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Environmental Futures Network

The University of Adelaide Australia

ARC Research Network

Discovering the past and present to shape the future: networking environmental sciences for understanding and managing Australian biodiversity (Environmental Futures Network)

This network was a 5 year ARC funded program (2005-2010) aimed to bring together specialists with a wide range of research interests, to pool their ideas and expertise to allow us to detemine how to best describe Australia's current biodiversity and the history leading up to this. Our geographical limit is the Australian continent, and includes marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments with a strong focus on using the past to explain the present.

The network was based around three main themes: The impact on biodivesity of -

  • global climate change, past and future
  • geo-historical (non-climatic) processes
  • the arrival and spread of humans

The Network aimed to interact directly with land managers to both inform research directions and to impart useful information for management planning. We believe this will lead to an internationally recongnised multi-disciplinary approach to the major problems confronting both Australia and the world in coming years.

This network is the result of the merger of four seed-funded networks with the following titles:

  1. Understanding the Australian Ecosystem: integrating contemporary and historical perspectives on the evolution, ecology and management of Australia's living resources
  2. Innovative science for sustainable use of marine biodiversity goods and services
  3. Sustainable Futures through understanding past human responses to environmental change
  4. Networking environmental science to achieve integrated management of Australian terrestrial biodiversity in an era of environmental change

The Network filed its last Annual Report March, 2010 and concluded operation in early 2011. For any queries relating to this Network or information found on this website, you can email here.

Network funded projects in a snapshot:
  • Assembling a plant fossil record database from paper journal source to an on-line resource. This will include all Cenozoic plant macrofossil records from Australia in the first instance and may then be expanded to include New Zealand and the Cretaceous records.
  • Development of a symposia on plant systematics and evoltuion to feature in the International Botanical Congress program 2011.
  • An interactive identification guide to Australian invertebrates for students, ecologists, and environmental agencies and assessment companies.
  • SahulTime: An Interactive Exploration of Australia's Cultural and Natural History. SahulTime offers innovative ways to explore temporal data encompassing several discipline areas of study using a web browser, similar to the GoogleEarth interface. For highlights of this project follow this link
  • Development of tools to extend biodiversity scenarios to climate change impacts scenarios and establish a new global 'biodiversity observation network' (GEO BON)
  • Enhance end-user collaborations (such as Dept of Conservation and Biota Pty Ltd) via an on-line dtatbase resulting from outcomes of an earlier Network funded project that integrated various research efforts on short-range endemic taxa for arid regions in Australia.
  • Investigating Australia's past depositional regimes by accessing intact sedimentary sections (or core samples) to search for fossils as a result of the mining expansion in southern Australia. This will result in a web resource highlighting new fossil locations and potential for future research opportunities and industry partnerships.