NERP TE Project 1.1 - Monitoring status and trends of coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef (AIMS)

Project summary

This project will continue a unique data set that documents long-term trends in coral reef communities of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Regular surveys of fish, coral and coral predators such as crown-of-thorns starfish on 47 reefs since 1992, provide the ‘big picture’ on the condition of reefs on the GBR and how they are changing over time. This project will employ a range of surveying techniques to detect events likely to have large-scale impacts on reef health, such as coral bleaching, coral disease, cyclones or crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks.

Counts of crown-of-thorns starfish
Populations of herbivorous fish
 

Why this research is needed

Documenting patterns of reef decline and determining the factors influencing reef recovery is critical to the long-term persistence of the GBR. The surveys show that crown-of-thorns starfish and cyclones have been the leading causes of damage to coral reefs since the early 1990s when surveys began. These kinds of disturbances affect different areas of the GBRMP and their effects persist from years to decades, so long-term data sets are critical for understanding the ecology of coral reefs and for formulating policies to best protect them.

Research-user focus

This project provides information on condition of coral reefs over a large area of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and will contribute to the 2014 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report to be produced by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GRBMPA) and the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Regular updates on reef status and crown-of-thorns starfish are provided to the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators to provide early warning of any increases in crown-of-thorns starfish activity.

Outcomes

  • Updates on status and temporal trends in coral, fish and crown-of-thorns starfish populations on survey reefs.
  • Report on recovery rates and resilience of reefs after cyclones in 2009-2011.
  • Report on crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks on the GBR.
  • Publications on coral and fish dynamics in relation to management and environmental drivers.

Reports, Publications and News

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For more information see Project 1.1 'Monitoring status and trends of coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef on the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub site.

Photos

Datasets

Publication on
9 June 2016
This project will continue a unique data set that documents long-term trends in coral reef communities of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). In 2012-13 and 2014-15 the LTMP will resurvey the ‘core’ reefs that have been surveyed since 1992.