Australian Institute of Marine Science

Title: Meta-analysis of coral reef biodiversity:  managing a global crisis through improved methods for combining disparate information types

Industry Partner: Australian Institute of Marine Science

Project Description:

Coral reefs host 25-50% of global marine species in an area less than 0.2% of the surface of the world’s oceans. These ecosystems are under threat from a variety of agents, but the dimensions of these threats to coral reef species and the extremely valuable ecosystem goods and services they provide has only recently come into sharp focus. While we are beginning to understand the processes responsible for the establishment and maintenance of coral reefs, information currently available for managing this coral reef crisis is severely limiting.

With rare exceptions, research on coral reefs has developed through the pursuit of uncoordinated (among labs) and relatively small-scale endeavours driven by the research agendas of individuals and designed and carried out as particular needs arose and research funds could be secured. As a result, data from many thousands of individual surveys are now available for understanding how this present crisis may unfold, and what opportunities exist to avert it. The challenge still remains, however, to understand the best ways to combine these disparate information sources in ways that maximise the use of the information inherent in them to provide a consistent picture of the current status and trajectories for coral reef health.

This project will investigate new ways to combine these data that can provide a more consistent view of the status and changes in coral reef biodiversity; one in which trajectories converge on the true trajectory and uncertainty inherent in these estimates diminish through time with the addition of new observations.

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