The deeper we go the less we know: Location, extent and ecological significance of submerged reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

Presented by:  Tom Bridge, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, JCU, Townsville

 Where:  Building 19 (new Centre building) Room #106, JCU, Townsville; with live video-link to UQ GCI Boardroom

When:  12 – 1pm Thursday 4 October 2012

 Abstract: The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) is currently regarded as containing approximately 2900 individual reefs. However recent evidence suggests that these iconic, shallow-water reefs may represent only the “tip of the iceberg”, and that submerged reefs, banks and shoals may occupy an even greater proportion of the GBRWHA. These deeper marine habitats have already been shown to contain diverse ecological communities, comprising a unique combination of familiar shallow-water reef species and “depth-endemic” species confined to deep waters. In addition to being home to new and interesting species, submerged reefs may also play an important role as refugia for corals and associated species from climate change impacts, and as habitat for a range of commercially-important fish species. Here, I will provide an introduction to the location, extent and biodiversity of submerged reefs in the GBRWHA – what is currently known, and how this research may influence management strategies for the GBRWHA

Biography: Tom is originally from Sydney and completed a B.Sc (Honours) at the University of Sydney. His honours thesis examined the influence of environmental variation on the distribution of juvenile black marlin off eastern Australia. After spending time travelling and in the diving industry, Tom moved to Townsville in 2007 to begin his PhD in the School of Earth and Environmental Science at JCU, studying mesophotic coral reefs on the GBR. His major field work comprised a 3-week expedition on board the RV Southern Surveyor, which conducted the first detailed study of the biology of the Great Barrier Reef outer-shelf. Completing his PhD in 2011, Tom has continued his research on mesophotic coral reefs at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, JCU.

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