Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Articles


National-scale marine bioregions for the Southwest Pacific


Maria Beger, University of Leeds; University of Queensland
Hans Wendt, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Jonah Sullivan, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature); Geoscience Australia
Claire Mason, University of Queensland; University of Tasmania
Jimaima LeGrand, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature); Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland
Kate Davey, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Stacy Jupiter, Wildlife Conservation Society, Melanesia Program
Daniela M. Ceccarelli, Marine Ecology Consultant
Alex Dempsey, Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation
Graham Edgar, University of Tasmania
David A. Feary, MRAG ltd., London
Douglas Fenner
Marian Gauna, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Hannah Grice, University of Leeds
Sahar Noor Kirmani, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Sangeeta Mangubhai, Wildlife Conservation Society
Sam Purkis, Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation; Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Zoe T. Richards, Curtin University; Western Australian Museum
Randi Rotjan, Boston University
Rick Stuart-Smith, University of Tasmania
Helen Sykes, Marine Ecology Consulting
Naushad Yakub, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
Andrew G. Bauman, National University of SingaporeFollow
Alec Hughes, Wildlife Conservation Society, Solomon Islands
Jason Raubani, The Pacific Community
Adam Lewis, Geoscience Australia
Leanne Fernandes, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Marine Pollution Bulletin


Bioregionalisation, Conservation planning data, Species distribution modelling, Hierarchical cluster analysis, Pelagic environment, Coral reef biodiversity





First Page



Existing marine bioregions covering the Pacific Ocean are conceptualised at spatial scales that are too broad for national marine spatial planning. Here, we developed the first combined oceanic and coastal marine bioregionalisation at national scales, delineating 262 deep-water and 103 reef-associated bioregions across the southwest Pacific. The deep-water bioregions were informed by thirty biophysical environmental variables. For reef-associated environments, records for 806 taxa at 7369 sites were used to predict the probability of observing taxa based on environmental variables. Both deep-water and reef-associated bioregions were defined with cluster analysis applied to the environmental variables and predicted species observation probabilities, respectively to classify areas with high taxonomic similarity. Local experts further refined the delineation of the bioregions at national scales for four countries. This work provides marine bioregions that enable the design of ecologically representative national systems of marine protected areas within offshore and inshore environments in the Pacific.

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Additional Comments

This study was supported by the country representatives of the Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Managementin Pacific Island Countries (MACBIO) project. We particularly thank in-country experts who helped refine and finalise the marine bioregions for use in their respective countries. MACBIO was funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety's (BMUB's) International Climate Initiative (IKI). It was implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) with the countries of Fiji, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. It had technical support from the Oceania Regional Office of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and worked in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP). Significant assistance with data provision was provided by the following people and institutions: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Reef Life Survey; Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC); Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); The Nature Conservancy (TNC); UNEP-WCMC; WorldFish Centre; World Resources Institute (WRI), Gerry Allen, Simon Donner (UBC), Maël Imirizaldu (Marine Conservation Consulting), Stuart Sandin (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Karen Stone (Vava'u Environmental Protection Association), Paul Muir (Museum of Tropical Queensland), Yashika Nand and Waisea Naisilisili (Wildlife Conservation Society Fiji), Peter Houk (University of Guam) and the Micronesia Coral Reef Monitoring program, Emre Turak, and Kate Fraser, Badi R Samaniego, Janet Eyre working with the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation. We are further grateful to the University of Queensland and the University of Leeds for assistance with administration, and to Geoscience Australia for releasing Mr Sullivan for this project. The report benefitted from comments by Mark Spalding and Piers Dunstan, and the help of Roopinder Nagra.





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