NERP TE Project 1.3 - Characterising the cumulative impacts of global, regional and local stressors on the present and past biodiversity of the GBR (UQ)

Project summary

Using pioneering high-precision geological dating and palaeoecological techniques, combined with high-resolution geochemical analysis of coral records, this project will investigate how coral communities have historically responded to acute (e.g. cyclones) and chronic (e.g. water quality) disturbances.

Coral dating
Coral coring
 

Why this research is needed

Nutrient loading and discharge from agricultural and other land uses are putting increasing pressure on coral communities. More recent threats to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) include global warming, coral bleaching, ocean acidification and coral disease. This research will provide valuable knowledge that can be used to assess the effects of existing management strategies on the GBR ecosystem.

Research-user focus

The project will deliver outcomes that are useful to a range of stakeholders including local, State and Australian Government bodies, the tourism sector and conservation planners/managers. Specific research-users include the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

Outcomes

Key outcomes of the project will include:

  • Long-term records of coral reef community structure along the length of the GBR to evaluate the ecological effects of run-off from agricultural activities and changes in climate.
  • High resolution chronological records of parameters such as sea-level, sea-surface temperature, salinity, pH value, and cyclone frequency on different time scales over the past 1-2 millennia which will enable us to predict future climate scenarios and the responses of coral communities to such changes.
  • Long-term trends in coral calcification in response to changes in climate and water quality over the past hundreds to thousands of years.

Reports, Publications and News

NERP Logo

For more information see Project 1.3 'Characterising the cumulative impacts of global, regional and local stressors on the present and past biodiversity of the Great Barrier Reef'  on the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub site.

Photos

Datasets

Publication on
10 December 2015
This project will investigate how coral communities along the Great Barrier Reef have historically responded to acute (e.g. cyclones) and chronic (e.g. water quality) disturbances using pioneering high-precision geological dating and palaeoecological techniques, combined with high-resolution geochemical analysis of coral records.

This project will determine high resolution chronological records on different time scales over the past 1-2 millennia of parameters such as:

Publication on
2 August 2016
PreviewThis dataset is the U-series data for Pelorus Island as described in Roff et al (2013) Palaeoecological evidence of a historical collapse of corals at Pelorus Island, inshore Great Barrier Reef, following European settlement.
Publication on
2 August 2016
PreviewThis dataset consists of 43 thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) U-Th dates from living Porites spp.