Daintree Rainforest SuperSite

TERN’s affiliate Daintree Rainforest SuperSite is comprised of two field sites.  The primary site is at the Daintree Rainforest Observatory (DRO) at Cape Tribulation. It comprises a long-term monitoring site, canopy crane and extensive researcher and teaching infrastructure. Nearby is the Daintree Discovery Centre site at Cow Bay, an ecotourism interpretive centre featuring a canopy tower, flux tower, aerial walkway and scientific monitoring. The sites are located about 120 km north of Cairns, Queensland.

Site Infrastructure & Characteristics

SuperSite Research Infrastructure

Daintree Rainforest Observatory

  • Canopy crane
  • Weather station
  • 1 ha core plot
  • Gauging station
  • Soil water content, soil water potential, soil temperature sensors
  • Logging dendrometer bands
  • Faunacams
  • Sap flow system
  • Groundwater logging bores (3)
  • Rainout shelter
  • Comprehensive herbarium and insect collections for identifications


Daintree Discovery Centre

  • Eddy covariance flux tower
  • Weather station
  • 1 ha core plot
  • Phenocams (1 above canopy)
  • Soil water content, soil temperature sensors
  • Sap flow system
SuperSite Details

Daintree Rainforest Observatory

  • Vegetation type: Complex Mesophyll Vine Forest (CMVF) 20 – 35 m canopy
  • Elevation: 65 m
  • Rainfall: ~5143 mm/yr
  • Mean Temperature: 24.4°C
  • Soils: acidic, dystrophic, brown dermosol and colluvial gravels


Daintree Discovery Centre

  • Vegetation type: Complex Mesophyll Vine Forest (CMVF) 20 – 35 m canopy
  • Elevation: 86 m
  • Rainfall:~4425 mm/yr
  • Mean Temperature: 24.0 °C
  • Soils: acidic, dystrophic, brown dermosol

Site Research

Research using the Daintree Rainforest SuperSite aims to:
  • How are the biota (in particular locally endemic species) changing in form, frequency and distribution and what are the drivers of change?
  • Does the vegetation represent a stable structure (overstorey versus understory dynamics) or has climate change affected it?
  • Which taxa of organisms are the most sensitive to local climate change and how can these be assembled into an accurate biodiversity monitoring tool?
  • What are the fundamental vertical and lateral energy, carbon, water and nutrient stocks and flows in the tropical forests of north Queensland?
  • How are these stocks and flows responding to past management and climate change and how are they likely to respond in the future?
  • How important is the connectivity between these ecosystems for hydrology, faunal movement and as refugia under conditions of past and future climate change?

Site Partners

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Research Publications

Since its inception, TERN’s infrastructure has enabled the publication of more than 1600 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles or books.