Ecosystem Science

Ecosystem science contributes to our understanding of the biosphere using study of the environment and the interactions of plants, animals and other organisms with their environments. It spans terrestrial, freshwater, coastal, marine and atmospheric ecosystems and draws on disciplines from the physical and life sciences that contribute knowledge relevant to policy and management.

Ecosystem science delivers many benefits for Australia. For example, ecophysiology informs production of food crops, fibre and timber. Population dynamics underpins programs for pest control, fisheries, wildlife management and conservation. Biogeochemistry is a basis for tracking carbon storage, managing wildfire fuel, maintaining soil health, food security and water yields, and reducing erosion, nutrient runoff and algal blooms.

A strong and sustainable Australian ecosystem science enterprise is vital for understanding and securing our ecosystems in the face of unprecedented climate and the challenges we encounter in the future.

Ecosystem science includes any science that contributes to our understanding and management of ecosystems

Australia’s many ecosystems

Australian ecosystems encompass landscapes, coasts and marine areas, the living things that occupy them, their water, soils and atmosphere, and the dynamic interactions among all of these parts. Ecosystems occupy natural, agricultural and urban settings. They provide the environments where we live, play and work; the settings for our industry, agriculture, fisheries, tourism and resource extraction; and the distinctive flora and fauna that characterise the Australian continent.

Australia has a proud history in ecosystem science.

Australia was the fifth-ranked nation worldwide in Ecology and Environment for total citation influence 2003-132. Eight Australian universities were rated ‘well above world standard’ in ecology, ecological applications, or environmental science and management through the national research excellence assessment (ERA) in 2012. Within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), environment and ecology is one of the four highest-ranked areas of publication impact.

Ecosystem science draws on a large number of disciplines

Read more about ecosystem science in Australia in our long-term national plan or listen to ABC interview