Across land and sea - thinking outside the box in the fight against climate change

17 June 2020

What do reef corals and eucalypt tree eco-systems have in common? They are both on the ‘frontline’ when it comes to climate change impacts.

Researchers at Museum of Tropical Queensland and CSIRO have joined forces to share knowledge, learn and compare how these species each respond to climate change. The collaboration is detailed in a newly paper published on WIREs – a reference and review journal publication.

Museum of Tropical Queensland marine biologist and Collections Manager, Corals Dr Paul Muir said, eucalypt trees and reef corals surprisingly share some similarities in biology and ecology, particularly in their response to climate change.

“When we think about it, corals are the most plant-like animals on the planet as most of their energy requirements come from photosynthesis, and in recent times, both the forests and reefs have sustained heavy damage from climate-related events, namely catastrophic bushfires and bleaching along the Great Barrier Reef,” Dr Muir said.

“More research is now being undertaken into how reefs and forests are characterised and responding to climate change, and how sharing these findings and experiences can benefit both fields.”

CSIRO Land and Water Honorary Fellow, Dr Trevor Booth said four key areas involving reefs and forests have been compared including species distributions, assessing impacts of climate change on future distributions, human-assisted migration to improve survival and applying genetic enhancement to improve the species’ survival.

“CSIRO and the museum are both interested in exploring and better understanding the impacts of environmental change on both terrestrial and marine organisms and the ecosystems in which they occur.”

Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said cross collaboration between researchers is critical to understanding the natural world and the threats it faces.

“Partnering with other research organisations is a fundamental part of our research strategy, not only at Museum of Tropical Queensland but across the entire Queensland Museum Network,” Dr Thompson said.

View the paper “Climate change impacts on Australia’s eucalypt and coral species: comparing and sharing knowledge across disciplines” on WIREs Climate Change.

Further information about the research collaboration is also featured on CSIRO’s research website ECOS.

Media Contact:

Andrea Hughes, Museum of Tropical Queensland P: (07) 4726 0604 or M: 0497 347 117