In Australia team members will take part in firsthand investigations of the tropical land and seascapes of far North Queensland. This region is of national and international significance since due to its high proportion of Australia’s unique and threatened ecosystems and wildlife. We will study the stunning ecological diversity of the tropical north, from the inland savannah to the coastal rainforests of the "Wet Tropics," to the famed Great Barrier Reef marine ecosystem. We will examine on-site the fascinating natural history and biogeography of this region, where 45 million years of isolation have supported the existence and evolution of species found nowhere else on Earth. Together we will investigate national parks, indigenous and marine protected areas, and privately owned lands to study the ecology, conservation, and management of ecosystems and threatened wildlife and plant populations, within changing social-cultural contexts and a regressive political climate.
Alongside its distinctive evolutionary history, the region has been the home of Indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years. The combination of rich scientific and traditional ecological knowledge in this region of Australia makes it the perfect setting to immerse ourselves in field-based learning. From intact wilderness and World Heritage areas to landscapes with a legacy of agriculture and mining, we will research the challenges and successes of conservation in a nation struggling to maintain environmental protection in the face of sustained economic prosperity. We will encounter diverse perspectives from aboriginal peoples, park rangers, research scientists, land managers and industry persons, and seek to understand their role in the day-to-day stewardship of valuable natural resources and biological diversity. Through knowledge exchanges with experts and local communities and extended time studying wildlands, we will investigate how our field studies can support and benefit both ecology and society in a contemporary Australian context.