Ecosystem Function and Integration

Ecosystem Function and Integration

As our environments change, there are massive and widespread effects to whole ecosystems and how they function across large areas. In this theme we are looking at how ecosystems respond to changes such as reduced or increased rainfall, temperature and CO2 levels.

We explore how changes in climate, land use and cover affect the exchanges of carbon, nutrients, water, and energy. Using models, we integrate processes at scales ranging from leaf to globe.

Our research addresses key questions such as:

  • How will Australia's native plant species and ecosystems respond to climate warming, rising atmospheric concentrations of CO2, and altered rainfall patterns?
  • What are the consequences of biodiversity loss for carbon, water and nutrient cycling?

To answer these and other pressing questions, we use observations, experiments and integrative modeling. We use a wide range of experimental platforms and approaches to investigate ecosystem responses to changing environmental conditions.

Our mission is to advance knowledge of the impacts of global environmental change on native and managed terrestrial ecosystems, providing critical science-based information to land managers and policy makers.

The Cumberland Plains Observatory (including Eddy Flux Tower) quantifies the exchanges of water, carbon and energy in native Cumberland Plain woodland. We use EucFACE, a free-air CO2 enrichment experiment, to determine how a native eucalypt forest will respond to predicted increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

The Whole-Tree Chamber Facility and Rainout Shelters enable us to simulate climates of the future in order to understand the mechanisms driving changes at the plant, community and ecosystem level. These tools help us predict the effects of global change on the biological diversity, structure and function of ecosystems in Australia and beyond.


Ecosystem Function and Integration Theme Scientists

Position Name Keywords
Theme Leader Prof Mark Tjoelker Tree physiology, ecosystem ecology, climate change
Deputy Theme Leader A/Prof Sally Power Ecosystems ecology, global change impacts and biogeochemical cycling
Chief Scientist Prof Peter Reich Ecosystem ecology, biodiversity, scaling
Professor Prof David Ellsworth Photosynthesis, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration, eucalyptus
Professor Prof Belinda Medlyn Mathematical ecology, climate change modelling, experimental modelling
Associate Professor A/Prof Matthias Boer Fire ecology, ecohydrology, landscape ecology
Senior Lecturer Dr Remko Duursma Modelling vegetation function, forest hydrology, plant architecture, leaf gas exchange models
Research Fellow           Dr Mike AspinwallPlant physiology, genetic diversity, climate change        
Research Fellow          Dr Kristine Crous 
Research FellowDr Mingkai Jiang 
Research FellowDr Kashif Mahmud
Research FellowDr Agnieszka Wujeska-Klause