• Contact Us
  • +61 (07) 3365 9097


Observing terrestrial biodiversity from gene to ecosystem levels, monitoring patterns of change & examining the drivers behind change.

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.

Biodiversity Sub-Themes, Resources and Projects:

A national mangrove observing system

June 2018

In a giant leap towards the creation of Australia’s first nationwide mangrove observing system, TERN has provided open access to decades of historical and newly acquired field and Earth observation data. These data alert scientists and managers to environmental change, allow them to understand the causes and impacts of this change to sustainably manage our valuable mangrove ecosystems, and enhance Australia’s contribution to the global Sustainable Development Goals.


New sites fill spatial and climatic environmental monitoring gap

June 2018

TERN has added another 27 permanent plots to its national network of over 600 ecosystem surveillance sites. The new sites in New South Wales and South Australia represent the first nationally-consistent monitoring in an important climatic region and provide vital information to state government and not-for-profit conservation programs.


Australia’s new Threatened Species Index: the ASX of conservation

June 2018

Just as the ASX 200 tracks the trend of the financial world, Australia will soon have its own index for monitoring the trajectory of its threatened species. As the first of its type in the world, the index will provide reliable and robust measures of changes in biodiversity to support more coherent and transparent reporting and protection of threatened species.


Australia’s newest globally consistent ecosystem map

March 2018

Ecosystem maps allow managers to craft strategies that ensure that our unique ecosystems and their services are not lost. Unfortunately, however, there is no consistent way of mapping ecosystems across nations and jurisdictions. Thankfully, this is set to change courtesy of TERN and the University of Adelaide who have remapped the characteristics of Australia's ecosystems using nationally and globally consistent methods.

Forecasting nature just as we forecast the weather?

March 2018

Just like the weather forecasts we all take for granted, can we create a reliable a ‘nature forecast’ to help us better understand, manage and conserve ecosystems? Get ready for ecological forecasting! The shift from conception to actively building collaborations that span international boundaries, ecological scale and observation systems has begun. Read on to hear how the world’s environmental observatories are integrating for ecological forecasting.


Australians unlock their gates to ecosystem surveys

March 2018

With almost 600 ecosystem observing sites nation-wide it's inevitable that some TERN infrastructure is hosted on private or community property. To thank Australia's participating landholders for unlocking their gates, TERN has delivered summary reports for over 150 private and pastoral properties, conservation reserves, and NRM regions. The reports provide key data for each property or region and represent an invaluable resource to private landholders and land management authorities alike.


Watching over our incredible eucalypt ecosystems

March 2018

Join us as we celebrate National Eucalypt Day with a special video showcasing how the TERN observatory is measuring the nation’s precious eucalypt ecosystems to allow scientists to detect their responses to environmental change and understand what this means for the future. Watch the short video and find out more about how we’re watching over our incredible and valuable eucalypt ecosystems.


Sustaining Australia’s critical alpine zone: new ecosystem surveillance plots supplement seven decades of monitoring

January 2018

Camped on the top of the Australian Alps a team of ecologists is beating the heat and sampling Australia’s critical yet fragile alpine ecosystems. The soil and vegetation data they collect will supplement a 70-year-long dataset and provide ecologists and land managers with the information they need to ensure the sustainability of our unique alpine environment and the ecosystem services it provides.


When weeds are good

December 2017

New science has shown that there can be a positive relationship between weeds and native plant biodiversity in grassland ecosystems, debunking some long-held assumptions that underpin common weed management practices. We hear from the paradigm-busting scientists who are changing the way we consider the threats of weeds to biodiversity.


Working with the community to collect data on raptors 

November 2017

A unique citizen science project utilising the data infrastructure of multiple NCRIS facilities, including TERN and the Atlas of Living Australia, is collecting and collating information on three iconic Australian raptor species to ensure their longevity. So, grab your camera and contribute to managing, understanding and protecting these spectacular birds of prey.


Students provide comprehensive record of the reef

October 2017

A new data repository has been launched that provides open access to in-depth environmental data collected as a result of education activities conducted on the Great Barrier Reef. Together with our partners we’re compiling a comprehensive record of the reef that researchers and regulatory agencies can use to monitor changes, and that anyone can use to learn more about this wonder of the natural world.


Visualising a century of platypus sightings

October 2017

Users and uses of TERN data are proving to be as diverse as the data themselves. Join us as we showcase one TERN user’s engaging visual data story of 100 years of platypus sightings using Tasmanian State Government data openly available via TERN.


Just part of the picture: camera traps reveal biodiversity at high-tech ecosystem observatories

September 2017

TERN is revolutionising the way environmental change is monitored by creating an autonomous, wireless sensor network throughout Australia at its ecosystem observing sites. Remote camera traps, operating alongside time-lapse vegetation cameras, acoustic monitors and climate sensors, are helping researchers build complete pictures of biodiversity and providing early detection of environmental change. Join us as we share with you some of these remotely captured images.


Australia’s ecosystem sample library

September 2017

Australia’s national terrestrial ecosystems sample library has moved. Tens of thousands of soil and vegetation samples collected by TERN’s ecosystem surveillance monitoring are now housed at Waite and openly available for researchers to use. Find out what’s available and how you can use the library to advance your research.


Sign up for our monthly news bulletin:

Please send me the TERN e-Newsletter
I agree to the Privacy Policy
Please send me the TERN e-Newsletter
Please send me information about TERN events (e.g. Annual National Symposium)