Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 435–447 | Cite as

Moving beyond the conceptual: specificity in regional climate change adaptation actions for biodiversity in South East Queensland, Australia

  • Luke P. Shoo
  • Julian O’Mara
  • Karin Perhans
  • Jonathan R. Rhodes
  • Rebecca K. Runting
  • Susanne Schmidt
  • Lochran W. Traill
  • Lui C. Weber
  • Kerrie A. Wilson
  • Catherine E. Lovelock
Original Article


While many scientific assessments have been recommending general strategies for biodiversity conservation under climate change, translation of these recommendations into specific actions and practice has been limited. Focusing on two biomes, rainforest and wetlands in biodiverse South East Queensland, Australia, we demonstrate how general principles can be translated into specific actions for stakeholders and responsible agencies. We synthesize research that is contextualizing protection of refugia and habitat connectivity, establishing baseline data sets to detect change and developing strategic conservation planning scenarios to adjust reserve boundaries or situate new reserves. This has been achieved by coupling spatial information on biological assets (i.e. ecosystems and species) with future climate scenarios and process models to anticipate movement of critical habitats. Conservation planning software is also being used to prioritize investment to meet specific objectives. This approach is enabling us to identify at-risk biological assets, opportunities to ameliorate threats and obstacles to delivering regional adaptation actions. A larger total reserved area is needed, with proactive planning to capture areas further inland and along watercourses. Major obstacles include conflict between urbanization and priorities for habitat conservation and the need for greater levels of investment for monitoring programmes and to protect landward shifted wetlands on private land.


Actions Threats Conservation Evidence Adaptation 



This paper is part of the South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative, a partnership between the Queensland and Australian Governments, the CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship, Griffith University, University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Queensland. The Initiative aims to provide research knowledge to enable the region to adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change. We thank two anonymous reviewers and guest editor Ryan McAllister for useful comments that improved the manuscript.


  1. Abal EG, Dennison WC, Greenfield PF (2001) Managing the Brisbane River and Moreton Bay: an integrated research and management program to reduce impacts on an Australian estuary. Water Sci Technol 43:57–70Google Scholar
  2. Abel N, Gorddard R, Harman B, Leitch A, Langridge J, Ryan A, Heyenga S (2011) Sea level rise, coastal development and planned retreat: analytical framework, governance principles and an Australian case study. Environ Sci Policy 14(3):279–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aburto-Oropeza O, Ezcurra E, Danemann G, Valdez V, Murray J, Sala E (2008) Mangroves in the Gulf of California increase fishery yields. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105(30):10456–10459CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adam P (2002) Saltmarshes in a time of change. Environ Conserv 29:39–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Adame MF, Neil D, Wright SF, Lovelock CE (2010) Sedimentation within and among mangrove forests along a gradient of geomorphological settings. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 86(1):21–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Alongi DM (2002) Present state and future of the world’s mangrove forests. Environ Conserv 29:331–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Alongi DM (2008) Mangrove forests: resilience, protection from tsunamis, and responses to global climate change. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 76:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ashcroft MB (2010) Identifying refugia from climate change. J Biogeogr 37:1407–1413Google Scholar
  9. Barbier EB, Koch EW, Silliman BR, Hacker SD, Wolanski E, Primavera J, Granek EF, Polasky S, Aswani S, Cramer LA, Stoms DM, Kennedy CJ, Bael D, Kappel CV, Perillo GME, Reed DJ (2008) Coastal ecosystem-based management with nonlinear ecological functions and values. Science 319(5861):321–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beck S (2011) Moving beyond the linear model of expertise? IPCC and the test of adaptation. Reg Environ Change 11(2):297–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bennett KD, Proven J (2008) What do we mean by ‘refugia’. Quat Sci Rev 27:2449–2455CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Burgman MA, Keith D, Hopper SD, Widyatmoko D, Drill C (2007) Threat syndromes and conservation of the Australian flora. Biol Conserv 134(1):73–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Burley JG, McAllister RJ, Collins KA, Lovelock C (2012) Integration, synthesis and climate change adaptation: a narrative based on coastal wetlands at the regional scale. Reg Environ Change 12:581–593CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connell JH, Tracey JG, Webb LJ (1984) Compensatory recruitment, growth, and mortality as factors maintaining rain forest tree diversity. Ecol Monogr 54(2):142–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Costanza R, d’Arge R, de Groot R, Farber S, Grasso M, Hannon B, Limburg K, Naeem S, O’Neill RV, Paruelo J, Raskin RG, Sutton P, van den Belt M (1997) The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital. Nature 387:253–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Craft C, Clough J, Ehman J, Joye S, Park R, Pennings S, Guo HY, Machmuller M (2009) Forecasting the effects of accelerated sea-level rise on tidal marsh ecosystem services. Front Ecol Environ 7:73–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crisp MD, Laffan S, Linder HP, Monro A (2001) Endemism in the Australian flora. J Biogeogr 28(2):183–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. DECCW (2010) Border ranges rainforest biodiversity management plan—NSW and Queensland. Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  19. Dobrowski SZ (2011) A climatic basis for microrefugia: the influence of terrain on climate. Glob Change Biol 17:1022–1035CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Duke, N. C., P. Lawn, C. M. Roelfsema, S. Phinn, K. N. Zahmel, D. Pedersen, C. Harris, N. Steggles and C. Tack (2003). Assessing historical change in coastal environments. Port Curtis, Fitzroy River Estuary and Moreton Bay regions, Final report to the CRC for coastal zone estuary and waterway management. Historical coastlines project marine botany group, Centre for marine studies, The University of Queensland, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  21. Eslami-Andargoli L, Dale P, Sipe N, Chaseling J (2009) Mangrove expansion and rainfall patterns in Moreton Bay, Southeast Queensland Australia. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 85:292–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fenton M, Marshall N (2001) A Guide to the Fishers of Queensland. Technical Report, CRC Reef Research CentreGoogle Scholar
  23. GCCC (2009a) Gold Coast City Council Nature Conservation Strategy 2009–2019. Gold Coast City Council, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  24. GCCC (2009b) Gold Coast City Vegetation Community Representation Report. Gold Coast, Australia, GCCCGoogle Scholar
  25. GCCC (2010) Numinbah Conservation Area native Vegetation Restoration Plan. Gold Coast Gold Coast City Council, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  26. GCCC (2012) Bally Mountain Conservation Reserves Draft management Plan. Gold Coast City Council, Gold CoastGoogle Scholar
  27. Gilman EL, Ellison J, Duke NC, Field C (2008) Threats to mangroves from climate change and adaptation options: a review. Aquat Bot 89:237–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gopal B, Chauhan M (2006) Biodiversity and its conservation in the Sundarban Mangrove Ecosystem. Aquat Sci 68:338–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. GoQ (2009) South East Queensland Regional Plan 2009–2031. Government of Queensland—Department of Infrastructure and Planning, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  30. GoQ (2011a) Queensland Coastal Plan. Government of Queensland—Department of Environment and Resource Management, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  31. GoQ (2011b) Queensland Wetland buffer guideline. Government of Queensland—Department of environment and resource management, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  32. Hagger V, Fisher D, Schmidt S and Blomberg S (2012) Assessing the vulnerability of an assemblage of subtropical rainforest vertebrate species to climate change in south-east Queensland. Aust Ecol.
  33. Heller NE, Zavaleta ES (2009) Biodiversity management in the face of climate change: a review of 22 years of recommendations. Biol Conserv 142:14–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hughes L (2011) Climate change and Australia: key vulnerable regions. Reg Environ Change 11:189–195Google Scholar
  35. Hutley LB, Doley D, Yates DJ, Boonsaner A (1997) Water balance of an Australian subtropical rainforest at altitude: the ecological and physiological significance of intercepted cloud and fog. Aust J Bot 45(2):311–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hyslop K, Hulm C (2003) Southeast Queensland Rainforest recovery plan (2003–2008). SEQ Rainforest Recovery Team, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  37. IPCC (2007). Climate change 2007: Synthesis report. contribution of working groups I, II and III to the Fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. In: Pachauri RK and Reisinger A (eds) IPCC, Geneva, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  38. Jäger J, Moll P (2011) Adaptation to climate change: tools and methods. Reg Environ Change 11(2):213–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kark S, Levin N, Grantham HS, Possingham HP (2009) Between-country collaboration and consideration of costs increase conservation planning efficiency in the Mediterranean Basin. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106(36):15368–15373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Keppel G, Van Niel KP, Wardell-Johnson GW, Yates CJ, Byrne M, Mucina L, Schut AGT, Hopper SD, Franklin SE (2012) Refugia: identifying and understanding safe havens for biodiversity under climate change. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 21:393–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kirwan ML, Murray AB (2007) A coupled geomorphic and ecological model of tidal marsh evolution. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 104:6118–6122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kitching RL, Putland DA, Ashton LA, Laidlaw MJ, Boulter SL, Christensen H, Lambkin CL (2011) Detecting biodiversity changes along climatic gradients: the IBISCA-Queensland project. Memoirs Qld Mus 55:235–250Google Scholar
  43. Krauss K, Lovelock CE, McKee KL, Lopez-Hoffman EML, Sousa WP (2008) Environmental drivers in mangrove establishment and early development. Aquat Bot 88:105–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Krosby M, Tewksbury J, Haddad NM, Hoekstra J (2010) Ecological connectivity for a changing climate. Conserv Biol 24(6):1686–1689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Laidlaw MJ, McDonald WJF, Hunter RJ, Kitching RL (2011a) Subtropical rainforest turnover along an altitudinal gradient. Memoirs Qld Mus 52:271–290Google Scholar
  46. Laidlaw MJ, McDonald WJF, Hunter RJ, Putland DA, Kitching RL (2011b) The potential impacts of climate change on Australian subtropical rainforest. Aust J Bot 59(5):440–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Laurance WF, Dell B, Turton SM, Lawes MJ, Hutley LB, McCallum H, Dale P, Bird M, Hardy G, Prideaux G, Gawne B, McMahon CR, Yu R, Hero J-M, Schwarzkopf L, Krockenberger A, Douglas M, Silvester E, Mahony M, Vella K, Saikia U, Wahren C-H, Xu Z, Smith B, Cocklin C (2011) The 10 Australian ecosystems most vulnerable to tipping points. Biol Conserv 144(5):1472–1480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Lovelock CE, Ellison JC (2007) Vulnerability of mangroves and tidal wetlands of the Great Barrier Reef to climate change. Climate change and the Great Barrier Reef, A vulnerability assessment, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Greenhouse Office, Australia, pp 237–269Google Scholar
  49. Lovelock C, Bennion V, Grinham A, Cahoon D (2011) The role of surface and subsurface processes in keeping pace with sea level rise in intertidal wetlands of Moreton Bay, Queensland. Ecosystems 14:745–757CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Low T (2011) Climate Change and Terrestrial Biodiversity in Queensland. Department of Environment and Resource Management, Queensland Government, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  51. Manson FJ, Loneragan NR, Skilleter GA, Phinn SR (2005) An evaluation of the evidence for linkages between mangroves and fisheries: a synthesis of the literature and identification of research directions. Oceanogr Mar Biol—an Annu Rev 43:483–513Google Scholar
  52. McDonald WJF, Young PAR, Watson MA (1999). Distribution and status of the rainforest communities of south-east Queensland. Rainforest recovery for the new millenium. Proceedings of the World Wide Fund for nature 1998 South-East Queensland rainforest recovery conference. WWF, Sydney. B. Boyes: 28–46Google Scholar
  53. McKee KL, Cahoon DL, Feller IC (2007) Caribbean mangroves adjust to rising sea level through biotic controls on change in soil elevation. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 16:545–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mcleod E, Chmura G, Bouillon S, Salm R, Bjork M, Duarte C, Lovelock C, Schlesinger W, Silliman B (2011) A Blueprint for Blue Carbon: towards an improved understanding of the role of vegetated coastal habitats in sequestering CO2. Front Ecol Environ 9:552–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Meynecke JO, Lee SY, Duke NC (2008) Linking spatial metrics and fish catch reveals the importance of coastal wetland connectivity to inshore fisheries in Queensland, Australia. Biol Conserv 141:981–996CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (eds) (2000) Wetlands. Hoboken. Wiley, New Jersey USAGoogle Scholar
  57. Moilanen A, Kujala H, Leathwick JR (2009) The Zonation framework and software for conservation prioritization. In: Moilanen A, Wilson KA, Possingham HP (eds) Spatial conservation prioritization quantitative methods and conceptual tools. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp 196–210Google Scholar
  58. Moritz C, Richardson KS, Ferrier S, Monteith GB, Stanisic J, Williams SE, Whiffin T (2001) Biogeographical concordance and efficiency of taxon indicators for establishing conservation priority in a tropical rainforest biota. Proc R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 268(1479):1875–1881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nakicenovic N, Swart R (2000) Special report on emissions scenarios. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  60. Patwardhan A, Downing T, Leary N, Wilbanks T (2009) Towards an integrated agenda for adaptation research: theory, practice and policy: strategy paper. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 1(2):219–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Polidoro BA, Carpenter KE, Collins L, Duke NC, Ellison AM, Ellison JC, Farnsworth EJ, Fernando ES, Kathiresan K, Koedam NE, Livingstone SR, Miyagi T, Moore GE, Ngoc Nam V, Ong JE, Primavera JH, Salmo SG III, Sanciangco JC, Sukardjo S, Wang Y, Yong JWH (2010) The loss of species: mangrove extinction risk and geographic areas of global concern. PLoS ONE 5(4):e10095CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Possingham HP, Ball IR, Andelman S (2000) Mathematical methods for identifying representative reserve networks. Springer, Quantitative Methods for Conservation Biology. S. Ferson and M. Burgman. New York, pp 291–305Google Scholar
  63. Powell M, Accad A, Shapcott A (2005) Geographic information system (GIS) predictions of past, present habitat distribution and areas for re-introduction of the endangered subtropical rainforest shrub Triunia robusta (Proteaceae) from south-east Queensland Australia. Biol Conserv 123(2):165–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Queensland Herbarium (2001) Coastal wetlands of South East Queensland. Mapping and Survey volume 1. Government of QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  65. Ramsar Convention Secretariat (2011) The Ramsar convention manual: a guide to the convention on wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971), 5th edn. Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Gland, SwitzerlandGoogle Scholar
  66. Rogers K, Saintilan N, Heijnis H (2005) Mangrove encroachment of salt marsh in Western Port Bay, Victoria, the role of sedimentation, subsidence, and sea level rise. Estuaries 28:551–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Runting RK, Wilson KA and Rhodes JR (in press). Does more mean less? The value of information for conservation planning under sea level rise. Glob Change BiolGoogle Scholar
  68. Saintilan N, Williams RJ (1999) Mangrove transgression into saltmarsh environments in south-east Australia. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 8:117–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. SCC (2010) Sunshine Coast Biodiversity Strategy 2010–2020. Sunshine Coast Council, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  70. Shapcott A, Powell M (2011) Demographic structure, genetic diversity and habitat distribution of the endangered, Australian rainforest tree Macadamia jansenii help facilitate an introduction program. Aust J Bot 59(3):215–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Shoo LP, Scarth P,Schmidt S, Wilson KA (in press). Reclaiming degraded rainforest: what can we expect?. Restor EcolGoogle Scholar
  72. Shoo LP, Williams SE, Hero J-M (2006) Detecting climate change induced range shifts: where and how should we be looking? Austral Ecol 31:22–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Thach LB, Shapcott A, Schmidt S, Critchley C (2007) The OJIP fast fluorescence rise characterizes Graptophyllum species and their stress responses. Photosynth Res 94(2):423–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Traill LW, Perhans K, Lovelock CE, Prohaska A, McFallan S, Rhodes JR, Wilson KA (2011) Managing for change: wetland transitions under sea-level rise and outcomes for threatened species. Divers Distrib 17:1225–1233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Walther G-R, Hughes L, Vitousek P, Stenseth NC (2005) Consensus on climate change. Trends Ecol Evol 20(12):648–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wark T, Wen H, Corke P, Hodge J, Keto A, Mackey B, Foley G, Sikka P and Brunig M (2008). Springbrook: challenges in developing a long-term, rainforest wireless sensor network. International Conference on intelligent sensors, sensor networks and information processing, 2008. ISSNIP 2008Google Scholar
  77. Weber LC (2011). Plant Endemism, Climatic Refugia and Climate Change in Rainforests of Subtropical Australia, Honours Thesis BSci, The University of Queensland, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  78. Welch D (2011). Growth and physiological responses of subtropical Rainforest species to a heat stress event, honours Thesis BEnvSci, The University of Queensland, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  79. Williams KJ, Ford A, Rosauer DF, De Silva N, Mittermeier RA, Bruce C, Larsen FW, Margules C (2011) Forests of east Australia: the 35th biodiversity hotspot. In: Zachos FE and Habel JC (eds) Biodiversity hotspots: distribution and protection of conservation priority areas. Springer, London, pp 295–310Google Scholar
  80. Wilson HB, Kendall BE, Fuller RA, Milton DA, Possingham HP (2011) Analyzing variability and the rate of decline of migratory shorebirds in Moreton Bay, Australia. Conserv Biol 25(4):758–766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Woodroffe CD (1995) Response of tide-dominated mangrove shorelines in northern Australia to anticipated sea-level rise. Earth Surf Proc Land 20:65–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Keys NM, Bussey DC, Thomsen T, Lynam and Smith TF (this issue). Building adaptive capacity in south east Queensland, Australia. Reg Env ChangeGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luke P. Shoo
    • 1
  • Julian O’Mara
    • 1
  • Karin Perhans
    • 1
  • Jonathan R. Rhodes
    • 2
  • Rebecca K. Runting
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susanne Schmidt
    • 3
  • Lochran W. Traill
    • 1
  • Lui C. Weber
    • 1
  • Kerrie A. Wilson
    • 1
  • Catherine E. Lovelock
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Geography, Planning and Environmental ManagementThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Agriculture and Food ScienceThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

Personalised recommendations