Institute for Future

Samford Ecological Research Facility

The Samford Ecological Research Facility (SERF) is a living laboratory for research and educational experiences for our researchers, students and visitors. Managed by the Institute for Future Environments (IFE), the 51-hectare property is located in the Samford Valley, 25-minutes northwest of QUT's Gardens Point campus.

The facility is a base for our research, teaching and learning in a range of ecological, engineering, built environment and educational programs relating to urban development, and its impact on ecosystems.


SERF is a unique facility that provides researchers and students the opportunity to investigate the climate, environment, soil, water, vegetation and wildlife of a peri-urban ecosystem. Students visit SERF to study the site’s flora, fauna and ecosystem ecology using a variety of field survey methods.

In 2009, SERF became one of the first SuperSites established in the Australian SuperSite Network. Each SuperSite is used to observe and measure long term changes in flora, fauna and biophysical processes over time and contributes to national data on environmental variability and the impact of urban development on ecosystems.

Dr EN Marks Sustainability Award

The property was generously bequeathed to QUT in 2009 by renowned Queensland entomologist Dr Elizabeth Nesta Marks AO, who conducted world-recognised research with mosquitoes and malaria in the 1940s and 1950s. Each year, we present one undergraduate student with the Dr EN Marks Sustainability Award to recognise research projects that engage the wider community and maintain the environmental integrity of SERF.


Greenhouse gas measuring chamber

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agriculture contribute substantially to Australia’s total GHG emissions and this is expected to increase with future changes in land use and management. QUT in collaboration with German scientists, have developed an automated continuous sampling GHG monitoring system. The components of this unique automated sampler include:

  • SRI gas chromatography with ECD and FID detectors for N2O and CH4
  • Licor infrared gas analyser for CO2.

Acoustic sensors

Our acoustic sensors provide ecologists and conservation biologists with the ability to scale environmental observations both temporally and spatially. Automated sensor systems can be used to collect data passively as they do not interfere with the behaviour of the observed species and have minimal impact on the environment. They also provide a cost effective means of collecting data and greatly reduce human error associated with instantaneous surveys.

Flux station

The flux station located in the cleared pasture area at SERF is used for carbon dioxide and water flux measurement, automated greenhouse gas measurement and weather monitoring.

Water quality monitoring

Water quality monitoring systems are located onsite and used to measure the area’s hydrology.

The Barracks

The Barracks is the headquarters of the property, and offers toilet and telephone facilities, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, potable drinking water and rainwater for cleaning and sanitation. As well as the Barracks, the property is home to the heritage-listed Slab Hut, which has restricted access.

Accessing SERF

Public access

Each year we host a public information session for Samford residents and visits by external researchers and government representatives. Contact us to arrange your visit.

Research access

SERF is available as a research site for our undergraduate and postgraduate student research projects, including:

  • vegetation and water studies
  • cadastral and topographical surveys
  • flora and fauna studies
  • social impact assessments
  • built environment projects.

SERF is also open to prospective QUT researchers who propose projects that are consistent with the facility’s mission of research, education, sustainability and long-term resource protection.

Annual reports

Our annual reports provide an overview of our activities, research projects and developments since the site was bequeathed to QUT.


Samford Ecological Research Facility