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Research outcomes

The table below describe AIMS' contribution during 2013-14 to generating new knowledge for users of marine resources. 

Deliverable  Example of achievement 

Describe patterns of biodiversity from multiple ‘voyages of discovery’ to some of the most remote and inadequately surveyed areas of the continental shelf off north-west Australia in conjunction with WAMSI and Geoscience Australia

We are currently analysing data from our biodiversity voyages, and developing a predictive spatial model of benthic communities in the Oceanic Shoals bioregion. Additional analysis and spatial modelling are being conducted in collaboration with Geoscience Australia.

AIMS undertook a further voyage to survey additional undocumented areas, including three shoals in the Margaret Harries Banks area, Gale Bank, Van Cloon Shoal and adjacent shoals near the Joint Jurisdictional Area in the Timor Sea. 

With support from the oil and gas industry, continue surveys of key reefs and shoal habitats in NW Australia that are potentially vulnerable to industry activities

AIMS completed surveys of several banks and shoals in the vicinity of the Montara oil well as part of industry-funded work to characterise the benthic and fish communities following the 2009 oil spill. 

Sustain fundamental observations of tropical Australian marine systems as a partner in Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)

AIMS collected data associated with several IMOS programs, including: a network of oceanographic moorings across northern Australia; wireless sensor networks at several key locations on the Great Barrier Reef; benthic monitoring of corals in Western Australia and seagrass on the Reef; and movement patterns of sharks in both Western Australia and the Reef.

Analyse long-term data sets from the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and develop predictive models of the cumulative impacts of global change, resource extraction and industrial development on the Reef

AIMS scientists published five journal articles that draw on the AIMS Long-term Monitoring Program.

Together with other collaborators in the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) Tropical Environment hubs, AIMS published two major reports to the federal Department of the Environment: a framework for integrated monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef region that will enable management of the World Heritage Area to be based on the best available information; and a qualitative framework for understanding cumulative impacts on the outstanding universal values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Maintain AIMS’S monitoring of water quality of the GBR Lagoon and support for the decadal Queensland-Commonwealth Reef Plan, while increasing effort on the development of tools for examining the potential impacts of urban and industrial development along the coast, with particular emphasis on marine dredging activities

Long-term data collected by the AIMS Inshore Monitoring team show that the water and sediment quality around inshore reefs has declined after the major river floods of the past five years. These changed environmental conditions have led to a widespread decline in coral reef condition and demonstrates the sensitivity of inshore coral communities to the elevated loads of sediments, nutrients and pollutants introduced by run-off.

AIMS has also contributed the refinement of modelling tools to better predict the movement of sediments, including dredge spoil in coastal regions. 

Provide new insight to the possible future states for coral reefs in a high CO2 world through the study of natural CO2 vents (cold gas seeps) in Papua New Guinea

AIMS published seven journal articles on this topic in prestigious scientific journals, including two in Nature Climate Change.

Our research shows the detrimental effects of increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) (known as ocean acidification) on the diversity and health of fish and invertebrates that inhabit our coral reefs. Our research on cold gas seeps in Papua New Guinea has led to new external collaborations with 26 scientists from 14 organisations across 8 countries.

Collaborate in the development of implementation plans for operational and scientific monitoring programs to be instigated in the event of any future incidents similar to the Montara oil spill

AIMS completed negotiations to form a consortium of research agencies and universities in Western Australia that will develop and implement a comprehensive Operational and Scientific Monitoring Program with Shell and INPEX (OSMP). A significant program of baseline monitoring will commence in the next year.

Other companies operating in the area have expressed interest in developing similar implementation and baseline programs. AIMS also provided input into another OSMP being developed in the Ningaloo region. 

Commence operation of new infrastructure capacity provided by the AIMS Tropical Marine Research Facilities Project (funded under the Education Investment Fund) The National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) was opened by the then Minister for Science, the Hon Kim Carr, on 2 August 2013. The facility now actively supports experimental work on: the impacts of dredging on key marine species; the larval ecology of crown-of-thorns starfish; and the impacts of high CO2 and high temperatures on corals.