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Science10 Marine Ecosystems in W.A.: Home


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Western Australia's Marine Environments - A Voyage of Discovery 

From the depths of Ningaloo Marine Park to the remarkable and little known fringing reefs of the Kimberley Browse Marine Region; from the discovery of coral spawning to new species which hold potential cures for illnesses - marine scientists share their passion for the ocean and their quest to understand its secrets.

SOURCE: ClickView, Western Australia's Marine Environments - A Voyage of Discovery (2012) Rating: E, Duration: 34:23,    URL:

TASK 2: What do I need to know?

Use the key words highlighted below to create headings for your research notes, whether you choose to create notes by hand or digitally.

  • Where is your ecosystem found in Western Australia?
    • What conditions are required for this ecosystem to exist?
    • Give specific examples of where they are found around Western Australia.
  • What are the unique characteristics of your ecosystem?
    • What are the distinguishing biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) features?
  • What WHICH organisms are found there? (Include 3 examples)
    • Name of species  
    • How are each of these species well adapted to living here?
    • Identify any adaptations (structural/physiological/behavioural) which make them well-suited to this environment.
  • Give an example of a food chain or web found in this ecosystem.
    • Identify the producers in the ecosystem
    • Identify the consumers in the ecosystem
  • Identify any threats which are or may affect this marine ecosystem.
    • How are these threats being managed?



Click on the map below to go to the site. Each numbered ecosystem has a summary brief on the habitat.

Western Australia’s nature parks draw many visitors each year. Among the most prominent parks are Rudall River National Park near the southwestern edge of the Great Sandy Desert, and Ningaloo Marine Park (including Ningaloo Reef), just off the coast to the west of the Cape Range. Shark Bay (1991), south of Carnarvon, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1990 in recognition of its unique combination of extensive beds of seagrass, a dugong breeding ground, and living stromatolite formations; Purnululu National Park, on the eastern edge of the Kimberley region, was added to the World Heritage list in 2003 for its unique natural towers of sandstone.


Task 2: Marine Ecosystems Extended Response

You will research and become an expert on one of Western Australia’s main marine ecosystems: 

  • sea grass meadows
  • reefs 
  • deep seas (> 400 m)
  • estuaries
  • mangroves

Assignment Documents:

Search Terms

  • Ecosystems
  • Ecosystems -- Western Australia
  • Marine habitats; 
  • Mangroves: use "Mangrove swamps"
  • Seagrasses: use "Marine plants," "Water Plants"

Vocabulary and Definitions

Abiotic factors: non-living characteristics of a habitat or ecosystem that affect organisms' life processes.

Adaptation: a genetically-based body feature or behavior that allows an organism to be better suited to its environment.

Anadromous: fish that live their adult lives in the ocean but move into freshwater streams to reproduce or spawn (for example: salmon).

Autotrophs: an organism that makes its own food from light energy or chemical energy without eating. Most green plants, many protists and most bacteria are autotrophs. Autotrophs are the base of the food chain and can also be called producers.

Benthos: bottom-dwelling flora and fauna; from tiniest microbenthos (bacteria) to medium-sized meiobenthos (nematode worms) to the highly visible macrobenthos (clams, polychaete worms).

Brackish: slightly salty water with a salinity between 0.5 ppt and 32 ppt.

Biotic factors: relationships among organisms that affect their survival.

Commensalism: form of relationship in which one species gains from the interaction and the other is neither positively nor negatively affected.

Consumer: individual that eats other organisms to obtain energy rather than producing its food through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.

Decomposer: an organism that feeds on and breaks down dead plant or animal matter, thus making organic nutrients available to the ecosystem.

Diel: the daily cycle; a 24-hour period.

Groundwater: water contained below ground in soil and rock.

High marsh: the area of the marsh flooded infrequently by the high tides associated with new and full moon.

Hypoxia (hypoxic): very low oxygen levels.

Intertidal: estuary habitat flooded by high tide waters only.

Marshes: soft wet land usually characterized by grasses.

Migration (migratory): the movement of living organisms from one biome to another, commonly with changing seasons.

Mobile epibenthos: bottom-dwelling animals that move on top of sediments: crabs, shrimp, snails, amphipods, isopods.

Mudflat: part of benthic (bottom) zone exposed at low tide and comprised of extremely fine sediments.

Mutualism: form of relationship in which both species involved gain from the interaction (example: lichen).