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Seagrass Ecology

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Dr Rob Coles


Theme Leader - Dr Rob Coles

The Seagrass Ecology group specialises in tropical research with a specific interest in the Indo-Pacific region but also manages projects that extend globally. The group has a strong focus on research, advising management agencies responsible for coastal development and coastal planning decisions.

Global leaders in tropical seagrass research

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    Seagrass meadows are an important source of food for marine herbivores.
    Extensive experience with Environmental Impact Statement development, implementation and review
  • Expertise in marine plant biology and coastal ecosystem linkages, in environmental condition and trend monitoring, spatial risk assessment, marine pest incursions and in developing trigger points for management decisions
  • Provides secretarial support for the World Seagrass Association
  • Operates Seagrass-Watch HQ a seagrass monitoring project involving scientific and citizen groups around the world, and supports and assists with organising the International Seagrass Biology Workshop Series
  • Research and monitoring projects in all major Queensland Ports north of Brisbane, an extensive monitoring and assessment role in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, monitors and maps seagrass meadows in the Gulf of Carpentaria and has a training, mapping, monitoring and research project in the Torres Strait
  • Specialises in research advising management responsible for coastal development and coastal planning.


Research staff

    From top left: Mrs Catherine Bryant, Ms Alexandra Carter, Mrs Katie Chartrand, Dr Rob Coles (Theme Leader), Ms Jaclyn Davies, Dr Jessie Jarvis, Ms Skye McKenna, Dr Len McKenzie, Dr Jane Mellors, Dr Michael Rasheed, Mrs Carissa Reason, Ms Helen Taylor (not shown), Dr Paul York

    Featured research programmes

    Port Assessments & Monitoring Button Torres Strait Seagrass Meadows Button Shipping Risks Button Light Thresholds Button Modelling Seagrass Distribution Button Deepwater Seagrass Button Dugong Grazing Button Torres Strait Seagrass Observer Program Button

    Key Partners

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    What are seagrasses?

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    Seagrasses are specialised marine flowering plants that grow in the nearshore marine environment of most of the world’s continents. They survive in a range of conditions and locations; from upper estuarine to deeper than 60 metres.

    Seagrasses support food webs by virtue of their physical structure and primary production and are breeding grounds and nurseries for important crustacean, finfish and shellfish populations. They are the basis of a detrital food chain and provide food for green sea turtles, nearly 100 fish species, waterfowl and for the marine mammal the dugong.  Seagrasses filter nutrients and contaminants from the water, stabilise sediments and act as dampeners to wave action and store carbon.

    Seagrasses rank with coral reefs and mangroves as productive coastal habitats and strong linkages among these habitats make the loss of seagrasses a contributing factor in the degradation of the world’s oceans.

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