You are here

Dredging pressures on coral


Effects of dredging-related pressures on critical ecological processes for coral

Other Details: 

Dredging Science Program: Theme 7
Location: Pilbara and Kimberley
Project Leader: Andrew Negri, AIMS
Telephone: 07 4871 4322


Effects sediments on coral reproduction_WAMSI DSN Project 7.1 Jones et al 2017_FINAL
Coral Reproduction in WA_WAMSI DSN Project 7.2 Gilmour et al 2017_FINAL


Sediments released from dredging can reduce or block light, clog filtering and feeding apparatus and smother benthic organisms. Sediments can also affect many aspects of the reproduction and recruitment processes which underlie the maintenance of communities and their resilience to disturbance. Particularly relevant to managing the risk of dredging projects around coral reefs is the phenomenon of multi-specific synchronous spawning of corals, where many (though not all) coral species spawn at predictable times of the year. Since some studies have indicated that the early life-history stages of corals are particularly sensitive to sediments (and since no evidence has been presented to the contrary), the precautionary principle has been applied to managing risks posed by sedimentation during the mass spawning period. Regulations in WA have required a shutdown of dredging operations shortly before and after the known synchronous spawning periods. These shutdown periods are referred to as Environmental Windows (EW). Theme 7 of the WAMSI Dredging Science Node addresses the environmental effects of sediments on the early life-history stages of corals, coral spawning Environmental Windows and shutdown procedures as applied to large scale dredging project in WA.


Negri et al. Effects of dredging on coral reproduction - Thresholds and indicators and synthesis of knowledge and considerations for management. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference  (audio) Presentation slides

Negri A et al. Laboratory experimentation on the effects of dredging on fertilisation, larval development and settlement of corals.  2017 WAMSI Research Conference (audioPresentation slides Video: Coral larvae settling on calcareous red algae

Babcock R et al. Coral reproduction in Western Australia. 2017 WAMSI Research Conference (audioPresentation slides

Research Articles

Ricardo G.F., Jones R.J., Nordborg M, Negri A.P. (2017) Settlement patterns of the coral Acropora millepora on sediment-laden surfaces. Science of The Total Environment

Ricardo G.F., Jones R.J., Clode P.L., Negri A.P. (2016) Mucous Secretion and Cilia Beating Defend Developing Coral Larvae from Suspended Sediments. PLoS ONE 11(9): e0162743. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0162743

Ricardo G, Jones, Negri A, Stocker R (Feb 2016) That sinking feeling: Suspended sediments can prevent the ascent of coral egg bundles. Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep21567

Ricardo G, Jones R, Clode P, Humanes A, Negri A. (Dec 2015) Suspended sediments limit coral sperm availability Scientific Reports doi:10.1038/srep18084

R. Jones, G.F. Ricardo, A.P. Negri, (Sept 2015) Effects of sediments on the reproductive cycle of corals. Marine Pollution Bulletin doi:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2015.08.021