Researcher biography

Decision-making to facilitate habitat succession and species movements in coastal Australia

Conservation planning for coastal regions rarely accounts explicitly for dynamic processes, for example, connectivity. In the design of marine protected areas it is essential to incorporate both the influence of connectivity and climate change, and equally the effect of climate change on connectivity.

We are developing a strategy for conservation action involving three integrated processes – reserve network expansion, zoning (i.e., land/seascape-use) and environmental impact avoidance. Information on ecosystem functions can be achieved through spatially explicit data at a large scale depicting changes through time series analysis imagery using remote sensing. Change detection and time series analysis of multi-temporal remote sensing image datasets is done through trajectory analysis particularly as it applies to the Landsat and Sentinel sensors using ArcGIS and ERDAS Imagine routines. We examine change in the vegetation structure and connectivity in a region that is highly fished both commercially and recreationally, the Mackay/Whitsunday Natural Resource Management Region of Central Queensland. Catch and effort fisheries data for both recreational and commercial fishing over a time period of 13 years for 196 finfish species is the baseline to investigate coastal habitat succession and species movements explicitly in a land/sea integrated approach. With the use of a distribution model in Maxent, remote sensing and prioritisation tools we incorporate threats in conservation planning to achieve a more efficient planning program for coastal regions.

Finally we will use a systematic conservation approach to propose development and management options for coastal regions that accommodate species changes, habitat changes and human responses. We use the Zonation framework and apply our plan to the study region. Our overall objective is to find options that maximise the chance we retain a productive near-shore fishery while retaining biodiversity values.