Plots & Transects

TERN Ecosystem Surveillance undertakes field surveys implementing the AusPlots Survey Protocols across our network of ecosystem monitoring plots and transects. We use standardised methodologies across a 1 hectare plot to collect baseline ecosystem surveillance data.
The data collected by TERN Ecosystem Surveillance are made openly available to the ecosystem science and management community to:

  • increase the understanding of the dynamics of plant species and soils
  • progress knowledge on distribution, abundance and threats to ecosystems
  • increase the knowledge of carbon and nutrient budgets of soils and vegetation
  • input into DNA barcoding of Australian vegetation and soil communities
  • determine the genetic and phylogenetic diversity and biogeography of continent
  • assist in the field validation of remote sensing products
  • assist state and federal agencies to meet monitoring and reporting obligations
  • create a photographic reference of key Australian bioregions, enhance existing State photo reference libraries.

About Our Plots

AusPlots is the core program delivered by TERN Ecosystem Surveillance. It is a plot-based surveillance monitoring program, undertaking baseline assessments of ecosystems across the country. The aim of AusPlots is to establish and maintain a national network of plots that enables consistent ecological assessment and ongoing monitoring.
AusPlots Rangelands
Analysis of gaps in long-term monitoring in Australia showed arid and semi-arid regions of Australia as under-sampled, particularly Acacia woodlands, Hummock grasslands and Chenopod shrublands. The AusPlots Rangelands program was developed to provide information about some of these widespread and yet under-studied environments in Australia.
Whilst lack of information in the rangelands remains a problem, we’re proud of the work we’ve done to date to remedy the situation by installing plot-based infrastructure that is free for all to use and making data openly accessible. Hundreds of sites have been established across the Australian rangelands, with robust vegetation and soils data and samples collected according to our established methods.
AusPlots Forests
The AusPlots Forests program was developed to deal with information gaps in tall eucalypt forests in the more mesic areas of Australia. Whilst these areas had more existing information available compared to rangelands areas, this information had been collected in different ways across the continent. In many locations data was collected by forestry agencies for production purposes, and so missed some important ecological information. The AusPlots Forests program collects information in all areas where Tall Eucalypt forests occur in Australia, using a standardised method.
Research team collecting field data | Featured image for the Environmental Monitoring Systems Page of TERN.

About Our Transects

Large-scale transects are powerful tools for addressing key ecological knowledge needs. TERN’s network of monitoring transects facilitates the study of ecological structure and processes over major biophysical gradients to document ecological change and adaptation in relation to climate variation across Australia’s major terrestrial biomes.

Our transects program’s primary focus is observations and monitoring of natural and semi-natural terrestrial ecosystem gradients, generating data and products to enable researchers to predict how species and ecosystems will change in the future. Through the network, research outcomes are linked with and inform management, policy settings, planning and monitoring programs.

TERN transect data helps answer the following ecological questions of national significance:

  • How do species, communities and ecosystem processes change in space and time, and what are the key processes driving change?
  • What is the relative importance of climate as a driver of ecological change?
  • Is there predictable variation in ecosystem resilience across bioclimatic gradients, and can environmental thresholds be identified where there are abrupt changes in ecological composition, structure and function?
  • What is the potential of species and communities to adapt to a changing climate?

TERN maintains a national network of subcontential transects which travers major biomes, land tenures (including agricultural landscapes and bioclimatic gradients:

  • Biodiversity Adaptation Transect Sydney (BATS)
  • North Australian Tropical Transect (NATT)
  • South-Western Australian Transitional Transect (SWATT)
  • Transect for Environmental Monitoring and Decision Making (TREND)
  • Australian east coast Drosphilia Transect (EADrosT)
  • Box gum east-west transect (BoxEW)
  • Wet tropics altitudinal transect (WTAT)