Subtidal reefs in the Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges region: A strategic approach to monitoring

Mr Danny Brock1, Dr Kristian Peters2, Dr Simon Bryars1, Mr James Brook1, Mr David Miller1, Ms Jamie Hicks1, Mr Dan Easton1

1Department of Environment and Water, Adelaide, Australia, 2Adelaide and Mt Lofty Natural Resources, Adelaide, Australia

Subtidal reefs are a critical component of nearshore marine ecosystems in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM region, both in areal extent and the ecological communities dependent on them.  They extend from Parham Reef in the north to the eastern border of the region near Middleton.  Currently there are a number of key pressures on near-shore reef habitats including pollution, water quality, invasive species, over-harvesting and climate change.

Over the years there have been a number of reef monitoring programs established across the AMLR region and while these studies have contributed to our understanding of these systems, efforts were mainly focused on metropolitan reefs.  Currently there is limited consolidated information and spatial understanding of the drivers of subtidal reef systems at the regional scale.  To effectively manage these habitats and determine the effectiveness of management actions requires adequate and consistent monitoring to assess the condition of these systems.

The AMLR Subtidal Reef Health Program, funded by the AMLR NRM Board in partnership with the Department of Environment and Water was established to improve our ability to assess status and condition of subtidal rocky reefs in the region. To date this project has for the first time, identified a suite of sites for long term monitoring, developed conceptual models that underpin our current understanding of functions and pressures including knowledge gaps and using standard and repeatable survey techniques established the baseline status of these reefs.


Bio to come

Improving coastal benthos mapping with hyperspectral imagery

Dr Ken Clarke1, Mr Andrew Hennessy1, Dr Milena Fernandes2, Prof. Megan Lewis1

1School Of Biological Sciences, The University Of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia, 2Australian Water Quality Centre, South Australian Water Corporation, Adelaide, Australia

Marine benthos is a vital part of the marine ecosystem, and a large carbon sink and store. However, it is not well mapped or monitored. Here we evaluated the potential of hyperspectral imagery to improve the accuracy of basic benthos mapping (bare substrate versus non-substrate), and to discriminate the dominant seagrass genera (i.e., Amphibolis spp., Posidonia spp.) and bare sediment. The study was conducted along the Adelaide Metropolitan coast, but results should be generalisable to other similar regions globally. Some pre-processing was necessary to remove sun-glint, and normalise depth related effects on reflectance. Finally, the mapping was compared to previous mapping (2013) to determine the occurrence of seagrass meadow regrowth or loss. The work was very successful. For basic benthos mapping we demonstrated very high accuracy (98 % overall accuracy). For genus level mapping accuracy was very high in areas of ideal image quality (93 %), and high in areas of lower image quality (80 %). Three large areas of seagrass regrowth and one large area of seagrass loss were detected. The 2013 benthos mapping had no formal accuracy assessment, but qualitatively was lower accuracy than the basic benthos mapping presented here. We have demonstrated the potential of hyperspectral imagery for more accurate and more detailed benthic mapping. These results may provide new insight into the drivers of benthos loss and regrowth, and hence enable better directed and more effective management of these precious resources.


Ken is interested in translating remote sensing research into management relevant information, to improve understanding, monitoring and management of natural and built systems. His interest stems from a belief that human aspirations and intrinsic environmental values are equally important, and that with the right information and perspective we can pursue our aspirations and improve our environmental stewardship.

Fixated on fledglings – 10 years of monitoring the breeding success of the Hooded Plover and other beach nesting birds in SA

Ms Emma Stephens1, Ms Aleisa Lamanna2, Dr Grainne Maguire3, Dr Meghan Cullen4, Ms Renee Mead5, Mr Tony Flaherty6

1Birdlife Australia, Natural Resources AMLR, Adelaide, Australia, 2Birdlife Australia, Natural Resources AMLR, Adelaide, Australia, 3BirdLife Australia, Melbourne, Australia, 4BirdLife Australia, Melbourne, Australia, 5BirdLife Australia, Melbourne, Australia, 6Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges, Adelaide, Australia

Beach-nesting Birds are at the coalface on our beaches. They act as indicators of coastal health and are a great way to connect with the community. Since 2009 BirdLife Australia and Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges have partnered to monitor and assist the breeding success of these tiny but tenacious birds. Many of the sites these birds use are on land under care and control of local government, and key to their conservation are partnerships with local councils to increase awareness of beach-goers and local management of nest sites. A snapshot of key findings in the 10 years of intensive Hooded Plover monitoring on the Fleurieu Peninsula and the first season of Fairy Tern monitoring on Bird Island, Outer Harbour will be presented. How are these species fairing across southern Australia and what can you do to help?


Emma Stephens and Aleisa Lamanna coordinate the Sharing our Shores with Coastal Wildlife Project, hosted by BirdLife Australia and supported by the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. The Project focuses on coastal bird research and conservation including a number of citizen science and awareness raising programs.

Broadscale habitat condition of Spencer Gulf: changing condition and cumulative pressures

Mr Matthew Nelson1

1Environment Protection Authority SA, Adelaide, Australia

Spencer Gulf has some of the most extensive Posidonia seagrass meadows in the world, which support vast fisheries, capture carbon, stabilise sediments and assimilate nutrients. However, habitats are sensitive to environmental change, which jeopardises the services they provide. The EPA runs a large broadscale monitoring program, developed to detect potential impact of nutrient enrichment throughout South Australia. The EPA monitored habitat condition in Spencer Gulf across over 100 sites between 2010-2018 and found that throughout the region there has been broadscale habitat decline including sites changing from moderate to dense seagrass habitat to bare sand with the system now considered mesotrophic rather than oligotrophic. Some areas showed clear association to known anthropogenic nutrient sources, but interestingly, further north in the Gulf the association to known sources was not clear-cut.

The multiple uses within Spencer Gulf are well known, but with this comes cumulative impacts from all sources including industry, aquaculture, stormwater, agriculture and wastewater. Interrogation of discharge data suggests that nutrient inputs have remained stable over the last ~20 years, but we are seeing on-going habitat decline.  Are the habitats in northern Spencer Gulf at a tipping point and could the rising sea surface temperature and marine heatwaves contribute to stress that could push them over the edge?


Completed undergrad and Honers in Marine Biology at Flinders University. I joined the EPA in 2009 and have been involved implementing and delivery of the Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports for the nearshore marine environments for South Australia.

About provides delegate registration, website and app solutions, and financial management for conferences, conventions and scientific meetings.

Terms & Conditions

All registrations and bookings are subject to our standard term and conditions.

Contact Us

Please contact the team at with any questions regarding the conference.
© 2017 - 2020 Conference Design Pty Ltd. is a division of Conference Design Pty Ltd.