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Synthesis of marine species data for the Kimberley region

Sampey, A., Bryce, C., Fromont, J., Morrison, S., Marsh, L., Hosie, A., Huisman, J., Davie, P., Schlacher-Hoenlinger, M., Glasby, C., Willan, R., Hutchings, P. and Richards, Z. (2011) Synthesis of marine species data for the Kimberley region. In: 48th Annual Conference of the Australian Marine Science Association, 3 - 7 July, Fremantle, Western Australia.


The Kimberley region is currently of great interest due to rapidly expanding development in oil and gas, fishing, aquaculture, and tourism. It is recognised as a relatively pristine area with a high diversity of habitats and species, but there is very little published information on the species present in the region. Museums and herbaria are the repositories of species diversity datasets and house specimens collected over many decades (1880s – present). The Western Australian Museum has led 8 major biodiversity expeditions (1988-2006) to the Kimberley region, but the species lists generated from these were mostly presented in unpublished reports and are not readily accessible to managers and researchers who are interested in the biological values of the region. We considered the Kimberley region to be defined by the following coordinates: SE: 19°S, 121° 34’ E; SW: 19°S, 118° 15’ E; NE: 12°S, 129° E; NW: 12°S, 121° E. This included the Kimberley coastline and the continental shelf edge atolls of the Sahul Shelf. We collated our institutions’ data on marine plants (seagrasses, mangroves and macroalgae), sponges, cnidaria (predominately hard corals), free living worms (predominately polychaetes), crustaceans (mainly decapod crustacean and barnacles), molluscs (predominately macromolluscs > 10 mm), echinoderms, brachiopods, ascidians, bryozoans and fishes and found > 30,000 specimen records representing ~6000 shallow water (<30 m) marine floral and faunal species now known from the area. This represents a minimum diversity estimate and much work remains to be done to identify and describe new species already housed in our collections, as well as to undertake further expeditions to adequately survey the biodiversity of this region. We have a series of papers in preparation for publication by the end of 2011, where we will provide a review of the species currently known from the Kimberley from our institutions databases with commentary on the diversity trends, collection and taxonomic gaps for our respective taxa. Here we present a summary of this research.

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