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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.

Our experts

Meet our experts

Professor Anthony Clarke
Position
Professor and Chair of Fruit Fly Biology and Management
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Ecology
Horticultural Production
Evolutionary Biology
Email
Professor Jennifer Firn
Position
Professor
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Ecology
Ecological Applications
Plant Biology
Email
Professor Peter Grace
Position
Professor of Global Change and Theme Leader
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Environmental Science and Management
Soil Sciences
Email
Associate Professor Susan Fuller
Position
Associate Professor in Ecology
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Ecology
Environmental Science and Management
Evolutionary Biology
Email
Associate Professor Grant Hamilton
Position
Associate Professor in Ecology
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Ecological Applications
Environmental Science and Management
Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
Email
Associate Professor David Rowlings
Position
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Environmental Science and Management
Agriculture, Land and Farm Management
Crop and Pasture Production
Email
Dr Andrew Baker
Position
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Genetics
Ecology
Email
Dr Lucy Reading
Position
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Environmental Science and Management
Soil Sciences
Geology
Email
Dr Ramona Maggini
Position
Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Ecological Applications
Environmental Science and Management
Ecology
Email
Dr Katharina Merkel
Position
Associate Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research field
Other Biological Sciences
Email
Dr Jean-Yves Paul
Position
Senior Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research fields
Agricultural Biotechnology
Plant Biology
Analytical Chemistry
Email
Dr Max De Antoni Migliorati
Position
Research Fellow
Division / Faculty
Sustainable Environments,
School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences
Research field
Other Earth Sciences
Email

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Research

In the Australian Government's 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) framework, our research in Environmental Science and Ecological Applications have been ranked at the highest possible level: 'well above world standard.' Our research in Environmental Management and Soil Science have been ranked as 'above world standard.'

Our research areas include:

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.

View related student topics

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.

View related student topics

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.

View related student topics

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.

View related student topics

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.

View related student topics

View all of our student topics

Projects

Managing complex networks in endangered grasslands to restore food webs

Project leader

Associate Professor Jennifer Firn

Dates

2019-2024

Project summary

Grasslands offer Australian society essential services including food production, ecosystem stability and resilience. This project will unravel for the first time experimentally the complex interactions among non-native and native mammals and plants, invertebrates, and soil nutrients.

Conservationists and farmers will profit from knowledge transfer, and new capacity built in Australian grassland ecology and entomology. A prospectus will be compiled detailing quantitatively the implications of the loss of biodiversity for long-term sustainability. Adaptable network models will be available to assist managers with decisions on where in grassland food webs they should initiate management interventions to benefit conservation and agriculture.

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.

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

Study

Our experts help develop our students' understanding of the environment and the importance of managing natural systems now and into the future.

Our degree includes meaningful, first-hand experiences studying a range of ecosystems from arid shrubland to rainforests and from natural habitats to agricultural landscapes.

Bachelor of Science (Environmental Science)

Second year ecology students go on a field trip to Bunya Mountains to experience ecological systems first hand.

First year students learn about how quantitative and experimental science can show us more about the environment and ecosystems through hands-on field and laboratory-based teaching.

Second year students build on these experiences with further specialised studies in:

  • ecology
  • environmental pollution
  • geospatial science
  • statistical science.

Final year students undertake a capstone unit that will bring together their knowledge and skills developed throughout their course before graduating and launching their environmental science career.

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

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