Abstract: Managers dealing with threats to the marine environment face a fundamental problem in that ecological changes occur out of sight. Allocation of resources to where conservation intervention is most useful thereby becomes difficult and inefficient, and major losses of biodiversity go unnoticed. The Reef Life Survey program (RLS) addresses these problems through the training of a small network of skilled recreational divers in the technical knowledge needed to quantitatively survey reef fishes, invertebrate and algal communities using standardised scientific methods. Because of increased cost-effectiveness, RLS data allow analyses based on consistent methodology to be undertaken at larger geographic and temporal scales than possible for scientific dive teams. The dataset now includes information for >3500 species from 40 countries and >2000 sites, allowing the first global-scale assessments of inshore marine biodiversity using systematically-collected quantitative data. To date, RLS data have been used to: (i) assess how key attributes (no-take, well-enforced, long-established, large, isolated) influence ecological response following protection within 87 MPAs worldwide, (ii) describe the distribution of threatened species, and (iii) quantify community-level impacts of invasive species, fish farms, and urban pollution. Through the longer term, data will play a major role in tracking interactive effects of climate change and other stressors on coastal biodiversity.
Biography: Graham Edgar is best known for his writings for the wider public. His book Australian Marine Life is highly valued and much used by temperate marine biologists. It was awarded the Whitley Award by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW in 1997, and a companion volume on ecology, Australian Marine Habitats, also received a Whitley Award in 2001. The knowledge contributing to these books is deep and extensive, and many years in the making. Additional to these books, his >100 journal publications are widely recognised and highly cited in the scientific literature. Graham is one of a few generalist marine scientists, spending time in a variety of fields, as well as interdisciplinary areas. His interests and scientific publications cover seaweed-fish-invertebrate interactions; marine biodiversity; crustacean and fish taxonomy; seagrass habitat ecology; temperate reef ecology; estuarine ecology; marine protected areas; effects of fishing, aquaculture, oil spills, sedimentation, introduced species and global warming on the marine environment; identification and protection of threatened marine species; and marine conservation planning. He was Head of Marine Science and Conservation at the Charles Darwin Station in Galapagos from 2000-2002, and is currently Professor at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. In 2011, Graham was awarded the Silver Jubilee Award – AMSA’s highest honour for lifetime achievement in research.