Primary: Assoc. Prof. Scott Ling (UTAS)
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Scott Condie (CSIRO)
Co-Supervisor: Dr. Katie Cresswell (UTAS)
Temperate and tropical reefs throughout the world are increasingly threatened by pollution, overfishing and climate change. In many locations these pressures are driving major shifts in ecological communities. While changes in coral reef systems have been studied intensively, temperate reefs have received less attention despite being the some of the most biologically diverse and geographically extensive marine habitats, providing a wide range of ecosystem services relating to fisheries, tourism and shoreline protection.
The Great Southern Reef (GSR) is an interconnected temperate marine system fringing more than 8,000 km of Australia’s southern coastline and encapsulates nearly all the nation’s major population centres from the Queensland/ New South Wales border, Victoria, around Tasmania and across South Australia to its sub-tropical limit in Western Australia. While the importance of this system is increasingly recognised, its interconnectedness remains largely unexplored. By applying meta-community modelling approaches (initially developed for the Great Barrier Reef), this PhD project will explore the connectedness of the Great Southern Reef and model the interplay of climate change, reef-based fisheries, protected species, and offshore infrastructure on its dynamics.
The project aims to establish a meta-community model for the Great Southern Reef and use this model to evaluate interventions and adaptation strategies for cumulative impacts on the Great Southern Reef. The project will develop realistic food web interactions and reef connectivity to provide a platform for testing alternative interventions and adaptation strategies under different climate change trajectories, including exploration of novel interventions. The project will also determine the existence of unifying drivers of reef community dynamics and scalability of various management actions across the different bioregions of the Great Southern Reef. Modelling will also be used to examine optimal systems of triage for safeguarding reefs under threat and for recovery of collapsed systems across the Great Southern Reef.
NOTE: CSIRO top-up scholarship of an additional $10K stipend per annum, plus an additional $5K available over the course of the PhD for operating expenses (35k in total).