Estuaries and nearshore environments
Defining estuaries and guilds
• Developing a definition of an estuary that takes into account the characteristics of macro and micro-tidal systems, permanently-open and seasonally and normally-closed estuaries and those that become hypersaline.
• Producing a series of guilds on the basis of the ways in which fish use estuaries and which is applicable worldwide.
• These studies have been key in distinguishing the unique faunal characteristics of microtidal estuaries, thereby elucidating the major differences between the faunas of particularly these systems and macrotidal estuaries, and the factors driving those differences.
• Quantifying the species compositions of fish, macroinvertebrate, meiofaunal and hyperbenthic communities over space and time, and how they respond to the effects of natural and anthropogenic environmental change.
• This work has been a major contributor to expanding the quantitative knowledge-base on the faunal ecology of WA estuaries and coastal waters (90+ publications). It has provided extremely rare multi-decadal data sets, and supported the development of multiple management and monitoring regimes.
Fish and crustacean biology
• Growth, reproduction, age, mortality, diet and genetics studies on many key fish, crab and prawn species, including comparisons of populations in estuarine and nearshore marine waters (90+ publications). See ‘Population Biology’ below for further details.
• Restocking studies on key fish and crustacean species. See ‘Population Biology’ and ‘Genetics’ below for further details.
• Acoustic telemetry studies to understand finer-scale movement patterns of key species.
Habitat classification and faunal prediction tools
• Developing quantitative and novel schemes for classifying habitats and predicting their fish and invertebrate faunas in estuarine and coastal waters.
• These schemes facilitate reliable and cost-effective methods for identifying the habitats of key species, predicting species composition and providing supporting data for biodiversity conservation planning.
Biotic indices of ecosystem health
• Development of multimetric and other biotic indices using fish and invertebrates faunas for assessing and reporting ecosystem health.
• The innovative fish-based index for assessing estuarine health has been adopted by management agencies.
Dr Fiona Valesini
Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research
90 South Street, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150