Robson Creek Rainforest SuperSite

TERN’s Robson Creek Rainforest SuperSite is located on the Atherton Tablelands in Danbulla National Park within the Wet Tropics World Heritage area. The site’s climate is seasonal with approximately 60% of annual rainfall falling between January and March and the landform is moderately inclined with a low relief although the Lamb Range rises sharply to 1276 m immediately to the north of the site.

Site Infrastructure & Characteristics

SuperSite Research Infrastructure
  • Eddy-covariance flux tower
  • 1 ha core plot
  • 25 ha forest dynamics plot
  • Weather station
  • Acoustic sensors (5)
  • Phenocams (3 above canopy)
  • Sap flow system
  • Soil water content, soil water potential, soil temperature sensors
  • COSMOS soil moisture sensor
  • Airborne LiDAR and hyperspectral datasets calibrated using SLATS star transects, leaf sampling, tree structure and LAI measurements
SuperSite Details
  • Vegetation type: Simple Notophyll Vine Forest
  • Elevation: ~700 m
  • Rainfall: ~2236 mm/yr
  • Mean Temperature: ~19.4°C
  • Soils: Acidic, dystrophic, brown dermosol, developed in alluvium

Site Research

Research using the Robson Creek Rainforest SuperSite aims to answer these key questions:
  • How are the biota (in particular locally endemic species) changing in form, frequency and distribution and what are the drivers for this?
  • 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?

The Robson Creek Rainforest SuperSite’s 25 ha vegetation survey plot has been set up for inclusion in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Center for Tropical Forest Science – Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO) global network of forest research plots. This network is dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity.

Site Partners

Research Publications

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