Australian Marine Parks

Keesing, J.K., Webber, B.L. and Hardiman, L.K (2021). Ashmore Reef Marine Park Environmental Assessment. Report to Parks Australia. CSIRO, Crawley, Australia.


About the publication

Parks Australia commissioned the CSIRO to undertake a survey of selected marine and terrestrial environmental values at Ashmore Reef Marine Park. The field work was undertaken on two trips, 1– 6 May and 14- 22 June 2019. This report presents the findings of that work.

For the terrestrial component, the required elements were to quantify the diversity and abundance of native and non-native plant species, determine the population status and diversity of seabirds and shorebirds on the islands, and to determine the abundance of non-native invasive tropical fire ants. The remit included any evidence of interactions between the tropical fire ants and native fauna, especially birds and turtles. In addition to these required components, non- native geckos and hermit crabs were surveyed for abundance, the latter being native fauna which would likely be most affected by future attempts to eradicate tropical fire ants. Any work on rodents was not included in the project scope.

For the marine component, the required elements were to survey coral reef communities in particular the abundance of key invertebrates which have historically been the subject of illegal fishing and over-exploitation (holothurians, trochus and tridacnid clams), the status (cover and health) of key habitat forming benthic assemblages (corals, macroalgae and seagrass) and evidence of sea snakes. In addition, surveys of fish and shark diversity and abundance were undertaken, and monitoring sites were established for seagrass biomass and productivity measurements. Incidental observations of turtle abundance were also made, and water samples collected from a subset of sites for potential future analysis of eDNA.