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Biodiversity Adaptation Transect Sydney  


The Biodiversity Adaptation Transect Sydney (BATS) improves understanding of what controls the composition of ecosystems, and helps identify and monitor the drivers of change. In contrast to other transects that investigate major compositional shifts in vegetation types, the BATS is investigating environmentally driven shifts within one highly diverse vegetation type; the nutrient-poor sandstones of the Sydney basin. Quantifying turnover within one vegetation type along a short but steep gradient, enables characterization of the relative impacts of plasticity versus local adaptation within a replicated (multiple plots, multiple species), dynamic, and connected system. Experimental and observational research will uncover the mechanisms leading to evolutionary diversification, and establish predictive measures of resilience to change. 

Research Infrastructure

The BATS is investigating how floristic diversity changes across an environmental gradient in the Sydney region in New South Wales. The study area is between the coast (1360 mm mean annual rainfall) and the Capertee Valley, west of the Great Dividing Range (620 mm). A landscape-scale approach is being used to investigate taxonomic, functional, genetic and genomic turn-over along a natural environmental gradient. The research is being conducted in three parts:

  • Plot-based research along an environmental transect traversing the sandstone soils of the Sydney region exploring species turnover across altitudinal and rainfall gradients.
  • Research contrasting plastic versus adaptive variation in two species co-occurring along the same environmental gradient.
  • Research which places genetic turn-over along this transect into the broader context of genetic variation across the entire distributional range of the same species. This will help determine whether altitudinal variation is similar to latitudinal variation.


General location

Sydney coast to the Capertee Valley in New South Wales

Research infrastructure themes

Ecosystem turnover along rainfall and altitudinal gradients.

Taxonomic, functional and genetic turnover along the transect.

Links between phenotypic/genomic plasticity and selective response for key species across environmental gradients.

Year Established


Transect Length

200 km

No. of plots


Rainfall Gradient (mean annual)

1360 mm – 620 mm

Data type

Vegetation abundance, traits (plant height, leaf and seed dimensions, leaf and seed characteristics) and climate (temperature)

Temporal revisit (ideal)

3 to 5 years

TERN Facilities on the BATS

AusPlots; Australian Supersite Network; Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN); OzFlux



  • Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust
  • Macquarie University
  • The University of Sydney
  • Australian Research Council


Transect leader

Maurizio Rossetto




Papers and Reports

Australian Transect Network data are published in the TERN AEKOS Portal where it is freely available to the research community:



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