Project 3.1 'Rainforest Biodiversity'

Project 3.1 'Rainforest Biodiversity'

This project will provide detailed mapping of present and future biodiversity patterns and drivers, environmental and evolutionary refugia and a comprehensive assessment of the vulnerability and resilience of rainforest biodiversity in Australian tropical forests. The project team will use a combination of available knowledge, existing datasets and strategic research to inform adaptive strategies for promoting persistence of biodiversity. This knowledge will enable efficient spatial and temporal prioritisation of vulnerable species and threats to maximise the efficiency of management investment.

The project consists of four subprojects that will each deliver into appropriate program and NERP themes and address high priority research needs of the NERP program, stakeholder research gap analysis (GAP), Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA) and Terrain NRM:

Monitoring:  A comprehensive review of regional literature followed by extensive stakeholder consultation identified long-term monitoring data as the most important knowledge gap in the region.  This sub-project is aimed at maintaining and significantly improve a regional-scale, long-term environmental monitoring program that provides biodiversity and environmental data that has a demonstrated value to a wide range of research users.

Climate change vulnerability and adaptation:  Climate change is arguably the single largest threat to biodiversity in Australia and the unique biodiversity of the Wet Tropics rainforests is recognised as one of the most threatened ecosystems globally by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  This sub-project will build on previous and existing research to provide cutting-edge predictions on climate change impacts, vulnerability assessment and adaptation options for rainforest biodiversity.

Synthesis, analysis and integration – determinants of biodiversity:  An understanding of the drivers of biodiversity in the region is crucial to predicting impacts from a variety of threats and ensuring effective conservation planning and management that aims to maintain a resilient landscape. The project team will use data collected in elsewhere in the project in combination with their existing extensive vertebrate and invertebrate database to examine the drivers of biodiversity in the region and to provide the resources and knowledge to make this useful to stakeholders. 

Status, trends and future projections:  No practical measure currently exists to evaluate trends in biodiversity values at the ‘whole-of-region’ scale in near real-time on a regular, repeatable and affordable basis (WTMA Research Strategy 2010-2014). We will generate high resolution maps and landscape scale estimates of temporal trends in the condition of biodiversity and environmental changes. This will be the major vehicle for synthesizing, integrating and communicating data from all projects.

Project objectives at a glance

  • Detailed, and publicly available, mapping of past, current and future status and trends in biodiversity and the environment.
  • Increased understanding of the drivers of biodiversity that will inform evidence-based policy and management.
  • Comprehensive assessment of the relative vulnerability of the region’s biodiversity to global climate change.
  • Spatial and temporal prioritisation of the conservation status of most rainforest vertebrates, significant invertebrate groups, vegetation classes and ecosystem processes.
  • Provision of the necessary biodiversity data for systematic conservation planning in the region that accounts for global climate change. (link to Pressey project)
  • Significant regional capacity building and early career training.
  • Production of globally-leading research tools and expertise that will be exported nationally and internationally.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Final Report

Species resilience: the key to understanding biodiversity in the rainforests of the Australian Wet Tropics

Project Factsheet

Project Updates

See February 2012 Project Highlights here.


Link to the Project 3.1 homepage on e-Atlas



Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project People

Project Outputs