Biodiversity studies in the Ningaloo Reef lagoon
van Keulen, M. (2009) Biodiversity studies in the Ningaloo Reef lagoon. In: 3rd annual Ningaloo Research Symposium, 26 - 27 May, Exmouth, Western Australia.
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As part of the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship’s Ningaloo Collaboration Cluster program currently underway in Western Australia, this study aims to examine the habitats and biodiversity of lagoonal areas within Ningaloo Reef. Key habitat types were identified using information from hyperspectral remote sensing and were used to develop a stratified sampling approach. Two focal areas were selected, based on sanctuary zones within Ningaloo Marine Park: Osprey Bay in the north and Coral Bay in the central section; an additional site has recently been added at Gnaraloo in the south. A nested sampling programme was initiated within each location, consisting of surveying transects at different spatial scales: cross-reef transects (shore to back-reef) to identify major habitat types and boundaries between habitats; and finer-scale habitat surveys of biodiversity and abundance of different major groups of organisms, focussing on non-scleractinian cnidarians, macroalgae, sponges, echinoderms and molluscs. Three geomorphological categories have been sampled at each location: back-reef, lagoon and inner reefflat. Ground-truthing was carried out on the extent of habitats along defined transects selected to maximize the diversity of each site. A nested quadrat sampling regime was used to validate remotely-sensed data with field-collected data.
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