Issue: Species, habitats and ecological communities - Conservation status of species and ecological communities
This is an issue under the Biodiversity theme of the Data Reporting System.
Changes to the landscape and native habitat as a result of human activity have put many species at risk and over the last two hundred years. A significant number of species of plants and animals have become extinct. According conservation status to species is a societal response to this pressure.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 provides for identification and listing of threatened species and threatened ecological communities. Threatened fauna and flora may be listed as extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or conservation dependent.
- BD-02 Conservation status of nationally significant species and ecological communities, compared with previous years
While changes in the conservation status of species and ecological communities tells us more about changes in the state of our knowledge, and community concerns than it does about the condition of species more broadly, it does provide some insight which particular species that are believe to be threatened, and allows us to focus on trends in those species as a surrogate indicator for trends in the condition of biodiversity more broadly. It should also be noted that conservation status may also change without any underlying change in the number or distribution of individuals or in the processes affecting them. This occurs when new observations result in a reassessment of area of occupancy, extent of occurrence, population size, threat status, trends in population size or other factors contributing to assessment of conservation status.
The number and conservation status of species provides information for management and research needs and options. Lack of knowledge of biological and ecological requirements of species and communities is an impediment to sustainable management. Identification of species is a prerequisite to an understanding of their requirements.
- BD-04 Listed threatened species or ecological communities for which recovery action is showing stable or increasing populations
Recovery plans set out the research and management actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, threatened species or threatened ecological communities. This indicator will help determine the effectiveness of recovery plans in improving the status of species.
- IW-30 Macroinvertebrate condition
Aquatic macroinvertebrates are a diverse group of animals that include a range of insect, crustacean and molluscan groups such as snails, water boatmen, dragonflies, stoneflies, mayflies and aquatic worms. As well as being an indicator of river condition, macroinvertebrate populations are an important aspect of freshwater biodiversity and ecological communities in their own right. Their condition is readily measured because they are widespread, easy to sample and relatively immobile.
- IW-31 Fish - Abundance and distribution
Pressures on fish species include significant changes to water flow, damage to riparian zones, removal of in-stream habitats, sedimentation, lowered water quality, thermal pollution, barriers to fish passage, and competition with and / or predation by introduced fish species. Changes in distribution and abundance of some fish species may be indicative of changes in environmental condition more broadly.
- IW-32 Frogs - Abundance and distribution
The abundance and distribution of frogs over time is an important indicator of the health of aquatic ecosystems as frogs are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Frogs are affected by habitat change, pollution, disease, predation and climate change. The global populations of frogs have been in decline for a number of years and this trend is also evident among Australian frog populations.
- IW-33 Abundance and distribution of waterbirds
Waterbirds are important culturally, socially, scientifically and as a food resource. Different functional waterbird groups provide some indication of potential changes to other aquatic biodiversity, the aquatic food web and nutrient cycles. They also provide an opportunity to indirectly explore potential effects of river management and degradation on entire ecosystems. Different waterbird species feed on a wide range of aquatic fauna and flora that form part of the food web of an aquatic system. There are the ducks (e.g. blue-billed duck Oxyura australis, grey teal Anas gracilis) that feed predominantly on small invertebrates, herbivores (e.g. black swans Cygnus atratus, Eurasian coot Fulica atra), piscivores (fish feeders, e.g. Australian pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus and cormorants Phalacrocorax sp.), small wading birds (Charadriformes) and large wading birds (Ciconiiformes). The abundance and distribution of waterbird populations is indicative of the condition of individual species, of water bird species collectively, and of the condition of wetland ecosystems and ecosystems more broadly.
- CO-01 Trends in selected groups of coastal and marine species and habitats
As well as being indicative of the condition of the ocean (and the contribution of biodiversity to that condition), condition of selected key groups of species and habitats may be indicative of the condition of biodiversity. In the absence of any way of assessing the overall condition of species, habitats and ecosystems across all Australian coastal land and coastal and marine waters, considering the condition of a selection of key species, groups of species, habitats and ecosystems is probably the closest we can come to an indicator.
- CO-02 Number of marine species that are endangered or threatened and changes in population/ distribution of selected threatened species
As well as being indicative of the condition of the ocean (and the contribution of biodiversity to that condition), condition of threatened species may be indicative of the condition of biodiversity. Number of threatened species and communities, as represented by the number that have attained legal status as threatened or endangered species, is an ambiguous indicator for loss of biodiversity. However, trends in population and distribution of selected threatened species may be broadly indicative of condition of marine biodiversity more generally.
- CO-16 Status of Australian fisheries
As well as being indicative of the condition of the ocean (and the contribution of biodiversity to that condition, and the capacity of the ocean to contribute to human life), status of fisheries may be indicative of the status of species and ecological communities more generally.
- LD-01 The proportion and area of native vegetation and changes over time
Extent of native vegetation of various types remaining is indicative of the conservation status of those vegetation types.
- AAT-08 Plankton populations
Plankton are an important part of the food web and therefore monitoring the number and composition of plankton is vital to understanding pressures on biodiversity not just in the AAT but throughout the world’s oceans.
- AAT-09 Seabird populations
Seabird populations are related to resource availability (food), behavioural mechanisms (immigration/emigration and breeding effort/success) in addition to climate change and human impacts (fisheries, tourism, pollution, disturbance), and are an indicator of pressures on biodiversity in the AAT and in the world’s oceans more generally.
- AAT-10 seal populations
Seal populations are related to resource availability (food), behavioural mechanisms (immigration/emigration and breeding effort/success) in addition to climate change and human impacts (fisheries, tourism, pollution, disturbance), and are an indicator of pressures on biodiversity in the AAT and in the world’s oceans more generally.
- AAT-11 Whale populations
Whale populations are related to resource availability (food), behavioural mechanisms (immigration/emigration and breeding effort/success) in addition to climate change and human impacts (whaling, fisheries, tourism, pollution, disturbance), and are an indicator of pressures on biodiversity in the AAT and in the world’s oceans more generally.
- AAT-12 Changes in colonies of plants on Heard Island
Understanding the coverage and type of vegetation on the non ice area of Heard Island provides an insight into the extent and nature of plant biodiversity in The AAT.
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities - Species diversity
- Biodiversity - Species, habitats and ecological communities - Community action on species and ecological communities
- Land - Land condition - Condition of terrestrial species and ecological communities
- Inland Waters - Response of biota - Macroinvertebrates
- Inland Waters - Response of biota - Fish
- Inland Waters - Response of biota - Frogs
- Inland Waters - Response of biota - Waterbirds
- Coasts and Oceans - Condition of the ocean and coastal waters - Condition of species, habitats and ecosystems
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