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.
New research using decades of monitoring data available through TERN has identified significant problems with historic fire management in one of Australia's premier National Parks: Kakadu. Despite the data painting a somewhat negative picture of the past, the research proposes economically viable carbon-market based solutions and vindicates recent park management actions that are delivering more sustainable and ecologically appropriate fire management in the reserve.
Assisted by TERN data infrastructure, the Queensland government has released Australia’s first comprehensive state-wide regional ecosystem maps, providing unparalleled detailed online information on the status of Queensland’s diverse native vegetation.
TERN is investing in a brave new world of biodiversity monitoring with remote sensors and artificial intelligence. Acoustic sensors at our nation-wide environmental observatories provide the infrastructure and data required by our stakeholders to monitor biodiversity at large spatial and temporal scales. Come hear their stories and the sounds they’re using to understand and conserve our ecosystems.
TERN’s infrastructure and expertise have proven vital to a new global analysis of the distribution of forests and woodlands across dryland ecosystems. The work, a direct result of our ongoing collaboration with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, has increased current estimates of global forest cover by nearly 10%. Just published in Science, these results will improve global carbon models and inventories.
20 years of biodiversity and farm health research at TERN monitoring sites will help ANU researchers and farmers better integrate the environment and farming to deliver increased productivity, improved conservation outcomes and more resilient farming communities.
Using TERN’s continental-scale environmental monitoring, researchers have discovered high variability in biodiversity across Western Australia’s sandplain ecosystems—a finding with important implications for conservation and management decisions.
2017 sees TERN reach a milestone of 582 ecosystem surveillance plots sampled across our rangelands and tall forest ecosystems. Vegetation, soil and landscape data from over 500 plots are now openly accessible via TERN’s open access data infrastructure and represent an invaluable resource for ecosystem science in Australia.
Perched 30m above the rainforest, Australia’s latest piece of high-tech environmental surveillance kit keeps watch. This new, TERN-developed vegetation-monitoring camera is tipped to revolutionise Australian ecosystem science, making the measurement of change and carbon in our environment easier and cheaper than ever before.