Dr Alexandra Campbell1, A/Prof Nicholas Paul1
1GeneCology Research Centre, University Of The Sunshine Coast, Sippy downs, Australia
Southeast Queensland, Australia is a tropical-temperate transition zone, with four unique marine ecosystems, including deep water kelp forests (the northernmost distribution of kelp in eastern Australia), coral reefs (the southernmost distribution of reef-building corals in eastern Australia), seagrass meadows and temperate seaweed gardens. The underwater habitats of southeast Queensland persist within a dynamic matrix of sand, urban estuaries and one of the fastest growing populations in Australia. Consequently, the region has undergone dramatic ecological shifts in the past several decades and we will present novel latitudinal data characterizing some of these changes, with an emphasis on the loss of several habitat-forming seaweed species from the region in the past 30 years.
Whilst population growth and coastal development (overlain with the impacts of climate change) pose many challenges for marine habitat health and function in the region, they also provide novel opportunities for innovation. We will showcase a new collaboration in southeast Queensland between aquaculture practitioners, marine scientists, and local community representatives, which aims to create a novel industry that will (i) provide a new source of income for local industries already reeling from the effects of climate change on traditionally farmed species, (ii) enhance links between industry, local communities and scientists and (iii) improve marine habitat health, biodiversity and function into an uncertain future.
Alex is an Early Career Researcher interested in solutions-focused science to solve problems caused by multiple anthropogenic stressors in coastal marine ecosystems. She is particularly interested in how microorganisms moderate species interactions with environmental change and is especially fond of seaweeds and their potential for innovative restoration in impacted marine ecosystems. Alex recently began a lectureship at USC after working for several years as a postdoc at UNSW in Sydney, Australia and today will present some of her first work from this new posting in the subtropics.