Cross-boundary detrital subsidies in a changing world
Melanie Bishop (Macquarie University) and Paul Lavery (Edith Cowan University)

Spatial subsidies are fundamental to the functioning of coastal ecosystems and, detritus, in numerous forms, is a key component of many of those subsidies.  Understanding how these subsidies occur, their significance and how human and natural processes might affect them is key to understanding and managing our coastal resources.  This symposium is designed to capture the breadth of research currently being undertaken into the mechanisms and significance of detrital subsidies, in all their various forms.

The symposium will take into consideration wrack as well as other forms of detrital material.  It will address all aspects of the ‘lifecycle of detritus’ from its production, physical transport among habitats, its biogeochemical transformations and ultimate fate.  It will consider food web and biodiversity implications resulting from the subsidies, as well as the management issues that accumulations and movement of detritus pose for coastal managers.  In doing so, it will bring together researchers from across the spectrum of detrital subsidy research being undertaken in Australia and explore its implications for coastal ecology and management.

The convergence of several factors makes this an opportune time for AMSA to focus on detrital subsidies.  Ongoing concentration of residential urban growth in the coastal zone continues to put pressure on those ecosystems providing much of the material that fuels detrital subsidies.  This pressure has recently been compounded by the massive expansion of industrial and port facilities, all of which are capable of interfering with the production and transport of detritus, either through direct footprints or indirect impacts on the production and transport of detritus.  At much larger scales, climate change and ocean acidification have the potential to affect the production, transformation and fate of detritus.  Managing cross-boundary detrital subsidies in this context is core to maintaining healthy, productive coastal environments and requires multi-disciplinary inputs to describe and quantify their significance and to put in place the frameworks to ensure they can continue.

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