Assessing the ecological importance of seagrass beds in south-east Tasmania

Supervisory Team:

Primary supervisor: Camille White

Co-supervisor: Elisabeth Strain

Additional supervisors: Madeleine Brasier, Adam Davey

Brief project description:

Seagrass beds are highly productive coastal marine ecosystems and a sink for nutrients. The high primary productivity of seagrass beds supports a large biomass of primary consumers, with these communities providing critical ecosystem services, such as the removal and recycling of nutrients, filtering of the water column and stabilisation of the seabed.

There is a general trend for decline in seagrass in coastal areas globally. This decline is often linked to urbanisation and increases of nutrients in the environment. Storm Bay in south-east Tasmania is subject to a range of anthropogenic pressures, including urbanisation from the city of Hobart, inputs from several estuaries, and development of industry, including salmon aquaculture. However, there have been very few studies that have attempted to quantify the biota, condition and ecological importance of seagrass in this region.

Therefore this project aims to a) undertake a quantitative assessment of the seagrass and associated flora and fauna in south east Tasmania, b) determine their relative ecological importance and c) examine the relationship between seagrass condition and associated biodiversity.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

A wide array of field and laboratory skills, including collection of data using transects, quadrats, sediment cores, biochemical techniques, sorting of samples, taxonomy of seagrass and associated flora and fauna.

Depending on the background of the student there may also be the capacity to support scientific diving and/or ROV operation.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
September 21, 2021