While Australian seas contain a great richness of species, there's also a high proportion of endemic species. An understanding of diversity patterns in neighbouring waters is crucial to interpreting our biodiversity.

Australia manages the third largest marine jurisdiction of any country.

A camouflaged pygmy seahorse on knobbly coral

A well-hidden Pygmy Seahorse Hippocampus bargibanti on coral off Bootless Bay, Port Moresby  ©W.White

Our marine waters cover a greater area than our land. They extend from tropical to polar regions and are linked to three of the world’s largest ocean basins (the Indian, Southern and Pacific Oceans), which can exceed 5,000 metres in depth.

Australian seas contain both high species richness and high proportions of endemic species, so an understanding of diversity patterns in neighbouring waters is crucial to interpreting our own biodiversity.

Ongoing discovery

With an average of more than one new fish species being described every month and with large areas of our marine domain unexplored, there are many species of fish and other marine organisms yet to be discovered.

Understanding Australia’s fish fauna: the past, present and future

We are leading research to understand where Australian fishes occur and why they occur there (this is called biogeography) – from both a current and historic perspective.

Historical processes, such as continental drift and isolation, as well as recent events, processes and biological limitations contribute to where species occur today.

The geographic ranges of some species appear to have reduced due to human induced impacts such as fishing, while other species have undergone recent range extension following increasing water temperatures as a result of climate change.

Data from research collections can help understand where species occurred prior to recent environmental change, and assist with measuring levels of change and human impact.

Interested in helping us further this research?

We seek research collaborators with complementary skills so we can work together for stronger results.

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