Our key questions
Primarily TERN Ecosystem Surveillance aims to understand Australia's key environments by answering the following questions:
What? What species are occurring - Robust identification is key to our program
Where? Understanding what occurs Where is at the heart of ecology and so good quality location information and a stratification process to ensure our sites are located in a range of Australian environments is an important component of our work.
What condition is it in? Collecting information on biodiversity condition provides us with detailed objectively measured information of the state of Australia's key ecosystems.
How is it changing? Having a temporal aspect to our data collection allows no only baseline information, but information on the trajectory of key ecosystems through time to be determined.
What is causing this change? Our project is not primarily designed to address drivers of change, but in many circumstances will provide some insight into the cause of change, enabling hypothesis to be formed and more detailed studies to be implemented to test these hypothesis, often using site specific methods at a fine scale.
These fundamental building blocks, combined with robust standardised objective data collection, robust data management procedures and open access to data over a national scale to enable a huge array of research questions to be addressed. Some key questions that our data contribute to addressing are included below, we're keen to hear of many more and welcome collaborations to address them.
- Can we quantify the volume of carbon in Australia’s major vegetation communities and how is it changing through time?
- How do Australia’s vegetation communities vary in relation to climate and soil properties?
- How are Australia's vegetation communities likely to change as a result of climate change?
- How do different tenures/management practices influence the distribution/quality of vegetation communities and how does it vary through time?
- What areas/management interventions make particular land types resilient/susceptible to change?
- Can this impact/encourage sustainable development?
- What species occur in our plots that we don’t know about (new species) or we didn’t expect to occur there (range extensions)?
- Why are plant species distributed where they are and what environmental conditions cause genetic stress?
- How and where do fire/ferals/weeds most impact the Australian environment?
- Where are Australia’s most unique environments?
- Where are Australia’s biodiversity hot spots?
- How do we raise societies understanding/championing of environmental surveillance monitoring?
- How is Australian vegetation an expression of our ancient soils?
- Can Primary production occur whilst maintaining environmental function?
- Can we develop methods/systems to enhance/improve data collection?
- How accurate is our satellite image analysis?
- Do we understand the place of the Australian environment globally?
- What environmental information is needed to scale from global to national to regional to local environmental issues and can we help inform on these at appropriate scales?