Conservation of marine ecosystems depends on an integrated understanding of the trophic relationships between key habitats and associated wildlife. As a primary producer, seagrasses are a cornerstone for trophic relationships and a critically important habitat for many marine species, including iconic large herbivores such as dugongs. Seagrass meadows are vulnerable to disturbance, yet there is a profound lack of information on their distribution across the Pilbara, and almost no understanding of the how they change naturally or in response to human perturbations, or of the consequences of these changes for the species that rely on them. Given the increasing pressures on these habitats from industry growth in the Pilbara and from global warming, this is a critical information gap that limits our capacity to plan and manage for long-term conservation of seagrass and iconic marine fauna. Through a collaborative, multi-institutional project this research aims to establish the natural dynamics of seagrass habitat across the Pilbara, and measure how this influences distribution and habitat use of dugong at a local scale. The outcome will be the creation of a seagrass habitat and marine wildlife monitoring framework, including best practice protocols, indicators and sites that will underpin informed management for the Pilbara and more broadly across WA.
Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)
September 2017 – November 2019
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