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 habitats and communities
- water column, inner shelf (0 - 25 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 HABITAT/COMMUNITY FOR EXPERT ASSESSMENT
Based on biomass the major communities found in the water column are phytoplankton>bacteria>zooplankton>fish (Marchant 2002).
The water column is the habitat and the major determinants of quality for most pelagic organisms can be considered to be
temperature (T), salinity (S), light, nutrients, dissolved oxygen (DO), pH, and food availability. The inner shelf waters
around Australia are generally warm, mostly saline, well illuminated, low in nutrients, and phytoplankton, zooplankton and
fish abundance. The inner shelf is also the pelagic marine habitat most exposed to human induced pressures and has local
habitats that range from heavily disturbed to pristine. The capability of this habitat to support the existing flora and
fauna can be considered to be under threat (e.g. Game et al. 2009) from: inputs from the terrestrial environment (e.g. sediments
in runoff or due to increased erosion, nutrients, wastes), harvesting of biota, invasive species, infrastructure development
(e.g. impoundments, harbours, hardening), mariculture, mining, oil and gas extraction, climate change (warming, falling
DO, decreasing pH). There are many areas of local habitat degradation, with the most impacted areas tending to be embayments
and estuaries with significant population pressures and limited exchange (e.g. Alyazichi et al., 2015; Mckinley et al., 2011).
In spite of improvements in the management of these types of pressures the magnitude of the growth in mineral exports, agriculture
exports and population growth would suggest that development impacts will have risen. At the same time across many jurisdictions
improvements in sewage treatment and disposal mean that potentially dangerous pathogens are increasingly rare. For example
in 2015 96% of NSW open beaches with high rates of recreational use were rated good or very good (NSW EPA, 2015). At a
larger geographic scale our shelf waters are experiencing increasing impacts from global pressures such as warming. Shelf
waters from Port Hedland to Cape Howe have risen ~ 1°C from 1993 to 2013 (Foster et al., 2014), and portions of the SW
region were 3°C warmer during February 2011 than normal (Pearce and Feng 2013). There is evidence that dissolved oxygen has
declined (Thompson et al. 2009) and will continue to decline due to warming (Talley et al., 2016). This is likely to lead
to more losses of marine fauna due to low oxygen; such as the unprecedented event during 2015 in Cockburn Sound (Pattiaratchi
2016). Recent blooms of toxic phytoplankton in regions where they never bloomed before (Campbell et al., 2013) and the SE
shellfish that have suffered badly from disease outbreaks (Hooper et al., 2007; Lewis et al., 2012). There is evidence of
widespread responses to climate related pressures across the major types of biota, phytoplankton, zooplankton and fish (e.g.
Johnson et al. 2011, Thompson et al. 2016) as well as our coral reefs under increased stress from rising temperatures and
declining pH (Mongin et al., 2016).
DATA STREAM(S) USED IN EXPERT ASSESSMENT
Data are computed from the level 3 (L3) daily global products using one merging method following Maritorena and Siegel, (2005).
Details can be found at http://www.globcolour.info/products_description.html
Phytoplankton and zooplankton data are from Australia’s National Reference Stations operated by the Integrated Marine Observing
2016 SOE ASSESSMENT SUMMARY [see attached Expert Assessment for full details]
• 2016 •
Assessment grade: Good
Assessment trend: Unclear
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 trend: Deteriorating
CHANGES SINCE 2011 SOE ASSESSMENT
Where possible this assessment includes a statistical analysis of trends in consistent measures of habitat and community
around the country.
Alyazichi, Y., Jones, B., McLean, E. 2015. Source identification and assessment of sediment contamination of trace metals
in Kogarah Bay, NSW, Australia. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 187, 1-10.
Campbell, A., Hudson, D., Nicholls, C., Pointon, A. 2013. Tactical Research Fund: Review of the 2012 paralytic shellfish
toxin event in Tasmania associated with the dinoflagellate alga, Alexandrium tamarense, FRDC Project 2012/060, SafeFish,
Adelaide. ISBN: 978-0-646-90570-9.
Hooper, C., Hardy-Smith, P., Handlinger, J. 2007. Ganglioneuritis causing high mortalities in farmed Australian abalone (Haliotis
laevigata and Haliotis rubra). Aust Vet J 85:188542
Foster, S.D., Griffin, D.A., Dunstan, P.K. 2014. Twenty Years of High-Resolution Sea Surface Temperature Imagery around Australia:
Inter-Annual and Annual Variability. PLoS ONE 9(7): e100762. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100762
Game, E.T., Grantham, H.S., Hobday, A.J., Pressey, R.L., Lombard, A.T., Beckley, L.E., Gjerde, K., Bustamante, R., Possingham,
H.P., Richardson, A.J. 2009. Pelagic protected areas: The missing dimension in ocean conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution
Johnson, C.R., Banks, S.C., Barrett, N.S., Cazassus, F.; Dunstan, P.K., Edgar, G.J., Frusher, S.D., Gardner, C., Helidoniotis,
F., Holbrook, N.J., Ling, S.D., Melbourne-Thomas, J., Miller, K., Pecl, G.T., Ritz, D.A., Ross, D.J., Sanderson, J.C., Swadling,
K.M. 2011. 'Climate change cascades: Shifts in oceanography, species' ranges and subtidal marine community dynamics in eastern
Tasmania', Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 400, (1-2) pp. 17-32. ISSN 0022-0981
Lewis, T., Defenderfer, D., Zippel, B. 2011. Understanding and planning for the potential impacts of OsHV-1 μVar. FRDC Project
Marchant H. 2002. Who does all the work in the Southern Ocean? Elizabeth Haywood (ed.) Australian Antarctic Magazine 4,
Spring 2002 4. 20-21
Maritorena, S. and Siegel, D.A. 2005. Consistent Merging of Satellite Ocean Colour Data Sets Using a Bio-Optical Model. Remote
Sensing of Environment. 94: 429-440.
Mckinley, A.C., Miskiewicz, A., Taylor, M.D., and Johnston, E.L. 2011. Strong links between metal contamination, habitat modification
and estuarine larval fish distributions. Environ. Pollut. 159, 1499–1509. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.03.008
NSW EPA. 2015. State of the Beaches. Beachwatch. Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW. ISBN 978-1-76039-064-8.
Pattiaratchi, C. 2016. Oceanographic conditions along the Perth Metropolitan region leading to the observed fish kill event
in Cockburn Sound, November 2015. University of Western Australia.
Thompson, P.A., Lorenzoni, L., T. O’Brien, K. Isensee, et al., 2016. The South Pacific, in What are Marine Ecological Time
Series telling us about the ocean? A status report. O'Brien, T.D., Isensee, K., Lorenzoni, L., Valdés, J.L. (eds). IOC-UNESCO,
Paris. IOC Technical Series, No. 129. In review.
QUALITY OF DATA USED IN THE ASSESSMENT
Spatial and temporal coverage of satellite data are excellent. Conversion of ocean colour to chlorophyll a introduces a source
of potential error that increases in turbid and nearshore waters. Improved regional assessments of state and trend are
feasible using only data from each region. IMOS data are high quality but limited in spatial coverage.
CUSTODIAN AND LOCATION OF DATA
The remotely sensed data and details can be found at http://www.globcolour.info/products_description.html
The in situ phytoplankton and zooplankton data can be found at: https://portal.aodn.org.au/search (see links in On-line resources section of this record for specific datasets)
METHOD USED TO DETERMINE STATE OR RECENT TREND
Trends were assessed using a linear regression.
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).