The Marine chapter of the 2016 State of the Environment (SoE) report incorporates multiple expert templates developed from
streams of marine data. This metadata record describes the Expert Assessment "The state and trends of quality of habitats
and communities – Deepwater corals and sponges (>250 m)". The full Expert Assessment, including figures and tables (where
provided), is attached to this record. Where available, the Data Stream(s) used to generate this Expert Assessment are accessible
through the "On-line Resources" section of this record.
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIES/HABITAT/COMMUNITY FOR EXPERT ASSESSMENT
Corals and sponges are habitat-forming biota that often enhance benthic biodiversity in the deepsea by providing complex
structural living spaces for a large number of species from a variety of taxa (Buhl-Mortensen et al. 2010, Fromont et al.
2012). Most species of deepwater (often termed ‘coldwater’) corals and sponges need stable substrata for larva to settle
and attachment of adult colonies, thus they are usually associated with hard-bottom habitats.
Our knowledge of these taxa in Australian waters stems mainly from extensive deepsea biodiversity surveys covering the southern
south-east, north-west, and western south –west regions, and the Lord Howe/ Norfolk ridge area (McEnnulty et al. 2011, Williams
et al. 2011, Dunstan et al. 2012) (Table 1). In addition, a variety of corals were photographed in situ and collected during
a survey of the Perth Canyon lead by researcheers from the University of Western Australia on board the RV Falkor (http://archiveschmidtocean.org/story/show/3888).
Both taxa were found to be highly diverse with many undescribed species, as well as many ‘unknown’ (sensuHooper et al. 2013)
species (McEnnulty et al. 2011, Fromont et al. 2012, Alderslade et al. 2014). In addition, species turn-over between samples
was extremely high for both taxa (Schlacher et al. 2007, Fromont et al. 2012, Alderslade et al. 2014).
Coldwater corals include stony corals (Scleractinia), black corals (Antipatharia), and octocorals (Alcyonacea). Some stony
corals form extensive reefs in the deep sea, particularly on seamounts (e.g. see Seamount SER); a single species, Solenosmilia
variabilis, is the dominant reef-builder in temperate Australian waters. Studies of the reef on the southern Tasmanian seamounts
showed that Solenosmilia has been in the area for at least 47,000 years (Fallon et al. 2014). Deepwater corals are frequently
used as indicators of benthic ‘vulnerable marine ecosystems’ (VME) in deep-sea conservation planning (FAO 2008, Tracey et
al. 2008, Williams et al. 2015). Althaus et al. (submitted) show that representation of deepwater octocoral species (>80
m) in Australia’s reserves is equitable to spatial coverage by reserves, but there is low species overlap in- and outside
The ability of sponge to filter large volumes of water makes them a critical link between the benthos and the overlaying water
column (WAMSI 2016). Deepwater sponges include demosponges, calcareous and glass sponges. The species-level identification
of deepwater sponges has not been standardised across Australian collections at this stage; however, this may be possible
in the future through SpongeMaps, an online collaboration tool for sponge taxonomists (Hooper et al. 2013; Hall & Hooper
2014). The broadest regional analysis of deep-water sponges is presented by Fromont et al. (2012) who found that, off WA,
the richness and abundance of demosponges and Calcera were negatively associated with decreasing latitude and increasing
depth, and hexactinellids positively Fromont et al. (2012).
DATA STREAM(S) USED IN EXPERT ASSESSMENT
This assessment is based on data derived from Marine National Facility Surveys described in MarLIN (http://www.marine.csiro.au/marlin/search.html)
and accessible through the CSIRO Data trawler (http://www.cmar.csiro.au/data/trawler/). Links to specific data sets are provided
in the "On-line resources" section of this record.
• Voyage of Discovery north-west (SS05/2007)
• Voyage of Discovery south-west (SS07/2005 & SS10/2005)
• Tasmanian seamounts surveys (SS01/1999, SS02/2006 & SS02/2007, SS01/2008 & TT01/2008)
• Habitat and population assessment of giant crabs (2003 - 2005)
• NORFANZ survey of Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge (TAN0308 - NORFANZ)
2016 SOE ASSESSMENT SUMMARY [see attached Expert Assessment for full details]
• 2016 •
Assessment grade: Poor-Good
Assessment trend: Stable
Confidence grade: Limited evidence or limited consensus
Confidence trend: Limited evidence or limited consensus
Comparability: Grade and trend are somewhat comparable to the 2011 assessment
• 2011 •
Assessment grade: Good
CHANGES SINCE 2011 SOE ASSESSMENT
Not clear how the assessment in 2011 was done.
Alderslade, P., F. Althaus, F. McEnnulty, K. Gowlett-Holmes, and A. Williams. 2014. Australia’s deep-water octocoral fauna:
historical account and checklist, distributions and regional affinities of recent collections. Zootaxa 3796:435-452.
Althaus, F., A. Williams, P. Alderslade, and T. A. Schlacher. submitted. Conservation of marine biodiversity on a very large
deep continental margin: how representative is a very large offshore reserve network for deep-water octocorals? Diversity
Buhl-Mortensen, L., A. Vanreusel, A. Gooday, J., L. Levin, A. , I. Priede, G., P. Buhl-Mortensen, H. Gheerardyn, N. King,
J., and M. Raes. 2010. Biological structures as a source of habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity on the deep ocean margins.
Marine Ecology 31:21-50.
Dunstan, P., K. , F. Althaus, A. Williams, and N. J. Bax. 2012. Characterising and Predicting Benthic Biodiversity for Conservation
Planning in Deepwater Environments. PLoS ONE 7:e36558.
FAO. 2008. International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas: Annex F of the Report of
the Technical Consultation on International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas. FAO, Rome.
Fromont, J., F. Althaus, F. R. McEnnulty, A. Williams, M. Salotti, O. Gomez, and K. Gowlett-Holmes. 2012. Living on the
edge: the sponge fauna of Australia’s southwestern and northwestern deep continental margin. Hydrobiologia 687:127-142.
Hall, K. A. and Hooper, J. N. A. 2014. SpongeMaps - an online community for sponge taxonomy. Available at: www.spongemaps.org
[last accessed Wed, 10 Feb 2016 04:44:02 GMT].
Hooper, J. N., K. A. Hall, M. Ekins, D. Erpenbeck, G. Worheide, and G. Jolley-Rogers. 2013. Managing and sharing the escalating
number of sponge "unknowns": the SpongeMaps project. Integr Comp Biol 53:473-481.
McEnnulty, F. R., K. L. Gowlett-Holmes, A. Williams, F. Althaus, J. Fromont, G. C. B. Poore, T. D. O'Hara, L. Marsh, P.
Kott, S. Slack-Smith, P. Alderslade, and M. V. Kitahara. 2011. The deepwater megabenthic invertebrates on the western continental
margin of Australia (100–1500 m depths): composition, distribution and novelty. Records of the Western Australian Museum 80:1-191.
Pitcher, C. R., Williams, A., Ellis, N., Althaus, F., McLeod, I., Bustamante, R., Kenyon, R., Fuller, M. in review. Implications
of current spatial management measures for AFMA ERAs for habitats — FRDC Project No 2014/204. CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere,
Published Brisbane, November 2015, 50 pages
Rogers, P., T. Ward, P. van Ruth, A. Williams, B. Bruce, D. Currie, C. Davies, K. Evans, S. Goldsworthy, D. Griffin, N.
Hardman-Mountford, R. Kloser, J. Middleton, A. Richardson, A. Ross, and J. Young. 2013. Physical processes, biodiversity
and ecology of the Great Australian Bight region: a literature review. CSIRO, Hobart Tas.
Schlacher, T. A., M. A. Schlacher-Hoenliger, A. Williams, F. Althaus, J. N. A. Hooper, and R. Kloser. 2007. Richness and
distribution of sponge megabenthos in continental margin canyons off southeastern Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series
Thresher, R. E., J. M. Guinotte, R. J. Matear, and A. J. Hobday. 2015. Options for managing impacts of climate change on
a deep-sea community. Nature Climate Change 5:635-639.
Tracey, D. M., S. J. Parker, E. Mackay, O. Anderson, and K. Ramm. 2008. Classification guide for potentially vulnerable
invertebrate taxa in the SPRFMO Area. south Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO).
WAMSI 2016. Sponges chose enigma over charisma. Available from: http://www.wamsi.org.au/news/sponges-choose-enigma-over-charisma [accessed on Feb 11, 2016]
Williams, A., F. Althaus, M. R. Clark, and K. Gowlett-Holmes. 2011. Composition and distribution of deep-sea benthic invertebrate
megafauna on the Lord Howe Rise and Norfolk Ridge, southwest Pacific Ocean. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies
in Oceanography 58:948-958.
Williams, A., F. Althaus, and T. A. Schlacher. 2015. Towed camera imagery and benthic sled catches provide different views
of seamount benthic diversity. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 13:62-73.
Williams, A., T. A. Schlacher, A. A. Rowden, F. Althaus, M. R. Clark, D. A. Bowden, R. Stewart, N. J. Bax, M. Consalvey,
and R. J. Kloser. 2010. Seamount megabenthic assemblages fail to recover from trawling impacts. Marine Ecology 31:183–199.
QUALITY OF DATA USED IN THE ASSESSMENT
Good, analyses of data peer reviewed.
CUSTODIAN AND LOCATION OF DATA
CSIRO, data is accessible through the CSIRO Data trawler (see On-line resource links for specific datasets)
METHOD USED TO DETERMINE STATE OR RECENT TREND
Expert assessment of available data published in peer review papers, reports and relevant databases.
When citing this Expert Assessment in a list of references use the following format:
citation author name/s (year metadata published), metadata title. Citation author organisation/s. File identifier and Data
accessed at (add http link).