Northern Australia next stop in traverse of world’s key biomes

The North Australian Tropical Transect (NATT) traverses Australia’s tropical savanna biome from the Northern Territory coast (cf. 1700 mm annual rainfall) south to the end of the monsoonal zone (about 500 mm) over a distance of ~800 km. The transect is being used to help explore changes in species and ecosystems between climatic zones and help understand how these may change. By studying regional patterns and trends and quantifying species composition and change, our researchers can begin to predict how species and ecosystems will change in the future. This information allows land managers, scientists and governments to ensure that their management plans incorporate likely future changes in our environment.

The NATT was established by the CSIRO in the mid-1990s as a part of a global network of subcontinental-scale transects that traverse the world’s major biomes, under the auspices of the UN’s International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). Seeing the value in this already developed program, TERN adopted the NATT and has integrated it in to the Australian Transect Network (ATN).

The ATN currently has a team of field workers installing baseline sites at the northern end of the transect. These baseline sites will unite the historical data collected by the CSIRO and its research partners with new data collected by TERN, breathing new life in to the work done over the last 25 years. The surveys being undertaken will include soil and vegetation work, and as with all ATN surveys, samples and data will be made publically available as soon as possible after collection.

New datasets:

Like the AusPlots team, the ATN has also been busy over the hot summer months processing field samples and data. We have just released data for a significant number (~130 sites online) via the ÆKOS Data Portal and Soils to Satellites. In addition, a huge number of rangeland soil samples (5952 to be precise) have been delivered to the CSIRO National Soil Archive.

Recent publications:

The ATN team made significant contributions to TERN’s recent book ’Biodiversity and Environmental Change’.

Published in TERN newsletter March 2014

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