Abstract: When a coral reef is bleached, a temperate kelp forest is destroyed by an army of sea urchins, or when intense fishing pressure is removed through the establishment of a marine park, the marine life responds. But usually only some of the species respond in a way we expect, while other change just appears to be random (or is subtle change that is overlooked). This seminar will cover some of lessons gleaned from standard, species-level surveys of fishes and invertebrates along 29,000 transects on coral and rocky reefs around the world, and ongoing research trying to decipher reef community responses to pressures and management. It will introduce the Reef Life Survey program and some monitoring indicators that provide a pathway from seemingly noisy ecological data from complex ecosystems through to a better understanding of the consequences of management and policy decisions on reef biodiversity.
Biography: Rick Stuart-Smith is a field ecologist and co-founder of the Reef Life Survey program (RLS). He has undertaken dive surveys on rocky and coral reefs all around the world and trained hundreds of divers to assist in building RLS’ quantitative database of reef biodiversity. His research covers aspects of bio-geography, community and macro-ecology, focusing on the ways that temperature (including marine heatwaves), fishing, pollution, invasive species and other environmental factors shape reef ecosystems. A major motivation for his research is to improve the way we monitor, manage, share information on, and protect marine biodiversity, through contributing to more ecologically-informed policy at larger scales, and guiding local management. He also manages a global database of reef species images and information (Reef Species of the World), and an interactive indicator reporting tool (Reef Life Explorer).