Concept: Rottnest Island
Boating activities are one of the causes that threaten seagrass meadows and the ecosystem services they provide. Mechanical destruction of seagrass habitats may also trigger the erosion of sedimentary organic carbon (Corg) stocks, which may contribute to increasing atmospheric CO2. This study presents the first estimates of loss of Corg stocks in seagrass meadows due to mooring activities in Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Sediment cores were sampled from seagrass meadows and from bare but previously vegetated sediments underneath moorings. The Corg stores have been compromised by the mooring deployment from 1930s onwards, which involved both the erosion of existing sedimentary Corg stores and the lack of further accumulation of Corg. On average, undisturbed meadows had accumulated ~6.4 Kg Corg m(-2) in the upper 50 cm-thick deposits at a rate of 34 g Corg m(-2) yr(-1). The comparison of Corg stores between meadows and mooring scars allows us to estimate a loss of 4.8 kg Corg m(-2) in the 50 cm-thick deposits accumulated over ca. 200 yr as a result of mooring deployments. These results provide key data for the implementation of Corg storage credit offset policies to avoid the conversion of seagrass ecosystems and contribute to their preservation.
The quokka, Setonix brachyurus, is a vulnerable, small marsupial endemic to Western Australia. Blood samples were collected from quokkas from three different geographical locations; Two Peoples Bay, Bald Island and Rottnest Island. The overall prevalence of trypanosomes by nested PCR at the 18S ribosomal RNA gene was 57.3% (63/110) with prevalences of 91.4%, 85.3% and 4.9% respectively for Two Peoples Bay, Bald Island and Rottnest Island. Phylogenetic analysis conducted on 47 18S PCR positives identified two T. copemani genotypes, with T. copemani genotype B, the most prevalent genotype infecting quokka populations from the three locations with an overall prevalence of 51.8% (24/47) compared to 34% for T. copemani genotype A (16/47). The overall prevalence of mixed T. copemani genotype A and B infections was 14.9% (7/47). Phylogenetic analysis of 26 quokka isolates at the glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) locus, largely supported the 18S analysis but identified a mixed infection in one quokka isolate (Q4112- 4117 from Two Peoples Bay). Trypanosoma copemani genotype B has previously only been isolated from quokkas and the Gilbert’s potoroo whereas T. copemani genotype A has a wide host range and may be pathogenic. Further work is required to determine the clinical impact of T. copemani on marsupial populations.
Rottnest Island, Western Australia, receives >500,000visitorsy(-1), who are mainly attracted by the Island’s natural values. Marine debris is a threat to both these natural values and to Island wildlife, and is consequently an important issue for managers. Engaging with volunteers, we quantified marine debris at 16 beach sites around the Island. The highest loads occurred on the SW coast and primarily comprised items originating from fishing activities. Sites on the NE coast, where >95% of the Island’s accommodation is located, supported the highest abundance of items deposited in situ (e.g. bottles and cigarette butts). We conclude that marine debris management may require a range of strategies to address the different primary sources. Raising awareness through education and intervention may be highly effective at popular beaches on the NE coast, but broader liaison with commercial and recreational fishers will be necessary to address the issue at the Island scale.
The identification and characterisation of novel Eimeria species has largely been based on sporulated oocyst and sporocyst morphology, the host species and the geographical range. Variation in the size and shape of Eimeria oocysts across their host range however, make the identification and characterisation of novel species using traditional methodologies alone problematic. The use of molecular markers and phylogenetic analysis has greatly advanced our ability to characterise Eimeria species and has recently been applied to understand evolutionary relationships among Eimeria species from Australian marsupials. In the present study, Eimeria species isolated from quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) captured from Two Peoples Bay, Bald Island and Rottnest Island, Western Australia, were morphologically identified as E. quokka and E. setonicis. Both Eimeria species were identified as being polymorphic in nature with regards to sporulated oocyst and sporocyst morphometrics. Phylogenetic analysis using 18S rRNA and COI (cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1) genes, grouped E. quokka and E. setonicis within the Eimeria marsupial clade together with Eimeria trichosuri from brushtail possums, E. macropodis from tammar wallabies (Macropus eugenii) and several unidentified macropod Eimeria species from western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus). This study is the first to characterise E. quokka and E. setonicis by molecular analysis, enabling more extensive resolution of evolutionary relationships among marsupial-derived Eimeria species.