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Australian Transect Network

The Australian Transect Network (ATN) comprises seven major subcontinental transects that span biomes and traverse major rainfall, temperature and land-use gradients from the coast to inland areas. These are the:

Follow the links to find out more:

The Australian Transect Network’s science direction is led by a Scientific Advisory Group which is developing a long term strategic plan for the ATN—meet the ATN Scientific Advisory Group here. The group meets quarterly and operates under Terms of Reference. It is chaired by the ATN’s Scientific Director, Prof Alan Andersen. The ATN Scientific Advisory Group hosts an annual transect science workshop. Outcomes for the 2015 Workshop can be viewed here.

The ATN’s infrastructure has supported numerous research publications, which can be viewed here.

Large-scale transects are powerful tools for addressing key knowledge needs because they facilitate the study of ecological structure and processes over major biophysical gradients. Thus, transects can be used to help develop, calibrate and validate ecological models and remote sensing products for an enhanced understanding of controls on ecosystem structure and function.

Transects also enable the monitoring of changes to key ecological transitions in the context of global climate change. By studying regional patterns and trends and quantifying species composition and change, our researchers can begin to predict how species and ecosystems will change in the future. This information allows land managers, scientists and governments to ensure that their management plans incorporate likely future changes in our environment.

Key research areas to be addressed by the Australian Transect Network include:

  • How do species abundances, species composition, species richness and ecological function change along large-scale environmental gradients?
  • Can environmental thresholds be identified where there are abrupt changes in species abundances, species composition, species richness or ecological function?
  • Is there predictable variation in ecosystem resilience?
  • To what extent can ecosystem resilience be predicted on the basis of rainfall, temperature and soil type?
  • How might ecosystems respond to climate change?

Information about the ATN’s transects can be viewed in the booklet ‘Windows to Our Environmental Future'. You can also view reports from TERN-funded projects on the NATT and TREND.

The contact people and partner organisations for each of the seven major subcontinental transects that make up The Australian Transect Network (ATN) are shown below:



North Australian Tropical Transect (NT)

Alan Andersen

CSIRO Land & Water Flagship


South West Australian Transitional Transect (WA)

Stephen van Leeuwen/

Margaret Byrne

Department of Parks and Wildlife, Western Australia


Transects for Environmental Decision Making (SA)

Andrew Lowe/

Greg Guerin

University of Adelaide


Biodiversity Adaptation Transect Sydney (NSW)

Maurizio Rossetto

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney


Box gum east-west transect (NSW)

Suzanne Prober

CSIRO Land & Water Flagship


Australian east coast Drosophila Transect

Ary Hoffmann

University of Melbourne


Wet Tropics Altitudinal Transect  (Queensland)

Stephen Williams

James Cook University

^ATN affiliate.


ATN Information Sheets

The Australian Transect Network (ATN) has produced a series of information sheets featuring just some of the ecosystem science research that the ATN facilitates.  The five information sheets below not only showcase some exciting new science and its management implications, but also provide insights into the ways in which ATN infrastructure is helping TERN’s end-user community: the nation, researchers and environmental managers.

Adaptation in an arid eucalypt Assessing climate change vulnerability Savanna ant diversity and climate change
Carbon dynamics and trees in northern Australia Climate change impacts on biodiversity  



ATN Facility Director

Michelle Rodrigo
P: +61 437 322 663


ATN Science Director

Prof. Alan Andersen
P: +61 8 8944 8431



  • Biodiversity hotspots and their threats identified

    Spring 2016

    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.

  • Catchment to coast via the city: TERN expands ecosystem monitoring infrastructure in NSW. New TERN monitoring sites along the Biodiversity and Adaptation Transect Sydney are set to deliver more cohesive ecosystem information at multiple scales and lead to improved understanding of spatial and temporal environmental changes.
  • Living labs on Top End grazing land. TERN is providing infrastructure needed to support science and environmental management in northern Australia’s tropical savanna grazing lands. We take a look at one project that’s using ants to assess the health of our savannas.
  • The treasures of the south-west sandplains now revealed. Come explore, discover and openly access data collected from Western Australia’s unique and species rich sandplain communities via TERN’s data infrastructure.
  • Collaboration between traditional knowledge and contemporary science. A new collaborative project is further strengthening the management capacity of the Birriliburu Indigenous rangers in central WA though knowledge exchange and skills training. The project is utilisting the AusPlots rangelands survey methodology as a way of monitoring the land and documenting fauna and flora.
  • Creating barcodes of Australia’s soils. A project is under way that’s exploiting the synergies between infrastructure projects funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to create a national dataset on soil.
  • TERN sample collections empower Australian science. The extensive sample collections generated by TERN’s Australian Transect Network and AusPlots facilities are empowering new science across Australia. Researchers are already taking advantage of the thousands of samples available to enable new research projects and collaborations.
  • Are you a citizen scientist armed with a smart phone, and have an interest in the impact of controlled burns and how ecosystems recover from fire? Join our research project kicking off now in Cleland Conservation Park near Adelaide.
  • The newest addition to the Australian Transect Network, work at SWATT is generating new knowledge to inform decisions on how to manage the area for economic and environmental sustainability.
  • Effective monitoring and management of the Northern Territory's ecosystems is essential to support the livelihood of communities in Australia's most sparsely populated state or territory. TERN's infrastructure has the territory covered, and is providing practical benefits to local communities on issues such as land-use change, carbon farming and fire management. Read more here.
  • Citizen science in South Australia has taken an exciting step forward with the launch of the TREND program’s mobile app.
  • Researchers associated with TREND are combining field studies with a re-examination of historical specimens and records to improve our understanding of the ways that biodiversity may respond to changing environmental conditions. Click here to read more.
  • TERN's August newsletter describes how TREND is delivering policy-relevant science for state and regional management agencies. The article looks at some of its activities relevant to sustaining dryland and irrigated wine grape production in South Australia.
  • The Australian Transect Network's ecosystem research infrastructure is attracting international attention. Fulbright Fellow Israel del Toro is here to work on ants because ‘Australia has the research infrastructure necessary to complete a project of this magnitude, including long-term ecological research sites and established plots along environmental gradients’. Click here to read more.

Alan Anderson's presentation on the Australian Transect Network at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation 51st meeting in July 2014. Click here to access via TERN's SlideShare page.

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