Full Project Title: 
An integrated examination of the drivers of movements of large filter feeding organisms of high ecotourism value: a case study
Project Summary: 

Large filter-feeding organisms such as manta rays, whale sharks and baleen whales are major tourist attractions that underpin many eco-tourism ventures worldwide. The predictability of these organisms is a key feature for the industry, but the drivers of small to large-scale movements and migrations are poorly understood. This project uses the inshore manta ray as a model to examine how biotic and abiotic factors relate to the movements of individual animals on a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Outcomes will advance our understanding of how environmental conditions affect a species' distribution in time and space, permitting the development of models for predicting how species' distributions may be affected by climate change. The aim is to define key drivers behind movements of large filter-feeding organisms, using the manta ray as a model system. An understanding of why animals occupy particular sites at particular times is important, especially in the face of climate change.

Funding Sources: 

This project is funded through an ARC Linkage Grant (LP110100712 - An integrated examination of the drivers of movements of large filter feeding organisms of high ecotourism value: a case study).

  • Project Collaborators

    Prof Mike Bennettm.bennett@uq.edu.au

    School of Biomedical Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Kathy Townsendkathy.townsend@uq.edu.au

    School of Biological Sciences
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Anthony Richardsonajr@maths.uq.edu.au

    School of Mathematics and Physics
    The University of Queensland

    Dr Scarla Weekss.weeks@uq.edu.au 

    School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
    The University of Queensland

  • Postgraduate Students
  • Industry Partners
  • Publications

    Courturier, LIE, Marshall, AD, Jaine, FR, Kashawagi, T, Pierce, SJ, Richardson, AJ, Townsend, KA, Weeks, SJ and Bennett MB (2012) Biology, ecology and conservation of the Mobulidae. Journal of Fish Biology, 80: 1075–1119. 

    Bustamante, C, Couturier, LIE and Bennett MB (2012) First record of Mobula japanica (Rajiformes: Myliobatidae) from the south-eastern Pacific Ocean. Marine Biodiversity Records, 5, e48 

    Jaine FRA, Couturier LIE, Weeks SJ, Townsend KA, Bennett MB, Fiora, K and Richardson, AJ (2012) When giants turn up: sighting trends, environmental influences and habitat use of the manta ray Manta alfredi at a coral reef. PLoS ONE 7(10): e46170.

    Couturier, LIE, Jaine, FRA, Townsend, KA, Weeks, SJ, Richardson, AJ and Bennett, MB (2011) Distribution, site affinity and regional movements of the manta ray, Manta alfredi (Krefft, 1968) along the east coast of Australia. Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 62: 628-637.