Thesis: A holistic approach to the ecological assessment of macroinvertebrates on intertidal rock platforms in Western Australia.
Intertidal rock platforms are extensive marine ecosystems in Western Australia (WA) that support high invertebrate diversities and provide structurally and biologically complex habitats. To understand the myriad of interactions occurring within these systems, a holistic approach is required to investigate the underlying patterns. This research aims to describe the spatial variation in macroinvertebrate assemblages and habitat on limestone rock platforms along a latitudinal gradient spanning from Beagle Bay (16°S) to Hamelin Bay (34°S) in WA. To quantify invertebrate assemblages and habitat composition the study will employ a variety of methodologies including: stratified quadrats, spatial analyses utilising remote sensing photogrammetry, differential GPS profiles and comparisons of environmental DNA (eDNA) across rock platform microhabitats. The final step of this holistic approach, involves collaborating with the Karajarri peoples in the Kimberley to conduct a case-study of how Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK) can inform western science about ecological processes and produce IEK maps for the Karajarri coastline. The case-study will utilise participatory mapping to collect data via a series of workshops with Karajarri Traditional Owners (TOs).
Why my research is important
This study is the first to extensively investigate macroinvertebrate diversity along a latitudinal gradient in WA and to document IEK about the intertidal zone. The findings of this study will contribute to documenting rock platform ecosystems in WA and implement new methodologies in the intertidal zone, which will inform future management and monitoring.