Project Summary

This proposal represents a collaborative bid on behalf of the National Adaptation Research Networks for Water Resources and Freshwater Biodiversity, Marine Biodiversity and Resources, Terrestrial Biodiversity, Settlements and Infrastructure and Social, Economic and Institutional Dimensions.

This project will synthesise knowledge of climate change impacts on Australian coastal ecosystems and integrate our understanding of potential adaptive pathways, both ecological and human, to identify priorities for future research and management. By capitalising on the considerable expertise represented by the Adaptation Research Networks, this project will also foster a spirit of interdisciplinary collaboration at the interface of network jurisdictions and encourage innovation to climate change adaptation.

In the first ‘Work Package’, we will catalogue data sources, including published and grey literature as well as spatial datasets, and synthesise knowledge of historical and projected climatic changes in Australian coastal ecosystems, as well as documented and predicted ecosystem impacts of climate change. Physical, chemical and biological elements will be considered across multiple scales. Priority ecosystems, species and processes will be identified and conceptual models will be developed for these.

In Work Package 2 we will catalogue and review knowledge of ecological adaptive pathways in coastal ecosystems including known thresholds, adaptive loops, alternative stable states and regime shifts. Conceptual models will be expanded to incorporate these important features.

In Work Package 3 we will review existing and proposed human adaptation strategies to climate change in coastal zones and assess their impacts on priority ecosystems, species and processes. We will also review non-climatic threats to Australian coastal ecosystems and approaches to their management, and assess potential interactions between these and human climate adaptation strategies. We will draw on databases and spatial analyses from prior work packages to conduct an Australia-wide regional risk assessment for coastal ecosystems to contribute to a decision support framework for human management actions and conduct at least threetwo in-depth regional case studies to investigate interactions amongst a range of ecological and human systems in real-world settings.

The fourth Work Package will provide a variety of synthesis products for a range of audiences including information sheets, and synthesis papers for submission to peer-reviewed journals. Information for a coastal ecosystem section in the next version of the Report Card of Marine Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation will be prepared.