Feature: Streamlining marine monitoring indicators

Approximate locations of key ecological features in commonwealth waters.
Map of Australia showing Key Ecological Features in Commonwealth Waters.

IMAGE: The KEF systems indicated here share a range of common indicators.

Indicators for marine ecosystem monitoring have proliferated in the past two decades, presenting significant challenges integrating and reporting indicator data at regional or national scales. To help overcome this problem, Marine Biodiversity Hub scientists, in collaboration with policy makers, have grouped KEFs and identified suites of indicators for these groups. The six reporting groups are: ecosystems associated with canyons; deep seabeds; areas of enhanced pelagic productivity; seamounts; shelf reefs and shelf seabeds.

This figure shows the approximate location of nine KEFs in Commonwealth waters that can be grouped to guide regional and national scale reporting on the status of and trends in areas of enhanced pelagic productivity.

The location of the KEFs aligns closely with the results of a national pelagic productivity analysis based on three productivity generating processes – upwelling areas (dominated by eddies), frontal density (thermal fronts) and eddy kinetic energy – completed independently of the KEF-identification process. In this example, there is a high degree of similarity among the indicators identified for each of these KEF systems: for example, nutrients and phytoplankton indicators are common to the vast majority of KEFs in this group and upwelling and seabirds indicators are common to at least three of these KEFs.