TERN Ecosystem Research Infrastructure

TERN is Australia’s national land ecosystem observatory. We measure key terrestrial ecosystem attributes over time from continental scale to field sites at hundreds of representative locations, and openly provide model-ready data that enables researchers to detect and interpret changes in land ecosystems.

TERN member in Dry Creek

The TERN observatory is structured around three key scales of observation:

  • Landscapes (continental)
  • Ecosystem surveillance (regional)
  • Ecosystem processes (local)

Ecosystem surveillance - TERN’s plot-based field monitoring program - is based at our Waite Campus. As the TERN ecosystem surveillance team, we conduct field surveys and collect soil and vegetation across a national network of plots. We transect to provide the data, samples, tools and advice needed for improved monitoring and assessment of Australia’s major ecosystems. Through consistent ecological assessment and ongoing monitoring, we track the direction and magnitude of change in Australia’s environments over time. This helps scientists and land managers to better detect and quantify change in vegetation structure and composition, land cover and soil characteristics.  

National research infrastructure 

TERN members colleting soil samples

TERN is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). NCRIS facilitates research infrastructure – the platforms, data and tools for targeted research. TERN ecosystem surveillance achieves this by delivering a wide range of freely available ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ infrastructure that is valuable for researchers and land managers, including: 

  • Scientific protocols and methods 
  • Samples and specimens 
  • Data 
  • Monitoring and detection 
  • Photo methods and image library 
  • Custom-built field survey apps 
  • Training and advice 

TERN partnerships 

Our TERN ecosystem surveillance team develops innovative scientific tools and monitoring strategies, creates and delivers robust environmental datasets, and shares our services, data, and samples with researchers around the world.

We collaborate with community, industry and academic partners across a diverse range of sectors and projects to provide high-quality information, resources, and analysis for informed management decisions and to support future research in a wide range of fields.

TERN assists government, not-for-profit organisations and businesses to develop environmental monitoring techniques, ranging from survey methods to customised apps and data delivery.

TERN staff are skilled in scientific communication, community engagement and citizen science and provide expert technical advice on ecosystem monitoring to a variety of stakeholders.