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.
An international research team has produced the world's first global vegetation database. Containing over 1.1 million complete lists of plant species for all terrestrial ecosystems, including over 90,000 Australian sites provided by TERN, the ‘sPlot’ database will assist in the development of climate change prediction tools and adaptation strategies.
All that glitters is not gold when it comes to Australia's newest weed. The previously unrecorded species of clover, found during TERN’s survey of Australia’s alpine region, has just been identified as Golden Clover. Native to Europe and never found in Australia before, find out how Trifolium aureum was spotted and what the discovery may mean for our native ecosystems.
More than 100 TERN ecosystem monitoring plots have now been sampled multiple times. The open data from these plots allow researchers to better understand how plants are impacted by drought and are a powerful resource for understanding environmental change and climate adaptation.
Researchers are using TERN infrastructure in Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland to take part in a landmark global experiment that investigates ecosystem response to drought. The experiment’s findings will help to predict and mitigate the impacts of drought in Australia and around the world.
TERN has added 24 more permanent plots to its national network of over 600 ecosystem surveillance sites. The new sites just added in Far North Queensland mean that TERN now provides open-access to environmental data and samples from 85% of Australia’s major terrestrial vegetation groups and over 50% of the nation’s bioregions.