Advertisement

Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1143–1156 | Cite as

Working with land and sea rangers to tackle tropical wetland restoration and conservation on the north-western islands, Torres Straits, Australia

  • N. J. WalthamEmail author
  • J. Schaffer
  • J. Buist
  • M. Geyle
  • D. Toby
Original Paper

Abstract

Importance of community stakeholder participation in coastal freshwater and tidal wetland monitoring and restoration has become increasingly recognised. In Australia, Land and Sea Rangers (LSR) are appointed land and sea custodians from local indigenous communities and under guidance of experts learn a range of scientifically relevant and rigorous sampling techniques to protect and conserve Country. Scientific training to build LSR confidence to tackle restoration and conservation of sensitive and culturally important wetlands is shown here. Between May 2014 and May 2015 three training campaigns were completed where LSR on Boigu and Saibai Islands (the most northern islands in the Torres Straits, Australia), completed water quality and wetland flora/fauna surveys across both islands. Forty wetland fauna species were documented (with a similar wetland assemblage on each ANOSIM P > 0.4) comprising 35 fish species (including the invasive freshwater climbing perch, Anabas testudineus), two crustaceans, a freshwater turtle (Chelodina oblonga) (a relic freshwater species after the last sea level rise approximately 6,000 years ago in the region), and two mangrove snakes (Myron richardsoni and Fordonia leucobalia) (both snake records represent a range extension). This data was presented at community workshops with the purpose to build LSR confidence, and with the community, develop a plan to conserve wetland cultural and environmental values. Five thematic wetland conservation themes were identified which resulted in agreeing to management actions necessary on both islands. Since the inception of this program in 2014, additional LSR restoration and monitoring programs have extended to wetlands on other islands in the Torres Straits. We advocate the need for more remote area wetland monitoring and management programs facilitated through LSR programs.

Keywords

Invasive fish Climate change Mangroves Island ecology Freshwater wetlands Saltmarsh 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge and thank the Malu Ki’ai and Saibai Mura Buway RNTB Corporations for permission to access their land to carry out the training and surveys. The support of the Boigu, and Saibai TSIRC is also acknowledged, as is the valuable assistance provided by the Torres Straits Regional Authority staff. Funding was provided by Queensland Government and the Australian Government. We also thank Queensland Government for wetland mapping data, and Prof Burrows (TropWATER) for technical support and guidance. Thanks to Tom Parkin and Luke Allen for providing information in relation to freshwater turtles on Saibai Island. Additional thanks to Jodi Rowley at the Australian Museum for providing collections access and aiding in the identification of Myron richardsoni.

References

  1. Barbier EB, Hacker SD, Kennedy C, Koch EW, Stier AC, Silliman BR (2011) The value of estuarine and coastal ecosystem services. Ecol Monogr 81:169–193.  https://doi.org/10.1890/10-1510.1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bohensky EL, Maru Y (2011) Indigenous knowledge, science, and resilience: what have we learned from a decade of international literature on “integration”. Ecol Soc 16:6.  https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-04342-160406 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burkett V, Davidson M (2012) Coastal impacts, adaptation and vulnerability: a technical input to the National Climate Assessment: Cooperative Report to the 2013 National Climate Assessment, p 150Google Scholar
  4. Butler B, Burrows DW (2007) Dissolved oxygen guidelines for freshwater habitats of northern Australia (Report 07/31). Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research, James Cook University, QueenslandGoogle Scholar
  5. Chotipuntu P, Avakul P (2010) Aquaculture potential of climbing perch, Anabas testudineus, in brackish water. Walailak J Sci Technol 7:15–21Google Scholar
  6. Clarke KR, Gorley RN (2006) PRIMER v6: User manual/tutorial. PRIMER-E, PlymouthGoogle Scholar
  7. Davenport J, Matin AKM (1990) Terrestrial locomotion in the climbing perch, Anabas testudineus (Bloch) (Anabantidea, Pisces). J Fish Biol 37:175–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dobbs RJ, Davies CL, Walker ML, Pettit NE, Pusey BJ, Close PG, Akune Y, Walsham N, Smith B, Wiggan A, Davies PM (2016) Collaborative research partnerships inform monitoring and management of aquatic ecosystems by Indigenous rangers. Rev Fish Biol Fish.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.11.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dubuc A, Waltham NJ, Malerba M, Sheaves M (2017) Extreme dissolved oxygen variability in urbanised tropical wetlands: the need for detailed monitoring to protect nursery ground values. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 198:163–171.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2017.09.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duce SJ, Parnell KE, Smithers SG, McNamara KE (2010) A synthesis of climate change and coastal science to support adaptation in the communities of Torres Strait. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, CairnsGoogle Scholar
  11. Duke NC, Burrows D, Mackenzie JR (2015) Mangrove and freshwater wetland habitat status of the Torres Strait Islands. biodiversity, biomass and changing condition of wetlands. Report to the National Environmental Research Program. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns (pp 117)Google Scholar
  12. Ens EJ, Pert P, Clarke PA, Budden M, Clubb L, Doran B, Douras C, Gaikwad J, Gott B, Leonard S, Locke J (2015) Indigenous biocultural knowledge in ecosystem science and management: review and insight from Australia. Biol Conser 181:133–149.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2014.11.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ens EJ, Daniels C, Nelson E, Roy J, Dixon P (2016) Creating multi-functional landscapes: using exclusion fences to frame feral ungulate management preferences in remote Aboriginal-owned northern Australia. Biol Conser 197:235–246.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2016.03.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fordham DA, Georges A, Brook BW (2007) Demographic response of snake necked turtles correlates with indigenous harvest and feral pig predation in tropical northern Australia. J Anim Ecol 76:1231–1243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gerke P, Figa B, Murphy NS (2010) PNG Invasive fish scoping study. SMEC final report, pp 30Google Scholar
  16. Gosling A, Shackleton CM, Gambiza J (2017) Community-based natural resource use and management of Bigodi Wetland Sanctuary, Uganda, for livelihood benefits. Wetl Ecol Manag 25:717–730CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Grice AC, Cassady J, Nicholas DM (2012) Indigenous and nonIndigenous knowledge and values combine to support management of Nywaigi lands in the Queensland coastal tropics. Ecol Manag Rest 13:93–97.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1442-8903.2011.00621.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gyi KK (1970) A revision of colubrid snakes of the subfamily Homalopsinae. University of Kansas, Museum Natural History, LawrenceGoogle Scholar
  19. Hamann M, Schauble CS, Limpus DJ, Emerick SP, Limpus CJ (2007) Management plan for the conservation of Elseya sp. Burnett River in the Burnett River catchment. Queensland Government Environment Protection Agency, BrisbaneGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill R, Grant C, George M, Robinson CJ, Jackson S, Abel N (2012) A typology of indigenous engagement in Australian environmental management: implications for knowledge integration and social-ecological system sustainability. Ecol Soc 17:1–17.  https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-04587-170123 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hitchcock G (2008) Climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) (Perciformes: Anabantidae) on Saibai Island, northwest Torres Strait: first Australian record of this exotic pest fish. Mem Qld Mus 52:207–211Google Scholar
  22. Hitchcock G, Finn MA, Burrows D, Johnson J (2012) Fishes from fresh and brackish waters of inland in Torres Strait, far north Queensland. Mem Qld Mus 56:13–24Google Scholar
  23. Jackson SE, Douglas M (2015) Indigenous engagement in tropical river research in Australia: the TRaCK program. Int Indig Pol J 6:1–23.  https://doi.org/10.18584/iipj.2015.6.2.3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Jenni K, Graves D, Hardiman J, Hatten J, Mastin M, Mesa M, Montag J, Nieman T, Voss F, Maule A (2014) Identifying stakeholder-relevant climate change impacts: a case study in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA. Clim Change 124:371–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Junk WJ, An S, Finlayson CM, Gopal B, Květ J, Mitchel SA, Mitsch WJ, Robarts RD (2013) Current state of knowledge regarding the world’s wetlands and their future under global climate change: a synthesis. Aquat Sci 75:151–167.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00027-012-0278-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lavery TH, Watson JJ, Leung LKP (2012) Terrestrial vertebrate richness of the inhabited Torres Strait Islands Australia. Austr J Zoo 60:180–191.  https://doi.org/10.1071/zo12043 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. McCulloch M, Cappo M, Aumend J, Müller W (2005) Tracing the life history of individual barramundi using laser ablation MC-ICP-MS Sr-isotopic and Sr/Ba ratios in otoliths. Mar Freshw Res 56:637–644CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McNiven IJ, Hitchcock G (2004). Torres Strait Islander marine subsistence specialisation and terrestrial animal translocation [Paper in: Torres Strait archaeology and material culture. McNiven, Ian J. and Quinell, Michael (eds).]. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, Cultural Heritage Series 3(pt. 1):105Google Scholar
  29. Milton DA, Die D, Tenakanai C, Swales S (1998) Selectivity for barramundi (Lates calcarifer) in the Fly River, Papua New Guinea: implications for managing gill-net fisheries on protandrous fishes. Mar Freshw Res 49:499–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Moritz C, Ens EJ, Potter S, Catullo RA (2013) The Australian monsoonal tropics: an opportunity to protect unique biodiversity and secure benefits for Aboriginal communities. Pac Conserv Biol 19:343–355.  https://doi.org/10.1071/PC130343 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Murphy JC (2007) Homalopsid snakes: evolution in the mud. Kreiger Publishing Company, FL, pp 65–69Google Scholar
  32. Murphy JC, Voris HK (1994) A key to the homalopsine snakes. The Snake 26:123–133Google Scholar
  33. Parker F (1982) Snakes of Western Province. Wildlife in Papua New Guinea. Report No. 82/1. Division of Wildlife. Department of Lands & EnvironmentGoogle Scholar
  34. Pusey B, Kennard M, Arthington A (2004) Freshwater fishes of north-eastern Australia. CSIRO Publishing, CanberraGoogle Scholar
  35. Rogers K, Saintilan N, Copeland C (2012) Modelling wetland surface elevation dynamics and its application to forecasting the effects of sea-level rise on estuarine wetlands. Ecol Model 244:148–157.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.06.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sheaves M, Johnston R, Connolly RM (2010) Temporal dynamics of fish assemblages of natural and artificial tropical estuaries. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 410:143–157.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-012-9270-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shultis J, Heffner S (2016) Hegemonic and emerging concepts of conservation: a critical examination of barriers to incorporating Indigenous perspectives in protected area conservation policies and practice. J Sustain Tour.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2016.1158827 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Spalding MD, Fox HE, Allen GR, Davidson N, Ferdana ZA, Finlayson M, Halpern BS, Jorge MA, Lombana A, Lourie SA, Martin KD (2007) Marine ecoregions of the world: a bioregionalization of coastal and shelf areas. Bioscience 57:573–583CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Storey AW, Roderick ID, Smith REW, Maie AY (2002) Spread of the introduced climbing perch (Anabas testudineus) in the Fly River system, Papua New Guinea, with comments on possible ecological effects. Int J Ecol Environ Sci 28:103–114Google Scholar
  40. Waltham NJ, Fixler S (2017) Aerial herbicide spray to control invasive water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes): water quality concerns fronting fish occupying a tropical floodplain wetland. Trop Conserv Sci 10:1–10.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1940082917741592 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Waltham NJ, Schaffer J (2015) Baseline aquatic assessment of wetlands identified for feral pig fence exclusion, Archer River catchment’, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER) Report 15/41. James Cook University, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  42. Waltham NJ, Schaffer JR (2018) Thermal and asphyxia exposure risk to freshwater fish in feral pig damaged tropical wetlands. J Fish Biol.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.13742 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Waltham NJ, Sheaves M (2015) Expanding coastal urban and industrial seascape in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: critical need for coordinated planning and policy. Mar Pol 57:78–84.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2015.03.030 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Waltham N, Burrows D, Butler B, Wallace J, Thomas C, James C, Brodie J (2013) Waterhole ecology in the Flinders and Gilbert catchments. A technical report to the Australian Government from the CSIRO Flinders and Gilbert Agricultural Resource Assessment, part of the North Queensland Irrigated Agriculture Strategy. CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country and Sustainable Agriculture flagships, Canberra, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  45. Waltham NJ, Burrows DW, Schaffer J (2014) Freshwater Pest Fish on Boigu, Saibai, Badu and Mabuiag Islands in the Torres Straits (June 2014 survey). Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), Report 14/41, James Cook University, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  46. Webb EL, Friess DA, Krauss KW, Cahoon DR, Guntenspergen GR, Phelps J (2013) A global standard for monitoring coastal wetland vulnerability to accelerated sea-level rise. Nat Clim Change 3:458–465.  https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate1756 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wegscheidl CJ, Sheaves M, McLeod IM, Hedge PT, Gillies CL, Creighton C (2017) Sustainable management of Australia’s coastal seascapes: a case for collecting and communicating quantitative evidence to inform decision-making. Wet Ecol Manag 25:3–22.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-016-9515-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weinstein MP, Litvin SY, Bosley KL, Fuller CM, Wainright SC (2000) The role of tidal salt marsh as an energy source for marine transient and resident finfishes: a stable isotope approach. Trans Am Fish Soc 129:797–810CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Whitfield AK, Elliott M (2002) Fishes as indicators of environmental and ecological changes within estuaries: a review of progress and some suggestions for the future. J Fish Biol 61:229–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Wolanski E, Lambrechts J, Thomas C, Deleersnijder E (2013) The net water circulation through Torres strait. Cont Shelf Res 64:66–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Woodroffe C, Kennedy D, Hopley D, Rasmussen C, Smithers S (2000) Holocene reef growth in Torres Strait. Mar Geol 170:331–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. J. Waltham
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Schaffer
    • 1
  • J. Buist
    • 2
  • M. Geyle
    • 2
  • D. Toby
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), Freshwater Ecology Research GroupJames Cook UniversityQueenslandAustralia
  2. 2.Land and Sea Management UnitTorres Straits Regional AuthorityThursday IslandAustralia

Personalised recommendations