It’s no secret that Australia is in the grip of a biodiversity crisis. What is less well understood are the consequences of cumulative species extinctions for ecosystem function, and how this might affect the ability of these ecosystems to continue to deliver the goods and services – such as clean air and clean water – that we tend to take for granted.
The national scope of TERN’s activities, our networks of scientists and managers, and our focus on sharing and synthesising data means that we are now in a position to enable the development of a continental-scale understanding of what is happening to Australia’s biodiversity. Incorporation of data and knowledge from existing long-term monitoring sites, plots and transects into the network, and establishment of new ones where needed, means that ecosystem scientists and managers can describe changes in both biodiversity and ecosystem function over time, in response to drivers such as fire or climate variability. Corresponding field experiments testing how further changes (such as species loss or invasion, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations or alterations in fire frequency) might affect Australian ecosystem function in future are already underway.
On this page you will find regularly updated links describing the efforts of TERN and our many partners to increase and share our understanding of the connections between biodiversity and ecosystem function in Australia.
In the latest example of TERN’s extensive educational and outreach activities, students are learning best-practice solutions to environmental problems and helping improve our understanding of how our ecosystems behave. Importantly, the program is also motivating high school students to enrol in science related tertiary studies.
An honours student at the Australian National University has used TERN data to identify drivers of Proteaceae declines on Western Australia's islands and where ongoing monitoring and conservation efforts should be focused.
TERN has collected environmental data from over 500 ecosystem surveillance plots across Australia’s rangeland and tall forest ecosystems. These vegetation, soil and landscape data represent an invaluable resource for surveillance monitoring of Australian ecosystems and are helping scientists and land managers nationwide to better monitor, understand and manage our landscapes.
State government funding has been secured for the creation of a new collaborative research group that will utilise the NCRIS funded infrastructure, collaborations and expertise developed through TERN to document the state of NSW’s ecosystems.
Persistence pays as a striped possum with baby moves into a nesting box five years after collaborative monitoring infrastructure was installed at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory.
TERN has enabled Australian researchers to take a leading international role in the development of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, positioning Australia to be a global leader with this significant initiative.
With the Australian Government’s $142.5 million National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) now in full swing we take this opportunity to revisit our discussions with hub leaders and hear about some exciting new research using TERN’s nation-wide infrastructure to protect our biodiversity.
TERN data and infrastructure have been used to map South Australia’s biodiversity hotspots, identify their climate change sensitivity, and ultimately inform priorities and strategies for conservation management.