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Global Change Biology

Climate change is now considered the most significant threat to global biodiversity and human well-being and a significant threat to Australia’s economy. Climate change has the potential to greatly impact on the natural environment, ecosystem services like clean water and the billions of dollars per year in ecotourism based on our natural world-heritage ecosystems like the Wet Tropcs rainforests and Great Barrier Reef.

The CTBCC now has a globally-recognised reputation within the field of global change biology and some of our earlier publications in the field have had a seminal influence on the field both within Australia and internationally. We have, and continue, to utilise the vast potential of the Wet Tropics rainforests as a “learning landscape” to increase our understanding of the patterns and processes underlying tropical biodiversity and how future climate change may impact natural ecosystems.

Our research aims to address knowledge gaps that will increase our regional, national and international capacity to respond to the pressing issue of contemporary global climate change.

More specifically our research focuses on:

  • developing predictions of impacts and extinction risk based on detailed knowledge of species ecology, physiology, genetics and sophisticated spatial modeling and projections of future climates and variability:  including an understanding of the impacts of not only temperature increases but also  factors such as seasonality, invasive species and extreme weather events (eg. heat waves) that are predicted to increase with climate change;
  • identifying potential refugia to projected climate change at a variety of spatial and temporal scales -  from epiphytes to large-scale areas of climatic stability and buffering potential from minutes to millennia;
  • quantifying ecosystem processes such as forest productivity and nutrient cycling that are likely to be altered under future climates with flow-on impacts on species and ecosystem resilience;
  • monitoring changes in species distributions, assemblages, habitat and microclimate across the Wet Tropics bioregion to provide the information resources needed for informed management of natural resources in the region;
  • providing knowledge for regional and national management and policy organisation (regional/state/national) with the information and expertise to provide informed management prioritisation and adaptation option to the impacts of global climate change.

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Meet the team

Team Leader:

Prof. Steve Williams

Research Team