

4b.1: Adaptive Monitoring and Baseline Dynamics

Offshore vessel-based survey of monitoring sites based on results of the biophysical model (Project 4a.1) and likely disturbance regimes;

Offshore vessel-based survey in response to satellite-detected disturbance for ground-truthing of impacts;

Offshore vessel-based baseline survey of recovery.


4b.2: Coral and Demersal Fish Connectivity

Offshore vessel-based collection of coral and fish at sites monitoring in Project 4a.1 to evaluate the importance of connectivity for recruitment and recovery.


4b.3: Shark and Predatory Fish Movement, Distribution and Connectivity

Offshore vessel-based deployment of satellite transmitters and acoustic transmitters/receivers to provide data on movement, connectivity and habitat use of target species of significance.


4b.4: Fine-Scale Oceanographic Model

Desktop development to enable a predictive basis for coral larval dispersal and settlement and validated using the results of Project 4a.1, 4b.1 and 4b.2.