TERN's 'Ecosystem Surveillance Monitoring' is a plot-based surveillance monitoring program, undertaking baseline surveys of rangelands and tall eucalyptus forest ecosystems across Australia. The aim of AusPlots is to establish and maintain a national network of permanent plots to enable consistent ecological assessment and ongoing monitoring.
To achieve consistent ecological assessment across plots, standardised data collection methods were specifically developed for TERN's Ecosystem Surveillance Monitoring program.. Collectively these set of data collection methods are referred to as the 'AusPlots' methods. AusPlots methods were developed in collaboration with all ecosystem jurisdictions.
Rangelands include grasslands, shrublands, savannas, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. They are characterized by vast spaces, old (often infertile) soils, highly variable (often low) rainfall, diverse and variable plant & animal communities. Rangelands ecosystems cover 81% of the Australian continent. They are understudied; with studies typically conducted at local/regional-scale, and with no standardisation across studies.
Tall Eucalyptus Forests contain some of the most iconic Australian trees. The term 'eucalypt' includes three genera (Eucalyptus, Corymbia and Angophora) and approximately 900 species, in their vast majority native to Australia. Tall Eucalypt Forest consist of trees over 30m tall, some reaching heights over 100m. They include the tallest flowering plant in the world and tallest tree species in Australia, Eucalyptus regnans (mountain ash) endemic of Tasmania and Victoria.
The data collected in TERN's Ecosystem Surveillance Monitoring program can be integrated with existing knowledge and additional data to help scientists and land managers better understand and manage Australian ecosystems. Data integration is facilitated by the 'ausplotsR' R package.
'ausplotsR' is an R package that facilitates the extraction and preparation of AusPlots Rangelands data. Once the data are in the R environment it can be visualised, integrated with additional data, and analysed. It was developed by Greg Guerin and collaborators at TERN's Ecosystem Surveillance team. In currently includes six functions, one to extract live data and 5 to prepare the data for visualisation, integration, or analysis.