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Marine biodiversity in the Australian region
Butler, A.J.; Rees, T.; Beesley, P.; Bax, N.J. (2010). Marine biodiversity in the Australian region. PLoS One 5(8): e11831. dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0011831
In: PLoS One. Public Library of Science: San Francisco. ISSN 1932-6203, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Butler, A.J.
  • Rees, T.
  • Beesley, P.
  • Bax, N.J.

Abstract
    The entire Australian marine jurisdictional area, including offshore and sub-Antarctic islands, is considered in this paper. Most records, however, come from the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) around the continent of Australia itself. The counts of species have been obtained from four primary databases (the Australian Faunal Directory, Codes for Australian Aquatic Biota, Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums, and the Australian node of the Ocean Biogeographic Information System), but even these are an underestimate of described species. In addition, some partially completed databases for particular taxonomic groups, and specialized databases (for introduced and threatened species) have been used. Experts also provided estimates of the number of known species not yet in the major databases. For only some groups could we obtain an (expert opinion) estimate of undiscovered species. The databases provide patchy information about endemism, levels of threat, and introductions. We conclude that there are about 33,000 marine species (mainly animals) in the major databases, of which 130 are introduced, 58 listed as threatened and an unknown percentage endemic. An estimated 17,000 more named species are either known from the Australian EEZ but not in the present databases, or potentially occur there. It is crudely estimated that there may be as many as 250,000 species (known and yet to be discovered) in the Australian EEZ. For 17 higher taxa, there is sufficient detail for subdivision by Large Marine Domains, for comparison with other National and Regional Implementation Committees of the Census of Marine Life. Taxonomic expertise in Australia is unevenly distributed across taxa, and declining. Comments are given briefly on biodiversity management measures in Australia, including but not limited to marine protected areas.

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