Brief: Carbon and Productivity Calculations in Exmouth Gulf Region

Sharyn Hickey, Catherine Lovelock, Amy Stone

Research output: Book/ReportOther output

5 Downloads (Pure)


High intertidal cyanobacterial mats and salt flats are features of intertidal zones of the arid regions of the world, including the Exmouth Gulf region of Australia. In this region salt flats occur on the landward edge of intertidal zone, often bordered seaward by fringing mangroves and landward by dunes. The salt flats, in parts, are covered by cyanobacterial mats, comprising diverse microbial cyanobacterial communities that can be covered by salt at times due to the evaporative processes of these arid wetlands. The salt flats are an extensive landform in the region though have had relatively limited research. As such, knowledge of the ecological role, values and functions of the salt flats, and cyanobacterial mats are limited. Their ecology and functions have not been fully explored but they are likely habitat to unique microbial communities,
they are used by fauna, including juvenile shovelnose rays when flooded, and
contribute to the outwelling of materials to the coastal zone that supports
production. These high intertidal (salt) flats are vital components of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems due to their location at the ecotone of both ecosystems. While research is limited it is evident that these environments support both flora and fauna, as well as providing important biogeochemical functions (Figure 1). Key ecological functions include their role in carbon sequestration and storage, and nutrient cycling.
In this brief, we provide estimates on primary productivity, carbon sequestration,
and nitrogen fixation, based on previous reports, and mapping undertaken as part of this portfolio of work. For further information on the intertidal area of the Exmouth Gulf and their ecological value and function, or mapping of these communities, see:
● Hickey, S., Stone, A. and Lovelock, C. (2023) ‘The Cyanobacterial Mats of the Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia: Mapping Report’, The University of Western Australia, p. 56.
● Hickey, S. and Lovelock, C. (2022) ‘The Salt Flats of Exmouth Gulf: Ecological
Functions and Threats’, The University of Western Australia, p. 49.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyMinderoo Foundation
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Cite this