• Contact Us
  • +61 (07) 3365 9097

South West Australian Transitional Transect


The South West Australian Transitional Transect (SWATT) is an ecological infrastructure initiative developed to measure biodiversity attributes and biophysical processes. The infrastructure informs key ecosystem science questions and assists with the development and validation of ecosystem models.  Many of the questions addressed by research programs using the SWATT relate to the impacts of changing climate, land use and management practice on the patterns and processes that influence the distribution of genes, species and communities.  Research underpinned by SWATT data is enabling better management and provides evidence to support sustainable development, landscape restoration and increased ecosystem resilience.

Research Infrastructure

The SWATT, which is located in southwest Western Australia, incorporates an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot, the Southwest Botanical Province; a national biodiversity hotspot, the Central and Eastern Avon Wheatbelt; and the evolutionary significant species-rich southwest Interzone, which includes the globally significant Great Western Woodlands. The SWATT also intercepts two nationally significant phytogeographic transitional zones; the Triodia-Acacia line and the Menzies line.

The SWATT captures several biophysical gradients that drive species selection, influence community composition and determine assemblage distributional patterns across the landscape. Some of the ecosystem science questions the SWATT aims to inform include how biodiversity is partitioned across the landscape a) at a gene, species and community level in response to biophysical processes, b) how species, population and regional scale genetic variability responds to biophysical gradients and c) to what extent this confers an adaptive advantage to climate change. 

General location

South west Western Australia, from Walpole on the south coast to beyond Matuwain in the Little Sandy Desert.

Research infrastructure themes

Temporal and spatial changes in community composition and soil carbon in response to changes in environmental gradients. 

Benchmarking the habitat specificity, phenotypic plasticity and variability in stress response genes for key species across environmental gradients.

Year Established


Transect Length

1200 km

No. of plots


Rainfall Gradient (mean annual)

800 mm on the coast to 250 mm inland.

Data type

For all sites:  Vegetation structure; vascular flora; soil macronutrient status; soil texture

At most sites: Vertebrates; selected invertebrates (spiders, beetles, ants)

Temporal revisit (ideal)

3 to 5 years

TERN Facilities on the SWATT

AusPlots; Australian Supersite Network; OzFlux; AusCover



  • WA Department of Parks and Wildlife
  • University of Adelaide

Transect leader

Dr Stephen van Leeuwen




Papers and reports

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

  • SWATT soil and vegetation dataset: http://www.aekos.org.au/collection/wa.gov.au/swatt
  • TERN Ausplots data on SWATT: Search in AEKOS by site ID for AusPlots co-located on the SWATT - WAAJAF0001, WAAJAF0002,WAAESP0001, WAAJAF0003, WAAMAL0003, WAAMAL0002, WAAAVW0002, WAAAVW0001, WAACOO0001, WAACOO0016, WAACOO0017, WAACOO0019, WAACOO0018, WAACOO0032, WAACOO0031, WAACOO0026, WAACOO0027, WAACOO0028, WAACOO0029, WAAMUR0002, WAAMUR0001, WAAMUR0030, WAAMUR0028, WAAMUR0029, WAAMUR0031 (list current at April 2017)

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)