Using an autonomous underwater vehicle to inform management of biodiversity in shelf waters.
Barrett, NS and Seiler, J and Anderson, T and Williams, s and Nichol, S and Hill, Nicole, Using an autonomous underwater vehicle to inform management of biodiversity in shelf waters. , Proceedings of IEEE Oceans 2010, May 2010, Sydney, Australia, pp. 1-6. ISBN 978-1-4244-5221-7 (2010) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]
Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) have only recently become available as a tool to investigate the biological and physical composition of the seabed utilizing a suite of image capture and high-resolution geophysical tools. In this study we trialed the application of an AUV, integrating AUV image capture with ship-based high resolution multibeam bathymetry, to map benthic habitats and biodiversity in coastal and shelf waters of SE Tasmania (20 – 120 m depth). The AUV successfully surveyed a plethora of marine habitats and organisms, including high-relief kelp-dominated rocky reefs to mid-shelf reef and sediments that are otherwise difficult to access. The data collected using the AUV significantly improved our understanding of the distribution of benthic habitats and marine organisms in this region, with direct application to the management and conservation of these environments. For example, preliminary results identified the distributional extent of an introduced invasive marine pest, the screw-shell Maoricolpeus roseus, which was recorded adjacent to rocky reefs but is now known to also extend in high abundance across the SE shelf. The effectiveness of the AUV as a pioneering tool for undertaking spatially repeatable surveys makes it a highly versatile technique for future use in surveying remote environments, particularly with respect to surveying and monitoring biodiversity in newly established Commonwealth Marine Protected Areas. It also has application in the context of climate change, the study of invasive species, impacts of fishing activities and determining the relative uniqueness