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Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) Classification Scheme. Overview and Status. Estuarine-Marine Workshop, Canberra 14 th May 2013. Christopher Auricht and Sarah Imgraben. Why do we need a national Classification?.

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Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) Classification Scheme

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Australian national aquatic ecosystem anae classification scheme

Australian National Aquatic Ecosystem (ANAE) Classification Scheme

Overview and Status

Estuarine-Marine Workshop, Canberra 14th May 2013

Christopher Auricht and Sarah Imgraben

Why do we need a national classification

Why do we need a national Classification?

  • Not possible to manage aquatic systems if you don’t know where they are, what theyare, and how they function. (Plus information on values, threatening processes & changes over time)

  • Need to represent the broad range of systems in simple meaningful, discrete and ecologically relevant groups

Australian national aquatic ecosystem anae classification scheme

Aquatic Systems

Riverine (+ fringing vegetation)

Lake – Lacustrine

Estuarine & Marine

Vegetated swamp – Palustrine

Integrated system




Pal (GDE)


Riv (GDE)


Lac (GDE)


Integrated System

Overall ae adaptive mgmt framework where classification fits current understanding





Threatened Sp


Climate Change


Overall AE Adaptive Mgmt Framework - Where Classification Fits (Current Understanding)

What they are

Applications for classification

How they function

Values, services, threats & pressures

Where they are

How are they changing - monitoring

Requirements for generic national system

Requirements for Generic National System

  • Applicable at multiple scales (spatial and temporal)

  • Integrate between different aquatic habitats (functional aspects and connectivity)

  • Utilise and integrate existing national datasets (remote sensing)

  • Translation with jurisdictional databases / systems

  • Workable with different levels of data availability (data rich, data poor)

  • Transparent, comprehensive, inclusive, easy to use

  • Scientifically rigorous

Classification approaches

Classification Approaches

  • Unstructured – list e.g. Ramsar, DIWA

  • Abiotic - driver based e.g. River Styles, estuarine, hydrogeomorphic

  • Biological - bottom-up, species e.g. State-based bioregionalisations

  • Holistic – combination of abiotic and biotic

    e.g. Cowardin, IBRA, IMCRA, ANAE

Anae key features

ANAE: Key Features

  • Based on clearly defined and described attributes at three levels (two regionalisations)

  • Attributes are key drivers of ecological functioning at different levels

  • Attributes link to each other in different systems

  • Allows for a combination of attributes (system) used to determine habitat ‘type’ but types are not specified within the system

  • Structured but non-hierarchical at system and habitat level

  • Not all attributes are needed or available all the time

Spatial scales

Spatial Scales

Level 3 Site / Asset Delineation


Anae structure

ANAE Structure

Structure unpacked

Structure - unpacked

Level 1

Level 1

A broad driver based AE Regionalisation:

  • Landform – broad scale physiographic units from existing national regionalisation datasets provide the bio-geographic and evolutionary context for aquatic ecosystems and habitats

  • Climate – existing broad scale climate regionalisations e.g. Köppen, capture the broad differences in climate (temperature, rainfall and seasons) which are considered contemporary modifiers of the bio-geographic distribution and evolutionary traits of aquatic habitats

  • Hydrology – broad scale drainage divisions which capture the catchments within which aquatic habitats occur

Level 2

Level 2

A number of datasets and regionalisations exist that are appropriate to the landscape covering the thematic areas of:

  • Topography

  • Landform (inc floodplain / non-floodplain)

  • Water influence

Level 3 and attributes

Level 3 and attributes

Attributes inland coastal surface aquatics lacustrine palustrine riverine

Attributes: Inland & Coastal Surface Aquatics (lacustrine / palustrine / riverine)

  • Water Source

    • surface (flood/non-floodplain), groundwater, both

  • Water Type

    • saline, fresh

    • pH

  • Water Regime

    • permanent, intermittent, ephemeral

  • Substrate / Soil

    • peat, mineral, rock

  • Vegetation / Fringing Veg

    • forested, shrub, sedge/grass/forb or no emergent vegetation

  • Confinement (rivers only)

Case study lake eyre basin

Case Study - Lake Eyre Basin

Pros of the process

Pros of the process

Transparent system

Practical - efficient and effective

No gaps

Inclusive - can be widely applied throughout Australia – range of spatial and vertical scales

Attributes are used as necessary – not hierarchical

Attributes can be retrospectively applied to existing spatial datasets

Anae status

ANAE Status

  • AETG Classification Workshop October 2008, plus updates / discussion at AETG meetings 2009 and 2010

  • Concept to develop ANAE Classification Scheme (based on attributes and regionalisations) endorsed by NRPPC Meeting No 21, May 2009

  • Continued development process  Number of workshops and trials - Utility and application + ability to map existing systems into national system. (Throughout 2009 – 2010 period)

Anae status continued

ANAE Status - continued

  • Briefing to Australian Government, Canberra (also QLD) (June 2010)

  • Formal approval AETG, Min Council (2010 – 2012)

  • Aquatic Ecosystems Toolkit Module 2 Interim ANAE Classification a

  • Development of attributes –

    • Lacustrine and Palustrine – (reworked / updated  Connectivity. Trialled in LEB, Sth East and WA). Input to GDE Atlas

    • Riverine (workshop Adelaide, April 2010 – draft attributes  Current trial in MDBA).

    • Subterranean (workshop Adelaide, April 2010)  Input to GDE Atlas

    • Estuarine / Marine – need to split level 3 attributes (NEN & ICAG)

Estuarine marine attributes

Estuarine/Marine Attributes

  • Where/how do Estuarine and Marine systems fit within the scheme (Level 2 and 3)

  • What are the type/s of systems?

  • What attributes are required to ensure that the range of systems is integrated within the existing ANAE classification and/or reflected in the Asset identification process?

  • Are such measures consistent with the intent of the ANAE and can they be used to inform representativeness of assets?

  • Linkage with other systems e.g. OzCoasts & Catami



  • Practical application

  • Spatial Scale

  • Where does and estuary start and stop

  • Periodicity

  • Mixing

  • Water column and floor

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