Climate Ready Biodiversity Mapping

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Introduction

The Whitsundays Climate Change Innovation Hub (Hub) is pleased to be working with researchers and their students to increase our understanding of the impacts of climate change and the conservation implications in a dynamic environment. Research information helps fulfill the Hub’s mission of building the resilience of the Whitsundays, and communities everywhere to climate change. Professor Williams is an expert member of the Climate Hub Advisory Panel.  This project will develop novel biodiversity modelling to map current and future biodiversity refugia. This information is crucial for Council and other land managers to guide the prioritisation of conservation efforts.  This project is a collaboration between the Hub and James Cook University.

Meet the researchers

Stephen Williams is a Professor in the College of Marine and Environmental Science, James Cook University, Australia. His research has focused on field-based ecology, understanding biodiversity, assessing the resilience of natural ecosystems to environmental change, and using this knowledge to maximize the positive benefits of conservation management and adaptation.  He aims to help foster international collaboration and information exchange in order to provide the resources needed by natural resource managers around the world to adapt to a changing climate.

Alejandro is a conservation biologist with a particular interest in spatial ecology and macroecology. His passion is to translate novel ecological knowledge into practical conservation actions and management plans. He completed a Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in Conservation of Biodiversity at the University of Salamanca, Spain. Alejandro has been working since then on the conservation of rainforests in Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, working side by side with local and indigenous communities to create and protect natural areas. Alejandro is a Doctoral Student at JCU. He aims to determine the factors that limit wild populations in the Australian Wet Tropics and what we can do to protect highly vulnerable ecosystems in a changing climate.

Research Scope

This project aims to develop biodiversity mapping for the Whitsunday Region applying a climate lens. By extending understanding of the region’s biodiversity, and the shifts occurring due to climate change, stakeholders will be better equipped to manage priority species and ensure conservation efforts are directed into the most cost beneficial areas.  The data collected during this project will be presented to Whitsunday Regional Council and other stakeholders via an event or webinar and shared as useable GIS layers.  The research may also be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Stage 1 – Understanding our regions biodiversity and data gaps

Stakeholders will be engaged in an initial meeting to involve them in the project, educate them on the value of understanding biodiversity and the outputs that the project is looking to design.   Stakeholders will be asked to contribute with any data or information and further contacts.  

The project stakeholders include Whitsunday Regional Council, the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, Reef Catchments, the region’s Natural Resource Management Group, Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Services, Fauna Rescue, and Whitsunday Catchment Landcare.

Workshops will be held as required and may include a charet session with maps to drill down into perceived priority species, conservation issues, and prioritise objectively based on importance, urgency, cost-benefits, potential to have a feasible adaptation action.

The Climate Hub will fill identified data gaps and fund any additional research required throughout the project.

Get involved

Do you have knowledge or data on our region’s plants and animals?  Email Olivia at the Climate Hub to get involved in the project and share your information  Olivia.brodhurst@whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au.