Project profile: Supporting management and recovery of threatened species

Peter Kyne | Barry Bruce

Threatened species research started as a relatively small development project on euryhaline elasmobranchs under Theme 2, but early promising results led to the addition of emerging priority research on White Sharks.

The project investigated the distribution, movements, habitat use and status of threatened sawfishes, river sharks and White Sharks, including options to effectively assess and monitor the status of threatened species. It provided world-first abundance estimates for White Sharks and Speartooth Sharks, and developed novel molecular and statistical tools for estimating demographic parameters, abundance and population status.

End-user engagement

Working through the NERP Marine Biodiversity Hub gave us an unprecedented level of collaboration and communication, both between research partners, and with the Department of the Environment. A team of scientists with ecological, technical, and resource management expertise provided diverse research capacity, and regular communication made a strong contribution to policy making and management. For example, expert advice was provided on updating species recovery plans, assessments of proposed developments for their effect on threatened species, and on Australian submissions to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Building capacity

Research tools developed during this work ranged from the molecular to the landscape scale and included species-level ecological and technical expertise essential for designing future monitoring programs. Cutting-edge genetic and statistical techniques (close-kin mark-recapture) were developed and applied to key management questions. Extensive arrays of acoustic receivers (130 receivers) were deployed in seven Northern Territory and Queensland river systems to monitor tagged animals (10 species and some 400 individuals). These arrays and tagged individuals will provide data for up to five more years. Tagged juvenile White Sharks will also provide ongoing movement data for population modelling, via acoustic receivers spanning Australia’s east coast.


This research provided up-to-date information to assist in mapping, monitoring, assessments and referrals. It also identified for the first time practical options for monitoring and assessing ‘difficult to assess’ aquatic threatened species.

Barry Bruce

Barry Bruce

Peter Kyne

Peter Kyne

Research partners

Australia Zoo

Department of Fisheries

Western Australia

Flinders University

Griffith University

Integrated Marine Observing System

Kakadu National Park

Malak Malak Traditional Owners and Ranger Group

Melbourne Aquarium

Murdoch University

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries

NERP Northern Australia Hub

Northern Territory Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries

South Australian Research and Development Institute

Tag For Life

Territory Wildlife Park

University of Queensland


Peter Kyne
(08) 8946 7616