Australian Mountain Research Facility (AMRF)
AMRF is a multidisciplinary consortium of expert scientists and land managers seeking to improve the resiliency of alpine plants, soils, communities and ecological processes to global change. The project includes a suite of environmental monitoring instruments and climate manipulation experiments in high elevation systems throughout NSW, VIC, ACT and TAS.
AMRF automated monitoring stations have been specifically designed to couple micrometeorological and biological measurements throughout the critical zone. This approach enables the measurement of ecosystem-level carbon and water vapour fluxes as well as soil and leaf-level parameters at high temporal and spatial resolution. Phenocams provide imagery for assessment of plant stress, phenology, and snow depth and cover. Data are automatically transmitted to cloud-based storage.
Manipulation experiments controlling temperature and precipitation are co-located with the monitoring stations to couple long-term monitoring with experimental control of plant and soil microclimate. Similarly, the experimental manipulation of water flow and temperature in an alpine stream permits study of global change impacts on aquatic organisms and processes.
We are actively seeking collaborators and students. For more information or contact details, visit AMRF.org.au.
Life on the Edge
Of all the climatic factors determining species distributions, temperature is arguably the most important. It is extremes – rather than averages – that drive species evolution. So, it is concerning that although extreme temperature events are increasing in frequency and intensity, little is known about the breadth of thermal tolerance of plants from extreme environments.
This project will provide critical data on the physiological tolerances of nearly 50 Australian native species from a wide range of alpine and desert threatened ecological communities and will highlight within-species variation in those tolerances. By including both sensitive and community dominant species the work will not only provide predictive power for developing models but also specific insight for a broad range of species that will be directly applicable to decisions about on-ground management programs and potentially translocation projects.
The living on the edge (LOTE) project draw on expert knowledge of researchers and managers and apply cutting edge field and experimental assays to determine alpine and desert species’ current thermal tolerance ranges and thus predict species vulnerability under climate change.
Drivers of response to climate change in a vulnerable alpine community
The Australian alpine environment is warming quickly, precipitation is decreasing, and snowpack and snowmelt dynamics are changing. This project will use lab and field experiments to investigate the effects of both warming and drying of the alpine environment on communities of soil invertebrates and small plants.
We will determine what drives the changes in alpine community structure, diversity, and abundance due to simulated climate change conditions. This project will also examine the phenotypic plasticity and evolution of thermal tolerance and life-history traits in two key species exposed to both average warming and drying along with simulated extreme events such as heatwaves and cold snaps.
This will leverage AMRF facilities and sensors to monitor conditions for entire communities of species in the field, experimental evolution experiments will be conducted in glasshouses and growth chambers, and we will incorporate these data into better predictive models.
We are actively seeking PhD students. For more information, contact Adrienne or Piet.