About the Global Change Ecology Research Group - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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About the Global Change Ecology Research Group

USC’s Global Change Ecology Research Group focuses on fundamental and translational research relating to the impacts of anthropogenic change on biodiversity and ecosystems.

Together, our group has internationally recognised expertise in quantitative and computational ecology, bioinformatics, genetics and genomics, ornithology, animal ecology and behaviour, geospatial techniques and modelling, bioacoustics, conservation ecology, marine and fisheries ecology, physical geography and ecophysiology. We conduct multi-disciplinary research on:

  • ecological and genetic consequences of habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation on ecosystems (with a particular focus on fauna)
  • ecological consequences of climate change
  • animal adaptation to urbanisation (genetics, morphology and behaviour) and climate change
  • remote monitoring of ecosystem structure and function using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, satellite remote sensing, animal tracking and biologging, and other emerging technologies
  • conservation and restoration ecology
  • strategic adaptation of primary industries to climate-mediated ecosystem change
  • development of ecologically sustainable eco-tourism, wildlife and nature-based experiences
  • effective communication of science through outreach and public engagement in an era of increasing uncertainty.

We deliver research for, and in partnership with, a range of stakeholders including the Commonwealth Government, state and local agencies (e.g. CSIRO, Australian Fisheries Management Authority, QLD Department of Transport and Main Roads, QLD Department of Environment and Science), state and national museums (eg QLD, SA and Australian Museums), national and international conservation organisations (eg Australian Wildlife Conservancy, Bush Heritage Australia, WWF), and more than 25 national and international research institutions.

GCERG researcher also have the expertise to undertake or assist industry and offer consultancy services in the following areas: terrestrial survey and assessment of fauna, threatened species detection and management, genomic analysis (to determine disease presence, population bottlenecks, levels of inbreeding, effective population sizes, gene flow and genetic diversity of threatened species).

We have entered the Anthropocene, an era in which human transformation of the land and seascapes is so extensive that it is expected to leave clear signals in the geological record.

There is a trend toward urbanisation of growing populations worldwide, which drives land conversion to accommodate transportation, industry and associated infrastructure and services. Land-use and land-cover change directly impacts on biogeochemical cycles and modifies hydrological systems, which together alter entire ecosystems, resulting in significant and long-term biodiversity loss. These factors combined put us at the threshold of the sixth global mass extinction event.

Anthropogenic climate change, for instance, is one of the emergent phenomena of the current era, exceeding in both pace and magnitude the natural patterns of climate change experienced on Earth, at least since modern humans evolved as a species. Climate change not only challenges human society at a global scale, but also biodiversity: the impacts of climate change have already been observed in at least 80% of all ecological processes, globally.

The Global Change Ecology Research Group brings together high-performing and passionate researchers with complementary expertise to pursue research of fundamental scientific importance with international significance, and which has applied local and national impact in the context of these global challenges.

Our researchers also support the delivery of high-quality, research-linked learning opportunities for undergraduate and honours students. By providing streamlined opportunities for these students to undertake fieldwork and research projects, we facilitate engaging, authentic, hands-on blended learning experiences.

For post-graduates, our research group is genuinely collegial, and offers interdisciplinary research pathways, guided by world-class and cohesive supervisory teams.

The GCERG welcomes membership applications from research-active academics at USC, whose research addresses the group’s key themes.