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Global change, phase-shifts and recovery potential of Tasmania’s rapidly warming reef ecosystems


Ling, S and Soler, G and Barrett, N and Ridgway, K and Keane, J and Charlton, D and Johnson, C and Baron, M and Gowlett-Holmes, K and Sanderson, C and Brooks, S and Bennett, S and Strain, B and Layton, C and Wright, J and Hurd, C and de Nys, R and Tatsumi, M and Elsom, S and Stuart-Smith, R and Oh, E and Cooper, A and Edgar, G, Global change, phase-shifts and recovery potential of Tasmania's rapidly warming reef ecosystems, The 2023 International Temperate Reefs Symposium, 8-12 January 2023, Hobart, Australia (2023) [Conference Extract]

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Global change is causing phase-shifts from healthy to collapsed reefs across temperate systems worldwide. On the rapidly warming coasts of Tasmania, subtidal monitoring of rocky reef ecosystems reveals cascading changes over the past 30-years. From widespread loss of giant kelp forests to the formation of extensive sea urchin barrens, the transformation of local reef-scapes has been profound. In this presentation, I will highlight long-term changes in reef fishes and invertebrates and explore the transition between surface-canopy giant kelp forests and lower-canopy kelp beds, and ultimately collapse to persistent urchin barren grounds. I will contrast monitoring trends inside/ outside marine protected areas and supplement this with long-term spatially extensive field experiments that reveal the ecological mechanisms, including reduced natural predation and range-extending herbivores plus altered dominance hierarchies of competing kelps, that are driving phase-shift and creating feedbacks locking-in alternative states. I will conclude by discussing how our collective monitoring and experimental understanding is now being used to reinstate critical ecosystem functioning safeguarding temperate reefs against collapse, and how this combined approach to understanding natural history is leading to important opportunities for scaling-up ecosystem restoration.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Keywords:phase-shifts, giant kelp, urchin barren, herbivory, ecosystem restoration
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Climate change impacts and adaptation
Research Field:Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems
UTAS Author:Ling, S (Dr Scott Ling)
UTAS Author:Soler, G (Mr German Soler Alarcon)
UTAS Author:Barrett, N (Associate Professor Neville Barrett)
UTAS Author:Keane, J (Dr John Keane)
UTAS Author:Charlton, D (Mr David Charlton)
UTAS Author:Johnson, C (Professor Craig Johnson)
UTAS Author:Sanderson, C (Dr Craig Sanderson)
UTAS Author:Bennett, S (Dr Scott Bennett)
UTAS Author:Strain, B (Dr Beth Strain)
UTAS Author:Layton, C (Dr Cayne Layton)
UTAS Author:Wright, J (Associate Professor Jeffrey Wright)
UTAS Author:Hurd, C (Professor Catriona Hurd)
UTAS Author:Stuart-Smith, R (Dr Rick Stuart-Smith)
UTAS Author:Oh, E (Miss Lizzi Oh)
UTAS Author:Cooper, A (Miss Antonia Cooper)
UTAS Author:Edgar, G (Professor Graham Edgar)
ID Code:155738
Year Published:2023
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2023-03-09
Last Modified:2023-03-16
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