Poster Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Leaf to Reef: Generating critical knowledge to support resilience-based management of Lady Elliot Island (#527)

Asia O Haines 1 , Christine L Dudgeon 1 , Kathy A Townsend 1
  1. University of Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay, QLD, Australia

Lady Elliot Island is located in the southern Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and has been identified as a wildlife refuge from the harshest impacts of climate change for migrating tropical species. The island was historically strip-mined for guano and subsequent vegetation was introduced in an unplanned manner, leading to the highest abundance of invasive plant species in the Capricornia cays. In recent years, the island has undergone extensive restorative revegetation as part of the GBR Foundation’s Reef Islands Initiative program. Between 2020 and 2024 the Leaf to Reef research project set out to develop a multilevel monitoring system, both in-water and on-island, to assess the impact of the revegetation program, and the resilience and connectivity of Lady Elliot Island under a changing climate. This is being accomplished through a combination of targeted research expeditions, analysis of long-term datasets, automated data logging equipment, and established citizen science projects. Some of the outcomes of the work include: (1) compiling a baseline species diversity list for the island and surrounding waters; (2) tracing the nutrient cycle from the nesting seabirds to the reef; (3) mapping the groundwater lens of the island; and (4) determining species connectivity throughout the GBR and beyond.