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Leading ecologists publish paper on power of TERNís networked ecological transect infrastructure

Leading ecologists publish paper on power of TERN’s networked ecological transect infrastructure

Tuesday 6 June 2017

A newly released paper in the journal Ecology and Evolution draws together the collective insights of many of the nation’s leading ecologists to demonstrate the power of TERN’s networked ecological transect infrastructure.

The paper, ‘Bioclimatic transect networks: Powerful observatories of ecological change’, uses the research facilitated by TERN’s Australian Transect Network to demonstrate that transect networks provide cost-effective and robust insights into ecological and evolutionary adaptation and improve forecasting of ecosystem change.

Based on the collective experience of 20 ecologists, along with the research of a suite of other scientists at home and abroad, the paper has identified the key requirements of effective transect-based research.

It tackles the perceived limitations of approaches involving individual transects and shows that they can be overcome by replicating and networking transects, along with the introduction of experimental treatments.

The authors illustrate how population and community-level studies can be integrated with observations from multiple transects, manipulative experiments, genomics, and ecological modeling to provide novel spatiotemporal insights into how species and ecosystems respond to climate change.  Such insights are vital to inform natural resource management projects, policy settings, conservation and climate adaptation planning, and ecological monitoring programs that promote biodiversity resilience.

The lessons and methods in the paper are useful for anyone involved in supporting, designing, undertaking, or using the outputs of transect-based ecological research, and the authors hope that this enables the development of more effective and influential ecosystem science research and management in Australia.

TERN’s Australian Transect Network maintains a national network of subcontinental transects traversing major biomes, land tenures and bioclimatic gradients. It delivers publicly accessible data and products to enable researchers to predict how species and ecosystems will change in the future.