Nuances of a network: a new structure for the Multi-Scale Plot Network

TERN’s Multi-Scale Plot Network (MSPN) Facility has recently confirmed a new operating structure designed to streamline workflows and ensure the network can focus maximum resources towards its science endeavours. According to new MSPN Facility Director Dr Nikki Thurgate, the changes “will assist the network in moving forward as a group rather than individual programs. It will provide a centralised place for people to tap into our enormous range of scientific expertise”.

The MSPN is collecting data on biodiversity and soil stocks, and ecosystem functions and processes at a range of spatial and temporal scales. Up until now, the MSPN has included three sub-facilities that have employed different approaches to contribute to the MPSN’s overall goals: AusPlots, the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN), and the Australian Supersite Network (ASN). However, to better reflect the range of approaches used within the AusPlots and LTERN sub-facilities the new MSPN structure recognises five sub-facilities:

  • AusPlots Rangelands – sampling over 750 reference plots distributed across Australia’s vast Rangelands to provide baseline data;
  • AusPlots Forests – undertaking in depth analysis of tall eucalypt forests across approximately 50 sites;
  • The ASN – collecting detailed data sets on flora, fauna and biophysical processes at the Supersites that are distributed across a wide range of environmental conditions and represent significant Australian biomes;
  • LTERN – sampling throughout an extensive plot network, representative of national ecosystems, with 10+ years of existing data to build upon; and
  • Transects – ecological sampling across three newly established transect projects: the North Australian Tropical Transect, South West Australian Transitional Transect, and Transect for Monitoring and Decision Making (SA).

To ensure cohesion and consistency across the network, the MSPN has identified a number of support positions to provide advice and leadership across the sub-facilities in key areas including spatial integration, field implementation, statistics, data management, and technology. In addition, a new Science Advisory Panel will provide guidance to provide input to key science questions addressed by the MSPN, consider strategic directions for the future, and ensure the MSPN meets its objectives. Enhanced integration within the MSPN will allow it to harness the synergies between its component sub-facilities and take full advantage of the potential that resides within the network as a whole.

Stay tuned to the TERN website for further updates detailing the new structure and key contact people coming soon. 

Published in TERN e-Newsletter June 2012.

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