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The facilities here at the Desert Park and at Owen Springs
The Training Team
Ben Sparrow –AusPlots Director
Richard Flitton–AusPlots Field Team –Soils Lead
Emrys J Leitch -AusPlots Field Team –Vegetation lead
Christina Pahl –AusPlots Data Curator
Finn Hutchings –AusPlots Field Officer
Sally O’Neill –AusPlots NERP Fauna Lead
Dominic Wundke –AusPlots NERP Condition Officer.
Andrew Tokmakoff –AusPlots Technical Lead
The Eco-informatics team
About Our Method
•Practicality/pragmatism has had to prevail
•“It’s not about developing the perfect method, but rather understanding how imperfect the method is.”
•We would prefer to present the formal training (days) regarding the method “as is”.... If you have any ideas or concerns we would be happy to hear/ discuss them each evening
Modularity of Method
•The method has been designed in modules
•Ease of use in the field
•For your own purposes (not AusPlots funded) there is the possibility of only including some modules
•For AusPlots and training purposes we will cover all modules
•Extra modules are likely to be developed in the future and will be covered later in the training
Developed initially for rangelands –Now expanding to other regions.
“It’s not about compatible method, but rather compatible data.”
Eg. Wheelpointv steppointv method as used here
Eg. Canon vsNikon
Let’s work together to ensure data compatibility
Structure of each Day
7:20 amSummary of day
8:00 amLeave homestead
8:30 amArrive at field sites
10:30 amMorning tea
11:00 am Field Training
12:30 amLunch on Site
1:15 pmField Training
3:00 pmArvo tea
3:30 pmField Training
5:30 pmReturn to Homestead
8:00 pm +Free time/ informal discussions on method
Today –5 Theory Sessions
2ndsession -Stratification, Data uses, Manual, Permissions
3rdsession -Plot layout, Site info, Point Intercept, Basal Wedge, Structural summary
4thSession -Vouchering, Fauna, Photopoints
5thSession -Soils, LAI, Slats, The App
Two Methods of learning: Two sides to the one coin
Learning about the same method, but learning in different ways –Both ways present issues/ consideration that are not covered by the other way.
AusPlotsSurvey Method TrainingSession 1
October 5th–8th–Alice Springs / Owen Springs NT
firstname.lastname@example.org: 08 8313 1201
Setting the Scene: A series of short presentations to provide context
AusCover, EMAST, Soils, OzFlux, ACEAS, Coast, Comms
Australia’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network: Supporting Ecosystem Science and Management
By: Professors Stuart Phinn and Andrew Lowe
TERN -Associate Science Directors
+ Prof Tim Clancy, Dr Suzanne Long, Dr Bek Christensen, Dr Siddeswara Guru
+TERN Facility Directors
Robson CkSupersite Sept.2012 –Source S.Long
•TERN’s Vision is for an Australian ecosystem science community that has undergone transformational change -from one in which effort is frequently fragmented, duplicative and short-term, to one that is national, networked, and delivering for Australia’s future.
• Uses for collaborative research infrastructure, TERN’s approach
Integration and Synthesis
•Australian ecosystems and ecosystem data collection
Sources: NASA, Geosciences Australia, Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO
Mean Annual Run-off
•TERN provides “infrastructure” to enable development of a sustainable network of peopleand ecosystem data collection, discoveryand sharingsystems for advancing ecosystem science and management in Australia.
•Ecosystem science research cycle(s)
Data + meta-data,
new data and
Enables large scale and coordinated data collection, sharing and multiple re-uses
Enhanced ability to revise, question and expand knowledge
Knowledge gap: research questions
Proposal and planning
Data collection, verification, quality assurance and control
•TERN’s impact on research data sharing –helping change
•Facility data storage portals –discipline relevant support
•Data and meta-entry tools and protocols
•TERN Licences and Licensing Framework
•Links to national research data catalogue
•International standard Digital Object
•Replicable, extendable and scale-able model for data storage and publishing
Current ecosystem science and management challenges
•Lack of accessible mechanisms for inter-linking science and policy at all levels of government?
•Assured funding for pure and applied research –at sufficient levels and on a sustainable basis
•Lack of a defined ecosystem science community and lobby
•Lack of a coordinated, longer term, strategic vision for ecosystem research in Australia
Source: Longstaff, B.J., T.J.B. Carruthers, W.C. Dennison, T.R. Lookingbill, J.M. Hawkey, J.E. Thomas, E.C. Wicks, and J. Woerner(eds)
Integrating and applying science: A handbook for effective coastal ecosystem assessment. IAN Press, Cambridge, Maryland.U.S.A.,
Essential Data Collection, Analysis, Modelling and Synthesis
•Establish ecosystem variables collected through TERN
TERN is supported by the Australian Government through
the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy
and the Super Science Initiative
To integrate key established plot networks across Australia to tackle critical questions associated with the impacts of disturbance on Australian ecosystems
A sustainable set of long-term data collection procedures and archives from plots across Australian ecosystems measuring selected flora, fauna and biophysical processes
The design of the plots and data collection procedures provides infrastructure to allow the research community to:
Develop a detailed understanding of key ecosystem functions and processes, over decadal periods from plot to landscape scales
Quantify critical relationships between vegetation condition and/or biodiversity and major disturbance regimes such as those associated with fire, logging, livestock grazing, invasive species, extreme weather events, and their interactions with climate change
Contributions to TERN’s overall mission to date
Transforming Australian ecosystem science: TERN will provide the infrastructure and networks to underpin a
coordinated, collaborative ecosystem science community that is delivering for Australia’s ecosystem scientists,
managers and decision-makers.
1.The creation of a harmonious and productive network –established culture of trust and reciprocity
2.Strategic foundational planning, recruitment and business processes
In October 2013 the LTERN Data Portal went live on the National Server Program hosted by NeCTAR.
Process & Documentation
5.Synthesis and communication of knowledge to researchers, policy-makers and the general public
Planned contributions to TERN’s mission in 2014
Priority areas for LTERN are: (1) data collection; (2) data
management and publication; and (3) the synthesis and
communication of knowledge to researchers, policy-makers and
the general public.
•Ongoing publication of data through the LTERN portal
•Design and initiation of the book data publication project
•Delivery of the statistical review of terrestrial plot networks within TERN
•Ecosystem Assessments papers in a special edition of Austral Ecology
•Updated Publications Catalogue
•Lessons and Insights booklet
•Joint group scientific paper –the ‘2050 paper’
•Implementation of the Affiliate Scholar model
•Public version of the conceptual design document
Risks and opportunities for the Facility and/or TERN as a whole
•Lack of data delivery during EIF undermining refunding potential
•Loss of staff due to burn-out and funding uncertainty
•Continued under-resourcing leading to a destabilisation of current culture
•A non-data collection focussed model resulting in a dismantling of LTERN
•A lack of ‘meeting of the minds’ re data publishing leading to a dismantling of LTERN
over selling leading to an inability to deliver
too big and ambitious to be coherent and sustainable.
•To protect and nourish what we have created
•To form linkages with other Facilities through ‘proof of concept’ projects – Biomass paper, Google project, and E-Mast collaborations re climate profiles for LTERN sites
•Form tangible international linkages -IUCN RLE process, Bates et al Biodiversity dynamics: meta-analysis
Critical next steps
•Deliver on EIF promises
•Provision of Project Data by 30 June (or seek a contract variation)
•2013-2014 Financial Year Update Report due 15 July
•TERN Final EIF Report 30 September 2014
•Deliver statistical review on 1 August 2014
•Negotiate and execute NCRIS contracts
•Stabilise the data portal team
•Reflect, adapt, and plan
•Bid preparation for NCRIS 15-16 funding
•Publish the Monitoring Insights Booklet
By June 2015
•Deliver on NCRIS promises (i.e. Scope of Works) and then some if time and energy permits….
A new approach to intensive ecosystem research: introducing the Australian SuperSite Network
How do key ecosystems respond to environmental change?
Science questions to inform large scale environmental management/policy:
Some questions are best answered by using anetwork
•Do contrasting ecosystems differ in their vulnerability to extreme weather events such as droughts and heat-waves?
•Can ‘tipping points’ be identified and do those tipping points differ among contrasting environments?
Science questions to inform local environmental management:
Some questions have specific importance to stakeholders involved in the Supersite
•Forestry management approaches in Tasmania
•Carbon farming strategies in the Northern Territory
•Climate resilient restoration of Western Australian wheat belt
A collaborativeNetwork approach
Consistent monitoring protocols -AusCover, AusPlots, Soils, Coastal Facilities
Each SuperSite hosts a flux tower -OzFluxData collated across spatial & temporal scales -used for modelling eMAST
TERN consistent data delivery
Data discoverable through the TERN Data Portal and SuperSites portal
Alice Mulga SuperSite
"How does climate variability affect vegetation water-use and groundwater recharge in an arid-zone Acacia savanna woodland"
Alice Mulga SuperSite
1)Alice Mulga node
•OzFluxtowers (2) operational
•AusCover campaign completed
•Hydrology -large number of bores and nested peizometers
•Sapflowsensors and loggers
The Australian Transect Network
Stefan Caddy-Retalicand Ian Fox
•Climatic, fire, altitude, oceanic, disturbance
•Space as a proxy for time
•Core parameters (cfAusPlots)
Major research infrastructure program for Australia
>$55M funding + considerable institution support
University of Queensland, University of Adelaide,
CSIRO, ANU, Macquarie University, JCU +
Driving Science Questions
1.How do species abundances, species composition, species richness and ecological function change along large-scale environmental gradients?
2.Is there predictable variation in ecosystem resilience?
3.How might ecosystems respond to climate change?
•What information to land managers need to ensure species have the best opportunity to adapt in a changing environment?
•Where are the important areas for native species (e.g. refugia)?
•What will ecosystems look like in the future?
•Will we see novel ecosystems develop?
Australian Transect Network
Spinifex Hummock Grassland
North Australian Tropical Transect
South West Australian Transitional Transect
Biodiversity and Adaptation Transect Sydney
TRansect for ENvironmental monitoring and Decision making
Eucalypt Open Woodland
•9 sites in 6 bioregions
•40 sites in 6 bioregions
•35 sites in 3 bioregions
•More surveys planned
Prof Alan Andersen, CSIRO
Subcontinental‐scale transects for assessing and monitoring ecological change in Australia
Northern Australian Tropical Transect (NATT)
South West Australian Transitional Transect (SWATT)
Stephen van Leeuwen and Margaret Byrne, WA DPaW
Transect from Walpole to Credo Station to Lorna Glen
•10 sites along the transect
Transect for Environmental Monitoring and Decision-making
Mean Annual Maximum Temperature
Annual Rainfall Contours (100 mm)
!( Terrestrial Ecosystem Monitoring Sites
Vegetation turn-over quantified
Guerin & Lowe EMAS 2012
Guerin et al. 2013
What is AusPlots-Forests
•originally conceived to build upon collaboration between the UTasand ABARES
•collated and analysed a large number of existing State based Permanent Forestry Plots.
•The original concept was for Ausplots-Forests to remeasure a subset of this existing plot network (n=200)
•the scope and the design of Ausplots-Forests has been flexible.
•not limited to remeasuring the existing permanent plot infrastructure.
•establish a plot-based monitoring network that improves understanding of tree growth, forest productivity and carbon dynamics research and,
•and build upon existing plot networks where possible.
The Scope of Ausplots-Forests
•beyond scope of Ausplots-Forests to provide a comprehensive forest monitoring framework (i.e. Continental Forest Monitoring Framework).
•TERN and Auplots-Forests was not established to answer specific research questions provide flexible baseline infrastructure
•vision for Ausplots-Forests is to incorporate aspects of both ‘surveillance’ and ‘question driven monitoring’.
•Does not collect biodiversity information at this stage.
•They extend the macro-climatic gradients and bioregions across the continent.
•Plot data show that growth trends related to trends in mean annual temperature, rainfall seasonality and mean annual rainfall.
•TEF are fire-driven ecosystems and plots in these systems provides an opportunity for post-fire response studies,
•TEF an important component of forest carbon store and contain some of the most carbon dense stands.
Why Tall Eucalypt Forests (TEF)?
•TEF are valued as water catchments, flora & conservation, recreation and timber and fibre production.
•TEF are the focus of many forest research initiatives (i.e. Warra Supersite, ForestCheck).
Why Tall Eucalypt Forests (TEF)?
Three design scenarios within the TEF considered:
1.Grid-based design e.gCFMF and FPMRIS
2.Stratified clusters of new or existing plots: many small plots.
3.Clusters of few (n=50), large (1.0ha) plots across Tall Open Eucalypt Forest Estate
No 3 is preferred
-based upon the RAINFOR forest plot network
•Allocate 8-10 plots to each state
•Target locations that are relatively undisturbed by timber harvesting (‘BOO’ sites)
•Target either (a) mature forests only (>60 year since fire)
•Co-locate with well curatedexisting permanent growth plots or ongoing research sites
•Target sites long-term plot security. e.g. reserves
•Species, status , location and DBH of all trees >10cm DBH (all tagged). These trees must be tagged.
•Species, status and DBH of seedlings and saplings
•Floristics and voucher specimens
•Coarse woody debris transects
Objectives of AusPlots-Rangelands
National network of surveillance and ecosystem baseline assessment sites
Developing standardisedplot assessment methods to be used for measuring and sampling vegetation and soils, and
Developing and implementing a stratification process to decide the locations of plots, which is applicable at a continental scale, and
Establish permanent plots (approximately 750) throughout the Australian range- land bioregions where baseline surveys of vegetation and soils will be conducted
Implementing the plot assessment methods developed for measuring and sampling vegetation and soils
-in the locations decided, and
-analysingthe samples collected, and
Storing the data and making it freely available
81% of Australia
Wide variety of environments
Wide climatic variation
Generally Data poor / gaps
(= running total)
Many Universities 4(9)
Departments per Jurisdiction 2(18)
Sections per Department 2 (36)
People per Section need to be involved 3(108)
AusPlots–R Protocols and Standards Reference Group 15 (123)
Partnerships and Operations Ref Gp13(136)
+ Auscoverand TERN Soils 2x3 (142)
+ Conservation based NGOs 20 (162)
+ ESA 30 (192)
+ National committees 4x10 (232)
Federal departments 2x2x4(248)
+ Short Timeline (Completed by mid/late 2013..... ARGHHHHH!)
That’s a heap of people to keep happy in a really short Time
A surveillance monitoring program for rangeland Australia
And the AusPlots team
AusPlots is a Surveillance monitoring Program for Australia that:
•informs on stocks of key ecosystem attributes
•addressed rangeland knowledge gaps
•provides Baseline information for Australia
•aims to repeat measures –once is not enough
•uses consistent methods across jurisdictions
•that will help inform on some of our great challenges:
•distribution of species
How is it achieved?
Extensive Networking / Collaboration / input to the process
Engage with Agricultural, Environmental, Forestry communities as well as NGO’s – Input from all Rangeland States and Territories
•Based in Adelaide
•Best way to use scarce resources – Would prefer to have state based teams in the future if funding allowed.
•Can train others
•Work in conjunction with state agencies where possible.
Another 100 Plots across the rangelands
Continued collaboration with other facilities
Rapid Field measures
Data and sample provision
Ausplotsprovides a common thread through these facilities
AusPlots Trial on the Tibetan plateau
Interactions with similar programs in the EU and UK
Representation on ILTER
Bringing ecological data together for re-use
Presentation thanks to Andrew Graham
Eco-informatics Objectives (NCRIS)
2. Form sustainable data sharing and access partnerships
3. Integrate key
ecological datasets nationally for consistent re-use
4. Provide single ‘point of access’ to ecological data
5. Provide an integrated infrastructure to support researcher data submission
1. Develop standards and a national framework for managing ecological data
Key Challenges in Managing Ecosystem Data
Observation Data Capture Form
Observation & measurement process
Data storage and expression
ÆKOS Operating Model
Mapping Script (ETL DSL)
Periodic data refresh
ÆKOS provides ETL (Extract-Transform-Load)to extract, map, contextualise and index provider data.
For more information on ÆKOS and the Eco-informatics Facility
please get in touch with:
Craig Walker -Eco-informatics Coordinator
P: (08) 8313 1139 M: 0408 813 104