Australian Transect Network

A transect is a line along which measurements are made and help understand ecological and species distribution changes from one location to another. In addition, large-scale transects are powerful tools for addressing key knowledge needs because they facilitate the study of ecological structure and processes over major biophysical gradients. Thus, transects can be used to help develop, calibrate and validate ecological models and remote sensing products for an enhanced understanding of controls on ecosystem structure and function.

The Australian Transect Network (ATN) is one of TERN’s (Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network) facilities monitoring ecological changes along 4 sub-continental transects.

The ATN transects,

  • the North Australian Tropical Transect in the Northern Territories
  • the Terrestrial Ecosystems component of the Transects for Environmental Decision-making in South Australia,
  • the South-Western Australian Transitional Transect in Western Australia, and
  • the Biological Adaptation Transect Sydney (Associate Transect)

are, with exception of the Associate Transect, more than 600 km long and have multiple measurement points. All transects are located in areas where ecological knowledge was so far lacking.

Australian Transect Network1

Location of the four major transects that make up the Australian Transect Network. NATT-North Australian Tropical Transect, SWATT-South-Western Australian Transitional Transect, TREND-Terrestrial Ecosystems component of the Transects for Environmental Decision-making, BATS-Biological Adaptation Transect Sydney.

The installation of the above mentioned transects intends to answer questions in relation to the following key research areas:

  • How do species abundances, species composition, species richness and ecological function change along large-scale environmental gradients?
  • Can environmental thresholds be identified where there are abrupt changes in species abundances, species composition, species richness or ecological function?
  • Is there predictable variation in ecosystem resilience?
  • To what extent can ecosystem resilience be predicted on the basis of rainfall, temperature and soil type?
  • How might ecosystems respond to climate change?

For more information on the individual transects, news and information on the smaller-scale transects of the Long Term Ecological Research Network (LTERN) visit the TERN's ATN website.