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)

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: 1. Sea-level based on high-precision dating and elevation survey of well-preserved microatolls; 2. Salinity and pH value based on high-precision boron isotope analyses of selected coral cores in conjunction with back-reef sediment cores; 3. Cyclone frequency based on precise dating of transported reef blocks, cyclone ridges and lagoon sediment cores; 4. Sea-surface temperature based on geochemical proxy analyses (Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, 18O/16O) of U-series-dated coral cores. 5. Variation in coral reef community structure and coral calcification rates.

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. Long-term records of coral reef community structure along the length of the GBR will allow us to better evaluate the ecological effects of run-off from agricultural activities and changes in climate. This will enable us to predict future climate scenarios and the responses of coral communities to such changes.

Principal Investigator
Zhao, Jian-Xin, Assoc-Prof. Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis, University of Queensland (UQ)
Co Investigator
Pandolfi, John, Prof. School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland (UQ)

Publications / Data

Tags: marine