Communities of Practice

TERN infrastructure and data are used by researchers to investigate a great diversity of ecosystem questions. TERN therefore intersects with communities of practice in a range of disciplines.

TERN people are engaged with national and international interest groups to:

  • ensure that Australian ecosystem research is well-represented in Australia, in our region (South-East Asia) and globally
  • contribute to global discourse on current and emerging ecosystem knowledge
  • promote TERN Infrastructure and data – and their availability to all researchers
  • exchange ideas with affiliated peak bodies and track current practice in other countries
  • support evidence–based decision making on management of ecosystems and landscapes

TERN data is increasingly being used in multi-region and multi-discipline research, particularly in climate science. We expect that large scope research programs looking at complex processes and change at global/regional scale will become common.


TERN works closely with the two peak bodies for ecology and ecosystem research in Australia – The Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) and The Ecosystem Science Council (ESC).  TERN also participates in the annual ESA conference, the main forum for advances in Australian Ecology, which is held at the end of November each year.

Long-Term Ecosystem Science (AusLTER)

Long-term researchers occupy a unique space in the research landscape, primarily due to the disconnect between the inherent level of time commitment—in research that can span a lifetime—and the increasing uncertainty of ongoing funding. This is despite the fact that almost everyone accepts the value and importance of long-term studies.

Feedback from the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) network indicates that Australia is leading the way in many areas of long-term research infrastructure provision and data capture. It also suggests that we share some of the challenges of ensuring national and global collaboration for site registration and use of data.

Australia currently has 26 long-term ecological research sites registered by the global peak body, the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER), however, we know there are many more long-term ecological and agricultural research sites in Australia.

TERN, the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) and the Ecosystem Science Council (ESC) are working together to provide the Australian long-term ecological research community (AusLTER) with a means to collaborate, meet and discuss strategies and structures that will position the community to work together locally, nationally and internationally.

TERN’s role as the national ecosystem observatory, and hence Australia’s lead on environmental research infrastructure initiatives, is to represent AusLTER on the Coordinating Committee of ILTER and continue to pay Australia’s annual membership fees to ILTER.

ESA is committed to facilitating a neutral, inclusive and safe space for this community of practice to determine a way forward and is consulting with the AusLTER community to identify their wishes and needs for support for an AusLTER community. Initially, ESA can provide a support structure through its Research Chapter framework.

TERN, ESA and ESC aim to reinvigorate AusLTER, one of the founders of ILTER. A stronger AusLTER, with one or more special interest groups, will enable Australian long-term ecosystem researchers to have an annual workshop and coordinate to seek collaboration opportunities internationally with other ILTER members.


What do they do:
  • OzFlux has been set up to provide the Australian and global ecosystem modelling communities with nationally consistent observations of energy, carbon and water exchange between the atmosphere and key Australian ecosystems through a network of micrometeorological flux stations located at various sites within Australia and New Zealand.
  • Understand mechanisms controlling exchanges of carbon, water vapour and energy between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere over a range of time and space scales.
What they can provide:
  • to provide data on carbon and water balances of key ecosystems for model testing
  • to provide information to validate estimates of net primary productivity, evaporation, and energy absorption using remotely sensed radiance data
  • to provide data to validate new developments in micrometeorological theory for fluxes and air flows in complex terrain
  • to provide high precision CO2 concentrations measurements (at Cape Grim) for use in regional, continental and global atmospheric inverse studies of the carbon cycle.

Meteorology forcing data, land–air exchanges (fluxes) of carbon dioxide, heat, energy and water.

Other Infrastructure:
  • Monitoring sites with flux stations.
  • Flux tower. Components: Sonic anemometer, infrared gas analyser, 2 RBG cameras, net radiometer, cup and vane wind sentry, temperature and humidity probe.
OzFlux sites

Sensitive Data

Australian Government grant guidelines dictate that, as a general principle, research data should be openly available and accessible to ensure widest possible use and benefit from the investment. There are many research groups however that have concerns about meeting this requirement without compromising sensitive data – particularly in areas such as personal medical information, endangered species locations etc. Whilst there are safeguards in place to protect such information, such as de-identifying personal data and obfuscating location data, there is ongoing discussion about needs and strategies used by and available to researchers in a range of domains.

Other communities of practice

Information and links on the following communities of practice coming soon…

  • Remote Sensing
  • Modelling
  • Informatics