Setting the TREND

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Climate change threatens biodiversity across Australia, and South Australia is no exception – where the State is predicted to get hotter and drier in the future. But climate change is already occurring. Average temperatures have risen by 0.9 oC over the past century and impacts are apparent in many biological systems and species. The Transect for Environmental Decision Making (TREND) has been initiated specifically to monitor the impacts of climate change on South Australian ecosystems and to recommend and instigate climate change adaptation strategies to protect vulnerable ecosystems and species.

TREND is a network of South Australian biological survey transects that include marine sites in the Spencer Gulf and Gulf of St Vincent; terrestrial sites in native ecosystems and on farms from the temperate Mount Lofty Ranges to the low-rainfall Flinders Ranges and Eyre Peninsula. TREND is based at the University of Adelaide and was initiated in partnership with The Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Recently two transects of human settlement and interaction within the state have also been added to the TREND portfolio of activities. TREND is primarily supported through the SA Government Premier’s Science and Research Fund and more recently the Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN).

TREND transects encompass natural wilderness areas, National Parks, regions of agricultural production and population centres.  Information and data from TREND will help equip South Australian researchers, managers and decision makers with the information and tools to report on the magnitude and direction of climate change and resource management. TREND science will directly inform managers and policy makers on climate change impacts and adaptation strategies.

Activist and actress Cate Blanchett with TREND Director Andy Lowe at WOMAD EarthStation in October 2011

By bringing together world class researchers in the fields of marine biology, terrestrial ecology, agricultural production and socio-economics, TREND will provide a synthesis of past, present and future environmental impacts in our changing environment.

A unique and key component of TREND will be to encourage and embrace public engagement and participation in its citizen science components. Embracing new technology, TREND is currently developing a smart phone app which will allow members of the public to record the plants and animals they see along the TREND transects and submit them to the TREND database.  Sightings and recordings by the public will provide important contributions in creating ‘time lapse’ points along the transects which will be used by scientists to track changes over time.

The TREND team were on hand at the WOMAD EarthStation festival, held in October 2011 at Belair National Park, to discuss the initiative, explain what the transects are for, and what they might achieve.

For more information and updates on TREND, please visit the website at

For more information on climate change adaptation, also visit the NCCARF website.

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