As Arctic sea ice hits a record low, focus is turning to climate 'tipping points' - a threshold that, once crossed, cannot be reversed and will create fundamental changes to other areas.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Biodiversity is an essential part of our life support system. We rely on biologically diverse ecosystems for sustainable food production. Stable biodiverse ecosystems are essential for collecting drinking water, for removing contaminants from our water and air, for overcoming problems associated with salinity and erosion, and for influencing our local climate. Many of our economic activities involving tourism, leisure, agriculture and forestry depend on biodiversity. Our cultural values are often tied to animals and plants that can only exist within ecologically diverse landscapes.
Yet urbanisation has meant that people are increasingly disconnected from biodiversity and often have little appreciation for the role it plays in their lives. Currently biodiversity and the many forms of life that comprise it are increasingly threatened by our activities. Climate change is starting to alter the distribution of many plants and animals, urban sprawl is encroaching on threatened vegetation communities, and increasing global trade and travel is bringing unwanted organisms into our environment.
The biodiversity and conservation theme explores the connection between biodiversity and society. It encompasses three topics; Pests and Invasive Species; Threatened Species and Habitats; and Ecosystem Processes and Services. It integrates world-leading expertise across the University to provide an understanding of how environmental change (particularly climate change but also population pressures) is likely to affect our biodiversity assets, and how best to manage these impacts and engage the wider community to preserve biodiversity.
Research will aim to foster interdisciplinary synergies across the biological and physical sciences including climate science, conservation management, decision support, ecology and sustainable agriculture. We will engage people and government in biodiversity issues and develop resources for research, monitoring and education.
In 2011 participants developed an environmental data resource for Australia that will provide unique capacity for analysing, forecasting and managing the effects of environmental change on plants and animals.