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The conservation significance of estuaries: a classification of Tasmanian estuaries using ecological, physical and demographic attributes as a case study


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Barrett, NS, Edgar, GJ, Graddon, DJ and Last, PR 2000 , 'The conservation significance of estuaries: a classification of Tasmanian estuaries using ecological, physical and demographic attributes as a case study' , Biological Conservation, vol. 92 , pp. 383-397 , doi: 10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00111-1.

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Estuaries arguably represent the most anthropogenically-degraded habitat-type on earth, with few estuaries in temperate and
tropical regions existing in a near pristine state. Conservation of estuarine biodiversity requires recognition that different estuary
types are subjected to particular types and levels of human impact. To protect assemblages associated with all estuary types in
Tasmania, Australia, the conservation significance of the I II large- and moderate-size estuaries in the island state were assessed by
firstly categorising estuaries into nine groups on the basis of similarities in physical attributes. These attributes were quantified using
GIS maps of estuaries and their catchments and field-_collected data, with separation of groups primarily reflecting presence of a
seaward barrier, tidal range, salinity, estuary size and river runoff. The adequacy of the physical groups as surrogates for biological
patterns was assessed by comparison with data on the distribution of 390 macrobenthic invertebrate taxa in 48 Tasmanian estuaries
and 101 beach-seined fish species in 75 estuaries. Multivariate analyses indicated that six of the nine estuarine groups based on
physical data were useful for categorising biological relationships between estuaries, but that three groups required modification to
prove more biologically meaningful. Within each of the estuarine groups, human population, landuse and land tenure data were
used to assess the level of anthropogenic disturbance to each estuary, and the estuary with least disturbance in each group assigned
highest conservation significance. Recommendations have been made to create a comprehensive system of estuarine protected areas
by legislating to protect species within the nine representative estuaries of highest conservation significance, plus an additional
estuary with exceptional species richness. Such a system of protected areas should conserve the range of estuarine biodiversity with
minimal disruption to existing estuary users.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Barrett, NS and Edgar, GJ and Graddon, DJ and Last, PR
Journal or Publication Title: Biological Conservation
ISSN: 0006-3207
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00111-1
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