The development of a multimetric index of ecosystem health for the Swan Estuary, Western Australia
Hallett, C. and Valesini, F. (2009) The development of a multimetric index of ecosystem health for the Swan Estuary, Western Australia. In: Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation Conference, 1 - 5 November, Portland, Oregon, USA.
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Multimetric indices, incorporating information on a range of fish community attributes, have been shown to provide an effective, simple and sensitive method for evaluating the health of aquatic environments worldwide. We outline progress in developing a multimetric index of estuarine health for the Swan Estuary, Western Australia.
An extensive suite of fish community metrics, including those reflecting species composition, diversity and abundance, and measures of trophic structure and life history function, have been tested for their suitability for incorporation into an Estuarine Health Index (EHI).
Meaningful reference conditions for the selected metrics are to be established using historical fish assemblage data (1977-2009). Reference conditions will incorporate natural spatial and temporal variability in fish assemblage characteristics, and together represent a best available standard of biotic integrity against which the current and future health of the estuary may be assessed.
Values for the EHI will be calculated for recent years, to investigate recent trends in estuarine health and to validate index sensitivity and reliability.
The scheme outlined is the first to develop fish community-based indicators of the health of estuaries in Western Australia. It is envisaged that the index developed will (i) provide managers with a reliable, practical and cost-effective method to monitor the health of the Swan Estuary; (ii) facilitate more informed management actions; (iii) provide a simple, easily understood method for communicating with the public and stakeholders. It is further envisaged that the index could potentially provide a crucial tool for assessing and comparing the health of estuaries across south-western Australia in future years.
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|Murdoch Affiliation:||Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research|
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