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Intertidal and subtidal ecosystem types of Central Queensland

Intertidal and subtidal seascape level ecosystems are described in terms of the biological, physical and chemical factors (attributes) determining their nature and extent. These descriptions can be used on their own in the field, or to link to the mapping of Central Queensland ecosystem types.


Intertidal corals at Point Vernon, Hervey Bay. Photo by Maria Zann

Quick facts

Subtidal ecosystems
are permanently inundated by tides, and intertidal ecosystems are periodically inundated and exposed to the air

Purpose and uses of intertidal and subtidal ecosystem descriptions

Intertidal and subtidal seascape level ecosystem descriptions were devised to provide a better understanding of the biological, physical and chemical attributes (factors) that are determining the nature and extent of the seascape scale ecosystems of Central Queensland. The type descriptions can be used in many ways, as are their land-based equivalents, Regional Ecosystems.

The descriptions:

  • can be used to identify an ecosystem in the field and to recognise biological, physical and chemical components (attributes) determining its nature and extent
  • provide a framework on which to create conceptual or dynamic models of the processes which have originated them
  • are also companions to their mapped extent in WetlandMaps, providing detail to better understand the representation of the mapped ecosystem types.

The ecosystem types and associated mapping is non-statutory and available for a variety of uses. These include:

  • gaining an understanding of their value as fish habitat
  • understanding their representation in protected area management
  • marine park use designations
  • planning and assessment
  • informing management of ports, local government areas, internationally significant areas such as Ramsar (Great Sandy Strait) and World Heritage Areas (Fraser Island and the Great Barrier Reef).

How were the ecosystem types devised?

The ecosystem types were devised by expert panels of scientists, managers, consultants and those with local knowledge of the intertidal and subtidal ecosystems of Central Queensland, guided by the Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Ecosystem Classification scheme (detailed in Module 1 - Part 2). Initially the panels determined the scale and purpose of the classification, that is, a seascape classification for general management purposes. At the attribute classification stage they selected the attributes that best described the nature and extent of Central Queensland intertidal and subtidal ecosystems. At the typology stage they combined the attributes and their categories into a hierarchy of ecosystem types. These are the types detailed below, and mapped on WetlandMaps. For further detail see the Classification and Mapping Method Factsheet.

How are the ecosystem types described?

Descriptions are grouped by their major diagnostic attributes, and are pull-downs that can be opened and closed.

  • Intertidal or Subtidal (inundation). The first attribute that determines ecosystem types is Inundation i.e. whether they are periodically tidally inundated (intertidal), or always submerged (subtidal).
  • Hard (consolidated/intermediate) or Soft (unconsolidated) substrate. The next diagnostic attribute is Consolidation i.e. whether the ecosystem is on a hard (consolidated) substrate for the potential attachment of biota, or soft (unconsolidated) substrate.
  • Biota present or biota unsurveyed/unknown. Animals and plants that create three-dimensional structure that provides a living space for other biota are known as structural macrobiota. The third diagnostic attribute is Structural Macrobiota Composition (structural macrobiota). Presence or absence of structural macrobiota is based on the extent of known biotic surveys, so its apparent absence may be due to a lack of survey rather than actual absence.

The other diagnostic attributes for particular ecosystem types (Benthic depth, Sediment texture, Substrate composition, Energy magnitude and Terrain morphology) are detailed in their relevant type descriptions.

Explore and search ecosystem types

Use the search box and collapsible categories below to explore the ecosystem type descriptions:

Quick links

Last updated: 29 May 2019

This page should be cited as:

Intertidal and subtidal ecosystem types of Central Queensland, WetlandInfo 2018, Department of Environment and Science, Queensland, viewed 6 August 2019, <>.

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science