Seagrass trace element bioindicator development

Manuja on beach


The Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring Program has been monitoring Port Curtis ecological health at a wide range sampling sites that span Gladstone Harbor from The Narrows to Rodds Bay and include sites within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park zones. Between 2015-2021, seagrass sampling was carried out as an indicator of water quality and as a route for trace element (TE) bioaccumulation. Fifteen TEs were measured in the above (leaves and stems) and below (roots and rhizomes) ground compartments of the seagrass Zostera muelleri, as well as in the sediment. Across year comparisons allowed us to identify spatial and temporal changes in TE levels across Port Curtis. Two pollution indices (Trace Element Pollution Index, TEPI; Trace Element Spatial Variation Index (TESVI) were also used to capture and summarise variability and identify anomalies over time in TE concentrations.


This monitoring provides a benchmark for TE concentrations in seagrass and sediment in the Port Curtis region, allowing future concentrations to be assessed with respect to worst-case scenario (WCS) values, alerting stakeholders to TE levels in the environment which could be detrimental.


Port Curtis Integrated Monitoring  Program (PCIMP)

Emma Jackson

Associate Professor Emma Jackson - CMERC Director

Associate Professor Emma Jackson is the Director of the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre and a Research Fellow in Marine Ecology. She has 19 years of research expertise in the areas of fisheries ecology, seagrass landscape and restoration ecology, impacts on marine species, coastal marine habitats and ecosystem health indicators.

At CQUniversity we are committed to embedding sustainable practice in our operations, interactions and relationships, underpinned by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainability sits as one of our strategic pillars within our Strategy Plan 2019-2023.

This project aligns to the following SDG Goals

  • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
  • 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 14 - Life below water
  • 17 - Partnerships for the Goal