Professor Lindsay Hutley presents “From leaves to ecosystems: understanding the impacts and management of global change”.
Economic and population growth have rapidly increased since the 1950s, with feedback to the atmosphere, geosphere and biosphere now evident at global, regional and local scales. Ecosystems provide fundamental services such as food, fibre and clean water that sustain human societies, and scientists play a crucial role in providing policy makers and the public with a firm understanding of the global threats to ecosystem viability and how we might achieve more sustainable solutions. Ecosystems consist of interconnecting systems, and an understanding of the mechanistic processes of the basic organisation units (e.g. leaves) to responses of whole ecosystems to environmental change is needed.
This talk will focus on the research programs underway at Charles Darwin University’s Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods that aim to understand and predict the effects of these human impacts with a focus on North Australian ecosystems. These themes will be illustrated by describing the ecology, plant physiology and biogeochemicalcycles (e.g. carbon, water, nitrogen) that operate in North Australian ecosystems, in particular the vast savanna ecosystems. How will Northern landscapes change to increased climate variability or land use? Are they resilient and at what stage do we reach “tipping points”, where ecosystems may flip into another state?
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