Full Project Title: 
Characterising the cumulative impacts of global, regional and local stressors on the present and past biodiversity of the GBR
Project Summary: 

Coral reefs are showing evidence of decline. Historical overfishing, nutrient loading, terrestrial discharge, combined with more recent threats of global warming, coral bleaching, ocean acidification and disease have resulted in long-term losses of abundance, diversity and habitat structure. Since European settlement of the Queensland coastline in the mid-19th century, extensive land use changes in the Great Barrier Reef catchment region have occurred. However, it has been difficult to ascertain the link between terrestrial discharge, water quality, global warming, ocean acidification and coral decline on a regional scale, and the contribution of anthropogenic influence to the disturbance regimes of inshore reefs remains highly controversial. This is largely due to (1) the lack of a reliable chronological tool that can be used to correlate episodes of ecological change and degradation with potential stressors and to reconstruct long-term (millennial timescale) same-site records of coral community change that can provide baselinesagainst which to compare recent coral community changes, and (2) the lack of clear understanding of various stressors and their past variability and cyclicity, as well as their future trends. This project seeks to correlate the historical changes in the ecology of GBR inshore reefs with major anthropogenic stressors (e.g. water quality changes) and with natural and anthropogenically-derived climatic events over the past several millennia through European colonization of the Queensland coastline and up to the 21st century.

Funding Sources: 

This project is funded through an RRRC-NERP Hub Grant (Project 1.3 Characterising the cumulative impacts of global, regional and local stressors on the present and past biodiversity of the GBR).

  • Project Collaborators

    Prof John Pandolfij.pandolfi@uq.edu.au

    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Prof Jian-xin Zhao, j.zhao@uq.edu.au

    Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis
    The University of Queensland

    Prof Malcolm McCulloch, malcolm.mcculloch@uwa.edu.au

    School of Earth and Environment
    The University of Western Australia 

    A/Prof Scott Smithers, scott.smithers@jcu.edu.au 

    School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
    James Cook University

    Dr Steve Lewis, stephen.lewis@jcu.edu.au 

    Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research
    James Cook University

    Dr Terry Done, t.done@aims.gov.au 

    Australian Institute of Marine Science

    Dr Kefu Yu,  k.yu1@uq.edu.au 

    Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis
    The University of Queensland

    Dr George Roff, g.roff@uq.edu.au 

    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Yuexing Feng, y.feng@uq.edu.au

    Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Tara Clark, t.clark1@uq.edu.au

    Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis
    The University of Queensland

  • Postgraduate Students
  • Industry Partners
  • Publications

    Clark, T.R; Zhao, J-x;Feng, Y; Done, T; Jupiter, S; Lough, J; Pandolfi, JM (2012) Spatial variability of initial 230Th/232Th in modern Porites from the inshore region of the Great Barrier Reef. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 78: 99–118.

    Lybolt, M; Neil, D; Zhao, J-x; Feng, Y-x; Yu, K-F; Pandolfi, JM (2011) The shift from natural to human-dominated seascapes: a history of instability in marginal coral reefs.  Frontiers in Ecology and Environment 9: 154–160.

    Pandolfi, JM; Connolly, S; Marshall, D; Cohen, A (2011) Projecting coral reef futures under global warming and ocean acidification.  Science 333: 418-422.