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Overview

Humans are undeniably reliant on nature and the services provided by ecosystems.

Globally, unsustainable land use has led to the degradation of many of these services and the loss of irreplaceable biodiversity.

Our discipline aims to discover scientifically robust solutions to Australia’s and the world’s most significant environmental challenges.

Real graduate

"Working as an environmental coordinator allows me to diversify my work responsibilities from developing environmental management systems to practical applications such as environmental monitoring and auditing on site.

In today’s climate both regulatory bodies and companies recognise the value of setting environmental goals and it's rewarding to be able to assist in achieving these."

Emily Russell

Study

If you study a major in Environmental Science at QUT, you will be taught by experts to help develop your understanding of the environment, and the importance of managing natural systems now and into the future.

Your degree will include meaningful first-hand experiences studying a range of ecosystems from arid shrubland to rainforests and from natural habitats to agricultural landscapes.

Your study experience

In the first year, you will learn about how quantitative and experimental science can show us more about the environment and ecosystems through hands-on field and laboratory-based teaching.

In the second year, you will build on these experiences with further specialised studies in environmental pollution, ecology, statistical science and geospatial science.

In your final year, you will undertake a final capstone unit that will challenge you to bring together your knowledge and mastered skills before graduating and launching your environmental science career.

Explore our courses

Student topics

Biodiversity and conservation

Summary:

There is so much we are yet to understand about biodiversity on our planet. Scientists are still striving to describe and measure the full variety of species.

While we are in the race to identify species, millions of species are in peril due to human activities.

Our researchers use morphological and molecular approaches to describe biodiversity and apply ecological theory to the problems of conserving threatened species and ecosystems.

Our goal is to improve conservation management outcomes using a variety of tools from genes to species distribution modelling, with the aim of maintaining viable populations and restoring ecological diversity, structure and function.

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Biosecurity

Summary:

Invasive pests (e.g. native and non-native animals, plants and insects) and diseases can devastate both agricultural and native ecosystems.

For example, the accidental introduction of the South American plant disease myrtle rust to Australia in 2010 is currently changing the Australian landscape, as key native plants such as eucalypts, melaleucas, and lillypillies can be killed by it.

In the Sustainable Environments discipline, we use ecological, molecular, behavioural, remote sensing and eResearch tools to help prevent the entry of exotic plant pests and diseases, and to better manage those which have unfortunately already entered and established.

QUT is widely regarded as a leading Australian university for plant biosecurity research.

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Ecological applications

Summary:

The necessities for the survival of human civilisation are provided by richly diverse ecosystems, such as oxygen production, water filtration, nutrient cycling, pollination, and carbon sequestration.

Unsustainable land use has led to the degradation of ecosystems.

Our researchers are passionately committed to finding ways to restore or maintain key ecosystem functions and the services these functions provide in production landscapes.

These include solutions to weed control, multi-use forest restoration, mining restoration, aquaculture and fisheries management.

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Groundwater

Summary:

Our researchers are tackling the challenge of sustainable water resource management by working with projects that improve our understanding of groundwater.

This research covers urbanised volcanic hinterlands to coastal agricultural environments.

Within these settings, our focus is on assessing interactions between groundwater and the surrounding environment (including creeks, rivers and deep-rooted vegetation).

To investigate these interactions, we utilise a wide range of techniques including catchment scale monitoring, laboratory experiments and numerical modelling.

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Soil science

Summary:

Soil scientists at QUT are discovering looking into new ways to increase soil efficiency while staying environmentally friendly.

A wide range of technology is being used to understand the soil process.

With this technology, QUT soil scientists are discovering new pathways for delivering new methods to nutrient management systems across Australia.

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Projects

Composting as a means of minimising greenhouse gas emissions from the manure supply chain

Project leader

Dr David Rowlings

Dates

2013-2016

Project summary

Grant to investigate manure composting as a practice for minimising greenhouse gas emissions from intensive livestock industries and the manure supply chain. The project is comparing composting and stockpiling of manures to quantify reduction of methane and nitrous oxide emissions.

It will provide emission factors that could be used to improve Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The project will also determine the potential to reduce nitrous oxide emissions through the application of composted instead of raw manures.

Can advances in mid-term forecasts reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser?

Project leader
Dates

2013-2016

Project summary

Grant to investigate whether advances in mid-term weather forecasts can better inform farm management practices that will reduce emissions from nitrogen fertiliser. The project is also assessing how different fertiliser regimes can be used to mitigate nitrous oxide emissions under both short and longer term climate forecast scenarios.

A simple indicator of potential N2O loss from soil

Project leader
Dates

2013-2016

Project summary

Grant to quantify the relationship between active carbon and potential nitrous oxide loss in a laboratory situation. A rapid in-field soil test will be developed to assess the suitability of soil type for nitrous oxide reducing practices in the field.
Interdisciplinary and inter-institution projects

Interdisciplinary and inter-institution projects

Some of the projects we are contributing to with other disciplines and institutions are:
  • Mitigation of nitrous oxide emissions in the national vegetable industry, 2013-2016, Dr Clemens Scheer
  • Developmental engineering education in the primary school, 2012-2015, Professor Les Dawes
  • Quantifying nitrous oxide losses and nitrogen use efficiency gains cropping systems on clay soils with contrasting soil carbon status and land management, 2012-2015, Dr David Rowlings, Dr Clemens Scheer.

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Partnerships

Greenhouse gases and sustainable agriculture

Groundwater and water systems

Water management

Environmental engineering and sustainable development

Spatial science and resilient landscapes

Ask us about becoming a partner

Our topics

Are you looking to study at a higher or more detailed level? We are currently looking for students to research topics at a variety of study levels, including PhD, Masters, Honours or the Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES).

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Our experts

We host an expert team of researchers and teaching staff, including Head of School and discipline leaders. Our discipline brings together a diverse team of experts who deliver world-class education and achieve breakthroughs in research.

Meet our experts

Events

17 Nov 2018

FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE 2018

The 2018/19 FIRST LEGO League Season, INTO ORBITSM has launched!

2 Nov 2018

100 years of Anzac

Experience an interactive digital exhibition to learn about our First World War journey to the front, soldier repatriation and return home through stories of events and the historical places.

Contact us