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Understanding Biodiversity

The research strength of Understanding Biodiversity include two areas of research focus 1. Understanding Evolutionary Processes and 2. Describing and Documenting Biodiversity. These are further explained below:

1. Understanding Evolutionary Processes
Understanding how organisms evolve is not only of intrinsic interest, but essential for effective biodiversity management for the future.
Organisms live in a complex world, both in terms of their physical environment and the species they interact with. This is particularly true in the tropics, where greater numbers of species call the tropics home than anywhere else in the world, and extremes in temperature and rainfall occur across landscapes and seasons.
The world’s tropical environments are experiencing unprecedented pressure through population increase, climate change, invasive species, etc. Understanding the resilience of species and ecological communities relies on understanding:
•    how organisms make a living in their environment (e.g. physiology, behaviour)
•    how species interact and co-evolve with each other (e.g. through predation, herbivory, pollination, mutualisms and competition)
•    how populations respond and adapt to changes in their environment (e.g. climate change, habitat degradation, and invasive species)

2. Describing and Documenting Biodiversity
An understanding of the nature of biodiversity must begin with an understanding of its basic units: how many species are there, where do they occur and how are they related? This theme of the CTBCC focuses on biodiversity patterns and includes topics such as:
•    species discovery and classification
•    description of geographical patterns of biodiversity; species richness, endemism and other measures
•    drivers of these patterns in a current (ecological) and historical (evolutionary) contexts
•    speciation processes that generate biodiversity

The tropics harbour much of the world’s biodiversity and much remains to be understood regarding the origins and maintenance of this biodiversity. With several tropical campuses and access to a rich array of tropical environments, JCU is ideally situated to tackle these questions. The CTBCC is the focus of these efforts.

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Team Leader

Pr. Darren Crayn


Research Team: