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Biogeochemical processes


Biogeochemical processes supporting productivity of Kimberley coastal waters

Other Details: 

Kimberly Marine Research Program: Project 2.2.2
Location: Camden Sound and King Sound
Project Leader: Matt Hipsey, UWA
Telephone: 6488 3186

Final Report

Biogeochemical Processes Report WAMSI KMRP Project 2.2.2_Hipsey et al 2017_FINAL

Project Summary Update

Project Aims

  • Study primary productivity of phytoplankton (algae presence and growth) in open water
  • Study nutrient cycles and food webs
  • Describe phytoplankton and zooplankton communities in coastal waters of the Kimberley
  • Describe links between physical and biological processes in the region

Project Methods

  • Samples collected using nets towed behind boat to collect plankton and water samples
  • Stable isotope analysis of the samples to see what part of the food web they belong to
  • Two research surveys on the RV Solander (wet and dry season) will collect samples
  • Other measurements of physical water properties will be made e.g. turbidity and total suspended solids (TSS)

Proposed location for the project

Collier Bay

Project duration July2013-December 2015


  • Descriptions of plankton community composition, biomass and biodiversity in Kimberley shelf, coastal and estuarine habitats
  • Understanding of relative importance of riverine nutrient and organic matter inputs vs oceanic nutrients in controlling regional phytoplankton (algae) production
  • Understanding of food web structure and function
  • Models  linking the physical  processes of nutrient  cycling to  biological production of phytoplankton and zooplankton

Longer term goals beyond the life of the project

Understand the nutrient cycles and in-water food pathways in the Kimberley and model these, including factors such as climate change.

Research Articles

McLaughlin M.J., Greenwood J.E., Branson P., Lourey M.J., Hanson C. E. (2020) Evidence of phytoplankton light acclimation to periodic turbulent mixing along a tidally dominated tropical coastline. Journal of Geophysical Research – Oceans.

McKinnon AD, Doyle J, Duggan S, Logan M, Lønborg C, Brinkman R (2015) Zooplankton Growth, Respiration and Grazing on the Australian Margins of the Tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. PLoS ONE 10(10): doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140012

Jones NJ, Patten N, Krikke D, Lowe R, Waite A, Ivey G (2014) Biophysical characteristics of a morphologically-complex macrotidal tropical coastal system during a dry season. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 149: 96–108. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2014.07.01


Furnas M (2014) High phytoplankton productivity in hyper-physical tropical shelf and coastal system: the Kimberley shelf, NW Australia, ASLO 2014 Marine Science Meeting, Honolulu (Poster presentation).

Hipsey MR, Furnas M, Jones N, Bruce LC, Nguyen T, Greenwood J et al. (2015) Pathways to production - Biogeochemical processes supporting productivity of the Kimberley coast. Presentation at the Western Australian Marine Science Institute (WAMSI) 2015 Symposium, Perth, Australia 2017 WAMSI Research Conference (video of presentation)

Hipsey MR, Furnas M, Jones N, Bruce LC, Nguyen T, Greenwood J et al. (2016) Hydrodynamic and Biogeochemical Controls on Productivity in the Kimberley Coast. Presentation to the Department of Parks and Wildlife lunch and learn session, October 2016, Perth, Australia. (background)

News stories

Kimberley coastal system: links from the land to the deep sea (WAMSI June 2016)

Project links

2.2.1 Oceanographic dynamics

2.2.2 Biogeochemical processes

2.2.6 Land-ocean linkages