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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.

A new era in biodiversity science: linking space-based and in-situ observations

November 2019

We’re on the verge of an exciting new era in biodiversity science that will allow the characterisation and monitoring of global biodiversity like never before. An exciting new global observation system is being planned that would revolutionise ecosystem science. Read on to find out how.




I spy: Enhanced camera network to track environmental change

October 2019

TERN, together with another NCRIS-enabled infrastructure, the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility, is significantly upgrading its nation-wide network of time-lapse cameras that monitor the timing of vegetation development, including flowering, fruiting, and leaf lifecycle—phenology—and provide vital information on our changing ecosystems and their services.




Monitoring the world’s 3rd largest tropical rainforest

September 2019

News—and a stunning collection of photographs—on national-scale ecosystem monitoring efforts in Papua New Guinea that are bringing both national and global sustainability and development outcomes.




People using TERN: Marie Yee

August 2019

Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s senior conservation planner is using the ecological understandings generated from the TERN Warra Tall Eucalypt SuperSite—Australia’s oldest LTER site—to develop a landscape approach to biodiversity management in Tasmania’s temperate native forests.




Australia’s Environment in 2018

May 2019

Researchers have taken advantage of TERN’s trusted national and long-term data to develop the latest in an annual series of environmental condition reports. The report, and its accompanying interactive website, provide an annual summary of 15 key environmental indicators and how they have changed over time.




Unscrambling colour variation in Aussie birds’ eggs

May 2019

Researchers have used TERN-delivered remote sensing data to try to explain the vast range of colours and patterns found on Australian bird eggs. Read on to see if high-tech big data have helped crack this centuries-old case.




People using TERN: Keren Raiter

February 2019

Sly foxes and copycats. It seems that Australia’s predators are living up to their reputations by capitalising on human-made roads for hunting. Meet the scientist who’s mapping Australia’s predator highways to inform road planning and achieve better conservation outcomes.




World's first global vegetation database

December 2018

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.



Australia's newest weed

November 2018

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.


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