The Frequently Asked Questions provide information about the Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Ecosystem Classification scheme (the scheme) conducted by the Queensland Wetlands Program. It provides detail on the classification underpinning the mapping, the relationship between this mapping and other mapping in Queensland and how to use the mapping.
Why is intertidal and subtidal mapping important, and how does it relate to other mapping and classifications?
Understanding the nature, extent and values of ecosystems is integral to their effective management. Terrestrial and freshwater ecosystem classification, mapping and conservation assessments provide a basis for management and planning in Queensland. The Central Queensland intertidal and subtidal mapping was undertaken to address the lack of integrated mapping for Queensland’s intertidal and subtidal ecosystems.
The mapping applies the attribute-based classification and typology method of the Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Ecosystem Classification scheme (the scheme). It integrates seamlessly with other attribute-based classifications and mapping methods (e.g. Regional Ecosystems, Queensland Wetland mapping) to enable continuous mapping from land to sea. The intertidal and subtidal mapping (explained in Module 4) will inform these complementary attribute-based mapping datasets and their classifications, providing additional biophysical attribute datasets that will inform the nature and extent of these ecosystems in areas of overlapping land, sea and freshwater influence. The relationship between this scheme and other classification schemes is reviewed in Module 2 (literature review Queensland, interstate, national and international).
How is the Central Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Mapping produced?
It is very difficult to manage a resource without knowing ‘what is where’. This mapping and the associated datasets provide valuable non-statutory information about the spatial extent of intertidal and subtidal ecosystems (resources) in Central Queensland, and the products of this project can be used to:
provide a primary tool and framework to support policy development
guide prioritisation and on-ground works investment in natural resource management
inform the tracking of changes in ecosystem extent and type and inform the design of monitoring programs (e.g. for water quality and habitat condition report cards)
prioritise knowledge gaps for inventory and data acquisition
assess values and processes, including ecosystem services and values, representation for fish habitat areas and marine park zonings
assess connectivity and interactions between ecosystem types and processes
form a base to predict species presence/absence based upon ecosystem types (e.g. Great Barrier Reef (GBR), Ramsar)
develop management guidelines for intertidal and subtidal ecosystems based upon key characteristics
inform resource utilisation, regulation, management and offsets
enable integrated planning and policy for intertidal and subtidal ecosystems across agencies and jurisdictions
inform identification of Matters of National and State Environmental Significance (MNES, MSES) (including Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage areas and criteria under Ramsar)
assist with the assessment of climate change impacts
assist with development assessments, other management decisions (e.g. Environmental Impact Assessments, coastal approvals) and frontline services.
What is the difference between intertidal and subtidal ecosystems, and are they the same as estuarine and marine ecosystems?
What is the difference between existing estuarine wetland mapping and the intertidal and subtidal mapping?
The existing mapping for estuarine wetlands has been incorporated into the intertidal and subtidal mapping by ‘cross-walking’ its attributes to those of the Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Ecosystem Classification scheme. Estuarine wetland regional ecosystems are ‘cross-walked’ to equivalent categories of the structural macrobiota biophysical attribute. Existing wetland estuarine water bodies (contain no ecosystem information) are now delineated based on other attributes, including the presence of surveyed subtidal biota such as seagrass, coral etc. For further information see the Classification and Mapping Method factsheet and Module 4.
How are the intertidal and subtidal ecosystem types ordered and why?
Does the mapping contain information about intertidal and subtidal ecosystem condition?
Ecosystem condition is not dealt with in the classification scheme and mapping but some attributes and qualifiers may be useful as an input to condition assessments. Attribute qualifiers provide extra information on the category of an attribute and are similar to modifiers in other classification schemes. Changes in ecosystems may represent natural variations while at other times a change may constitute a shift in the state or type for an ecosystem. In classifying and mapping, consideration must be given to how the natural variability influences ecosystem structure and functionality of ecosystem processes and what can be used meaningfully in mapping. If possible the nature of these changes and their influence upon an attribute is captured.
In the Central Queensland mapping there is additional information informing such changes in the attribute mapping (see the Naturalness qualifier field). The ‘naturalness’ attribute qualifier describes the extent of human-induced change. For example, in an area, the attribute Sediment texture may have been classified as 'sand'. If the sand was the result of deposition from dredging activity, a category of ‘Modified’ could be assigned to the naturalness attribute qualifier. In this way, the inherent category of the attribute does not change from 'sand' but the additional information may be used to interpret values or to classify components differently, which may be necessary for management purposes.
What datasets were used in developing the intertidal and subtidal mapping and how was the information collated?
What is a biophysical attribute and what role does it play in defining intertidal and subtidal ecosystem types?
Biophysical attributes can be used to create an attribute classification, that is, a set of biophysical (biological, physical and chemical) attributes for describing and defining ecosystem types using discrete categories with measurable classes (e.g. metrics). The step of attribute-based classification separates the classification of attributes (e.g. depth, sediment size) from the designation of types (i.e. combinations of attributes such as deep water sand) for a particular purpose (e.g. deep water fisheries management). Examples of intertidal and subtidal attributes can be found on the attributes and qualifiers page.
Where can I find the Central Queensland intertidal and subtidal mapping method?
How was the method developed and how does it compare to other methods?
A comprehensive collaboration and consultation process was undertaken to inform the development of the scheme, including 17 workshops, panels and technical working group meetings, two advisory group meetings and numerous one-on-one meetings. This process involved policy makers, managers and scientists from state, local and federal government, natural resource management bodies and universities, with individuals from a wide range of disciplines. More than 120 representatives from over 30 organisations were involved from 2014 to 2017 (see Module 1 Appendix 6.7 for consultation details). A comprehensive literature review (Module 2) describes how the method compares with other methods. This literature review informed the collaboration and consultation process involving the selection of attributes and categories (see Module 1 Appendices 6.1, 6.2) and the development of draft typologies. Module 3 outlines the attributes and Module 4 describes the mapping method.
What geographic area does the Central Queensland intertidal and subtidal mapping cover?
The intertidal and subtidal mapping covers benthic (sea floor) ecosystems within the southern Great Barrier Reef lagoon (from the mouth of the Fitzroy River to Double Island Point south of Fraser Island). It extends from the landward limits of tidal influence to the three nautical mile limit that is the boundary of Queensland state waters. For further information see the Project Factsheet or WetlandMaps.
What information does the Intertidal and Subtidal Ecosystem Mapping for Central Queensland contain and what do the codes mean?
^ Cowardin, LM, Carter, FC & LaRoe, ET (1979), 'Classification of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States.', Fish an dWildlif Service, vol. FWS/OBS-79131, Fish and Wildlife Services, Washington, DC.
^ Done, TJ (1999), 'Coral community adaptability to environmental change at the scales of regions, reefs and reef zones', American Zoologist, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 66-79, The Oxford University Press.
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Intertidal and subtidal mapping FAQs, WetlandInfo website, accessed 27 October 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/intertidal-subtidal-background/faqs/