Nancy H.M. Haddaden
Thesis: INFORMING FUTURE POLICIES THROUGH LINKING SCIENCE TO SOCIETY: A FRAMEWORK FOR MAINTAINING THE FLOW OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN THE PEEL-HARVEY ESTUARY
An “Ecosystems Services Approach” is increasingly being adopted as the most sustainable way to manage catchments and waterways. However, one of the limitations faced by the application of this approach is the lack of reliable data. Therefore, the present thesis will contribute new knowledge relating to ecosystem services assessment, by integrating historical patchy datasets with “virtual estuary data” created from process-based modelling, in addition to data collected throughout the research period by other ARC Linkage project partners. This will include water, sediment, nutrient flux, fish and invertebrate empirical data. The combined data will enable ecosystem service quantification, followed by economic valuation.
Why my research is important
The foremost importance of estuaries lies in the transition they provide between freshwater and the marine environment . These systems provide a hub for a lot of recreational and economic activities that tend to concentrate around them including fishing and aquaculture, commercial maritime traffic, residential and industrial development, in addition to supporting a rich biodiversity. Consequently, anthropogenic perturbations impose stresses on the functioning of these ecosystems. Examples of human impacts on estuaries include nutrient loading from urban and rural runoff, structural developments around harbours, and dredging of navigation channels, often leading to the loss of habitats. Understanding how estuaries function in light of such perturbations, taken in conjunction with the impacts of climate change, can provide valuable knowledge which will enable coastal planners to make better informed decisions. Therefore, this research project will focus on investigating the combined effects of anthropogenic interventions and climate change, which could potentially act as a threat multiplier to the sustainability of estuaries (i.e. sustainability implies that the ecosystem processes are maintained while simultaneously preserving the ecosystem services that deliver benefits to society, such as fishery produce and coastal protection).