Working Sectors

An overview of our capabilities, expertise and experience is provided below. Please click on the links for further information associated with each capability, or contact us directly.

We are commonly engaged on projects associated with natural resource management sectors, including:

Australian Marine Ecology has broad experience and operations capability for working in most coastal marine habitats, including:

Much of our expertise and work is associated with temperate habitats in southern Australia. We are also involved in tropical habitats, particularly associated with nature conservation, marine mammals and turtles and deep habitat surveys.

We specialise in quantitative field ecology at a range of different scales, including:

  • reconnaissance and pilot surveys;
  • baseline and existing conditions surveys of biodiversity and natural values; and
  • long term monitoring of populations, communities and habitats.

Our research and applied studies include aspects of:

  • ecophysiology;
  • species biology and population dynamics;
  • community structure and dynamics;
  • ecosystem functions and interactions; and
  • environmental drivers of ecosystems.

Biodiversity and Natural Values

Australian Marine Ecology is commissioned for a wide range of biodiversity and natural values surveys. These include projects with targeted natural resource management objectives, multidisciplinary research projects, and for strategic knowledge building initiatives. This work includes description of key ecological components and processes, species diversity measurement, community composition assessment and classification, population abundance and size/age structure quantification, spatial pattern and distribution mapping, documenting temporal dynamics and the identification of important natural values and ecosystem services.

Our experience and expertise includes:

  • review and synthesis of existing information;
  • qualitative and quantitative surveys of species, communities and habitats;
  • classification of species, communities, habitat facies and biogeography;
  • measurements of specific biological and ecological parameters;
  • quantitative analysis and description;
  • modelling of growth, populations, patches, dispersal and other processes; and
  • identification and assessment of important natural values, such as biodiversity hot spots, primary productivity, nursery habitats, aggregation areas, stability and vulnerability.

Monitoring Programs

Our experience in designing monitoring programs includes pilot and baseline studies, selection of appropriate monitoring components and indicators, sampling and experimental design and implementation of quantitative field methods. We implement quality control and assurance procedures, develop and design databases and advise on suitable budgets for sampling schedules. In addition to design and implementation, we are also heavily involved in the management of field sampling, databases and reports for a variety of on-going monitoring programs.

Monitoring components we have been involved with include:

  • chemical, physical and biological water quality;
  • plankton, seagrass, infauna and reef populations and communities;
  • intertidal to deep habitats;
  • toxicants and bioaccumulation; and
  • photosynthesis and photokinetic parameters.

Our project experience includes:

  • fishery independent stock surveys;
  • marine protected area monitoring;
  • environmental impact assessments of wastewater and brine outfalls;
  • environmental impact assessments of dredging activities;
  • development of quantitative methods and standard operational procedures;
  • development of quality assurance project plans; and
  • development of management systems, including monitoring assessment and trigger processes for adaptive management cycles.

Mapping and Spatial Studies

Australian Marine Ecology has considerable experience in habitat mapping, this being an important component for natural resource management. Our mapping capabilities and expertise include: use of hydroacoustic methods such as sidescan sonar, multibeam echosounder, forward scanning sonar and single beam echograms; use of remote sensing by aerial photography, LIDAR and satellite; ground truthing by diving, towed video, AUV video and ROV video; classification and mapping of habitat facies, habitat types and assemblage structures; development of GIS data and layers; spatial pattern and trend analyses; and spatial modelling.

Our experience and expertise in habitat mapping and spatial analyses include:

  • mapping of intertidal, seagrass, sediment and reef habitats;alt
  • sidescan sonar mapping of marine protected area habitats and construction impacts;
  • digital echogram analysis for habitat classification and mapping;
  • digital elevation model construction from multibeam and geoswath echosounder surveys;
  • mapping coastal vegetation and seagrass beds using satellite imagery;
  • description, classification and segmentation of physical and biological seabed features from acoustic and video data;
  • analysis of spatial relationships between biological and environmental and parameters;
  • modelling spatial dispersal of rockfalls into a canyon and across different habitat types;
  • analysis of spatial trends associated with wastewater discharges and dispersal;
  • microtopography mapping using stereo imagery.

Fisheries and Aquaculture

Our involvement in fisheries and aquaculture includes: alt

  • fishery co-management and steering committees;
  • preparation and review of fishery management plans, including indicators, triggers and actions;
  • fishery independent stock assessment surveys;
  • research on population biology, dynamics, parameter estimation and ecological interactions;
  • population dynamics and modelling;
  • risk assessments;
  • ecosystem based fishery management;
  • habitat mapping and condition assessment; and
  • baseline and impact monitoring of aquaculture operations.

Marine Pests and Pathogens

We have been involved in many studies of marine pests and pathogens in Tasmania and Victoria. Much of this work uses diver and ROV methods.

Our involvement in marine pest and pathogen studies include:alt

  • development of protocols for preventing pest translocation;
  • surveys and monitoring of status of natural habitats;
  • inspections and status of infrastructure, including oil rigs, dredgers, jackup barges, vessel hulls and subsea installations;
  • assessment and removal of initial colonisers, particularly Japanese kelp; and
  • monitoring of pest and pathogen abundance, effects, locations, dispersal and ecological impacts.

Conservation and Marine Protected Areas

Our involvement in conservation of threatened species and communities includes:

  • nature conservation reviews;
  • surveys of biodiversity and key natural values of areas;
  • scientific advisory committees for listing threatened species, communities and threatening processes;
  • preparation and review of management and action plans for listed species, communities and threatened processes; and
  • field surveys and biological investigations of listed species, communities and threatening processes

Our involvement in marine protected areas includes:

  • design and planning of marine protected areas;
  • long-term monitoring of populations, communities and habitats within marine protected areas and reference areas;
  • biological status assessments of marine protected areas;
  • development and review of management plans; and
  • review of marine protected area efficiantcy and performance.

Environmental Impact Assessment

A large portion of Australian Marine Ecology’s work includes environmental and ecological impact assessments. These include for dredging activities, subsea pipelines and cables, installations and infrastructure and discharges of wastewater and brine.

Work for assessments and prediction for EIA in the proposal and planning phase includes:

  • information review and scoping;
  • biodiversity, existing conditions and natural values surveys;
  • measurement and description of ecological processes;
  • baseline monitoring;
  • modelling and prediction;
  • risk assessments;
  • impact statement preparation;
  • design of monitoring and management systems
  • management plan preparation;
  • peer reviews; and
  • panel hearings.

Experience in impact assessment of industry activities includes:

  • water and sediment quality monitoring;
  • biological impact monitoring and assessments;
  • adaptive management evaluation;
  • peer reviews.

Seagrass Beds

Australian Marine Ecology has studied a large number of seagrass habitat types and sites, including Zostera muelleri, Zostera nigricaulis, Amphibolis antarctica and Posidonia australis. We have been at the forefront of work in Victoria to determine light climates required to sustain seagrass beds, modelling biomass and patch dynamics and using growth reconstruction of internode lengths to examine historical growth patterns, with discriminatory power to over 20 years in some cases. We also have experience in mapping seagrass distributions and monitoring abundance, growth and impacts.

We typically use diving, underwater visual census, instrument loggers, towed and AUV video, satellite imagery, sidescan sonar, respiration chambers and computer modelling methods for our seagrass investigations.

Australian Marine Ecology’s seagrass experience includes: alt

  • monthly monitoring of seagrass  density, growth  and production in Port Phillip Bay;
  • long-term monitoring of Amphibolis antarctica seagrass abundance in central Victoria;
  • measurement of photosynthesis and light climates of Zostera nigricaulis and Amphibolis antarctica in Port Phillip Bay;
  • long-term growth dynamics reconstruction for Amphibolis and Posidonia in Victoria;
  • modelling seagrass primary production, growth, architecture and patch dynamics;
  • impact assessment of dredge suspended sediment plumes on seagrasses in Port Phillip Bay, Corner Inlet and Lakes Entrance; and
  • surveys of associated faunal assemblages.

Australian Marine Ecology is presently developing light-driven clonal growth models as part of its research and development program. These will assist in determining sustainable light climates for effective seagrass bed management.

Sediment communities

Australian Marine Ecology has in-house soft sediment experts with considerable experience in the study of benthic infaunal and epibenthic communities.

We use diver hand cores and suction cores, vessel operated corers and grabs, diving underwater visual census, scientific single beam sonar, sidescan sonar, AUV video transects, ROV video census, instrument loggers, respiration chambers and computer modelling methods for our sediment studies.

Our experience and expertise in bare sediment habitats includes:

  • baseline surveys of infauna and epibenthic plants and animals of proposed aquaculture in Victoria;
  • description and mapping of infaunal communities in estuarine and coastal shelf habitats around Australia and New Zealand;
  • description of infaunal and epibiota marine pests within Port Phillip Bay;
  • infaunal taxonomy and publication of keys and identification guide;
  • monitoring of microphytobenthos biomass and photokinetic parameters;
  • modelling of microphytobenthos photosynthesis, primary production and biomass in Port Phillip Bay;
  • impact assessment of dredge suspended sediment plumes on microphytobenthos in Port Phillip Bay;
  • impact of dredge sediment plume sedimentation and dredged material placement in Victoria and New Zealand;
  • impact assessment of wastewater discharges on infaunal diversity and community structure in northern Tasmania;
  • measurement and monitoring of environmental parameters such as grain size, organic carbon, nutrients, dissolved oxygen and redox potential of sediments;
  • ecology of drift-algal beds in Port Phillip Bay, including seasonal changes in nutrient content; and
  • surveys of biodiversity associated with Pyura clump habitat.

Intertidal Habitats

Australian Marine Ecology has extensively studied Victorian intertidal habitats extensively. Australian Marine Ecology is at the forefront of studies on the Victorian coast; including development and implementation of standardised long term monitoring methods.

Australian Marine Ecology staff have extensive experience in the monitoring and impact assessment of intertidal reef communities. This has included assessments of sewage effluent discharges; installations of aquaculture seawater pipes and port and harbour developments.

We typically use visual census, aerial photography and satellite imagery methods for our intertidal investigations.

Our intertidal project experience also includes:

  • Victorian Intertidal Reef Monitoring Program;
  • assessment of aquaculture intake pipe alignments;
  • assessment of beach fauna and habitats for sub-sea cable installations;
  • habitat assessments and mapping for pier, ports and harbours developments;
  • intertidal community surveys for harbour management; and
  • literature reviews.

Shallow Reef Communities

Australian Marine Ecology has considerable expertise in shallow reef investigations, including long-term monitoring for over 13 years at sites throughout Victoria. This has provided invaluable insights into population and community stability/dynamics.

We typically use diving, underwater visual census, photoquadrats, diver-operated stereo video (DOVS), baited video stations (BRUVS), individual tagging, specimen sampling, trapping, instrument loggers, towed and AUV video, satellite imagery, sidescan sonar, multibeam echosounder, respiration chambers and larval settlement plate methods for our shallow reef investigations.

Our shallow reef expertise and experience includes:

  • community-environment associations in Tasmania and Victoria;
  • classification and biogeography of assemblages;
  • long term monitoring of populations and communities from sheltered to exposed communities;
  • taxonomy and curation of new species;
  • description and mapping of assemblages and habitats;
  • monitoring and mapping pests and pathogens, including abalone virus, kelp dieback and Japanese kelp in Tasmania and Victoria;
  • measurement and modelling of seaweed photosynthesis and primary production;
  • impact assessment of dredge suspended sediment plumes;
  • impact assessment of wastewater and brine discharges;
  • impact assessment of subsea installations;
  • population biology of seaweeds, fishes, abalone and rock lobster;
  • description and monitoring of sea urchin barrens;
  • status assessment of marine protected areas in Victoria and Tasmania; and
  • nature conservation assessments and reviews.

Deep Reef Communities

Australian Marine Ecology has surveyed extensive areas of deep reef habitat in Victoria and is at the forefront of deep reef science in Australia. We developed standardised, quantitative methods for monitoring abundances and assemblage structure of sessile invertebrate communities in temperate and tropical habitats.

alt We typically use ROV video quadrat census, ROV stereo video, AUV transect video, AUV stereo video, limited diving (< 30 m), baited video stations (BRUVS), trapping and multibeam echosounder methods for our deep reef investigations. Australian Marine Ecology has considerable experience of ROV deployments in a range of difficult deep environments, including Bass Strait, The Rip in Port Phillip Heads and Lihou Reef in the Coral Sea.

Our deep reef expertise and experience includes: 

  • development of standardised quantitative ROV survey methods and video frame abundance measurement;
  • description, classification and mapping of sessile invertebrate assemblage types;
  • sessile invertebrate community-environment associations in Victoria;
  • Victorian biogeography;
  • habitat facies mapping;
  • modelling and impact prediction of rock falls from dredging in Port Phillip Heads;
  • monitoring and impact assessment of rock falls from dredging in Port Phillip Heads;
  • impact assessments of brine discharges in Victoria;
  • conservation assessment of canyon communities in Port Phillip Heads;
  • marine protected area surveys at The Arches, Twelve Apostles and Wilsons Promontory;
  • exploratory surveys at Lihou Reef, Coral Sea;
  • ROV stereo video fish transect surveys;
  • baited video fish surveys (BRUVS); and
  • development of high resolution stereo video for sessile invertebrate volume and morphological measurements and mosaic mapping.

Shelf Communities

Australian Marine Ecology has capability and experience in shelf studies, including acoustic habitat mapping, video transects, sediment infauna studies, epibiota biodiversity studies, as well as taxonomy of infauna and benthic sharks. We typically use ROV video quadrat census, AUV and towed video transects, multibeam echosounder and surface vessel corers, grabs and trawls. We also have capability for ROV and AUV stereo video and baited video station (BRUVS) surveys. We usually work in conjunction with multidisciplinary teams during shelf community and habitat investigations.

Our expertise and experience of shelf communities and habitats include:

  • taxonomic revision of the dogshark genus Squalus;.
  • impact assessment of subsea structures, including power and optical fibre cables, on epibiota in Bass Strait;
  • multibeam echosounder habitat mapping, southeast Tasmania; and
  • infaunal assemblages, sediment abiotic parameters and biological-environment associations and distributions off Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Water Quality and Planktonalt

Australian Marine Ecology has considerable experience in water quality and plankton monitoring studies. These include regular field sampling and monitoring, organisation of laboratory analyses and data analysis and interpretation. Our methods typically follow standardised methods, particularly IMOS methods, and use phytoplankton and zooplankton nets, conductivity-temperature-depth (CTD) probes, physico-chemical depth profiling instruments, Niskin bottle and suction pipe water sampling for laboratory analysis, underway transect sampling, satellite data, current measurements and mussel toxicant bioaccumulation.

Our expertise and experience of water quality and plankton studies include: 

  • sampling for nutrients and toxicants;
  • sampling and netting for phytoplankton and zooplankton;
  • use of in situ loggers for time series monitoring;
  • use of AUV and towed instruments for water quality mapping;
  • wastewater outfall baseline and impact monitoring studies;
  • dredge plume dispersal and impact studies;
  • rhodamine dye and salinity  marker dispersal studies;
  • public beach water quality monitoring; and
  • quality assurance project plans for QAQC of monitoring programs.

Marine Mammals, Pelagics and Reptiles

Australian Marine Ecology has in-house expertise in surveys associated with marine mammals, turtles, dugongs and, to a lesser extent sea snakes and seabirds. Our capability includes trained and experienced observers, standardised survey and line-transect methods, hydrophones, tracking by land, vessel and tagging methods, vessel handlers experienced in manoeuvring among whales, and statistical and stochastic modelling of behaviour, movements and interactions.

Our expertise and experience of marine mammal and similar studies include:alt

  • marine mammal observer for seismic, oil and gas operations around Australia and in New Zealand;
  • provision of training in marine mammal stranding response;
  • pelagic biodiversity and abundance line-transect surveys by vessel and aircraft;
  • dolphin and whale biopsies and tagging;
  • acoustic/hydrophone sampling and monitoring;
  • sightings and identification database management;
  • behaviour, movement and tracking studies;
  • development of observer and operational guidelines for industry activities;
  • development of whale watching guidelines for ecotourism; and
  • support and services to the documentary film industry.

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