Water quality is a key factor for the health and productivity of marine ecosystems. It is a combination of the water's characteristics, such as temperature, salinity, acidity, clarity, oxygen content, nutrient and suspended sediment levels, organic matter content, and toxic pollutant loads.
The AIMS Water Quality and Ecosystem Health Team studies water quality and the movement of water, nutrients and sediment. It also investigates and monitors the health of reef organisms in relation to water quality and develops indicators and bioassays for reef organism health, and for impact assessments of aquaculture and other coastal industries.
The central goal is to understand the temporal and spatial dimensions of water quality of tropical marine waters and the responses of key organisms, communities and ecosystems to water quality.
An emerging area of research is the interaction between water quality and climate change. While water quality stress to marine systems is predominantly local or regional, the effects of climate change are global. It will be vital to understand the interactions between the two stressors and to predict the combined impacts.
The geographic focus of the team's research is tropical Northern Australia with particular emphasis on the Great Barrier Reef, and neighbouring Southeast Asia for a small number of applied studies.
This research supports informed management, conservation and sustainable use of marine, coastal and catchment resources, especially by the tourism and aquaculture industries.
The team's research approaches reflect its multidisciplinary skill base, including biological oceanography, biogeochemistry, benthic ecology, ecotoxicology, molecular- and microbiology, environmental genetics and ecosystem modelling.
Team leader:Dr Britta Schaffelke (CV)