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Articles categorized as ‘Macquarie University Environmental Sciences’

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Macquarie University international scholarships

What does the Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship cover?

Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship is a partial scholarship for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, the amount is varied up to AUD$10,000 and it will be applied towards your tuition fee.

Macquarie University

Study at Macquarie University

Priority areas: Engineering, Environment, Human Science, Media, Linguistics, and Education.

Application Deadline – June 29, 2016

The Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarships do not provide financial support in the form of a living allowance, nor does it provide for the cost of visa application, Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), airfares, accommodation, conferences or other costs associated with study.

The Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship is a single scholarship and not available to be renewed. Please note that applicants can only receive one scholarship.

Applicants applying for the Vice-Chancellor’s International Scholarship will not be required to submit a referee’s report or a statement of purpose. Once you have completed the online scholarship application form, a confirmation email will be sent to you at your nominated email address. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


Degree: Master of Environment (Environmental Management)
Duration: 1 – 2 years
Semester intakes: February and July

The Master of Environment offers an interdisciplinary approach to environmental management. A major focus of the degree is to teach you how to work with people from different disciplinary perspectives in order to find environmental solutions.

You will study areas such as

  • sustainable development;
  • environmental decision making;
  • environmental management and analysis; and
  • environmental law.


Degree: Master of Engineering
Duration: 1 – 2 years
Semester intakes: February and July

The program covers key areas of professional electronics engineering systems design, delivery and management, including:

  • Very Large Scale Integration Algorithms and Systems
  • High Performance Integrated Circuit Design
  • Reconfigured Electronics
  • Telecommunications Performance Analysis
  • Hetrogeneous Networks, Theory and Practice


Degree: Master of Applied Linguistics
Duration: 1 – 2 years
Semester intakes: February and July

It is internationally relevant and focuses on the development of analytic skills and understanding the complex relationship between language use and context, and research in these areas. The degree is designed to allow candidates to study a broad range of topics within the area of Applied Linguistics. In particular, the degree has been designed to provide a strong theoretical and practical foundation in the field of teaching English as a second or foreign language.


Degree: Bachelor of Education (Primary or Secondary)
Duration: 2 years full time
Semester intake: February

The Macquarie School of Education is committed to an academic, research-based approach to teacher education. At the core of Macquarie’s approach to teacher education is the concept of the scholar-teacher, one who is flexible, responsive to academic needs, reflective, open-minded, confident and adaptable.

Do you have any questions about how you can apply for this Macquarie University scholarship? Email info@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 to learn more!

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Master of Environmental Planning strategist discovers benefits of degree

Gemma Bennett is a recent graduate of the Master of Environmental Planning program and an environmental strategist working in local government. Her role encompasses a diverse range of projects, from natural asset valuation to emergency management and improving internal environmental planning capacities.

Master of Environmental Planning

Gemma Bennett (Photo credit: Macquarie University)

After working in local government for a number of years as an environmental strategist, Gemma discovered just how much planning influences local communities and environments. This was the impetus for her undertaking her postgraduate studies at Macquarie University.

“When I decided to do a Masters degree, Macquarie was at the top of my list as it has a great reputation for producing excellent planning practitioners. Another factor for choosing Macquarie was that I had completed my undergraduate degree at Macquarie in a Bachelor of Science with Honours,” explains Gemma.

When asked what were some highlights about studying the Master of Environmental Planning, Gemma replied, “The degree allowed me to explore areas of research that I was passionate about. Consequently I was able to co-author a journal publication.

“Also, in the midst of my degree my daughter came along. The academic staff were fantastic. Their patience and flexibility allowed me to continue my studies resulting in me receiving the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence.”

The Master of Environmental Planning is a Planning Institute of Australia accredited degree. It develops professional skills and knowledge in matters important to planning practice, while allowing you to pursue your special interests, such as environmental and resources management, sustainable development, urban and regional planning, environmental law and policy and social impact assessment. It provides the opportunity to undertake an applied planning project to demonstrate your skills as an environmental planner, and offers real-life environmental consultancy projects for real clients through the Environmental Management Practice unit.

Program: Master of Environmental Planning
Location: North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intakes: February and July
Duration: 1 – 2 years (depending on candidate’s background)

Apply to an Environmental Sciences degree at Macquarie University!


Would you like more information about environmental sciences programs available at Macquarie University? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com.

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

Macquarie researchers say humans are changing ocean ecosystems in fundamental and surprising ways

Humans are changing the ‘landscape of fear’ in oceans in many more ways that previously thought, and the effects of these changes can ripple through ocean ecosystems in a wide variety of surprising ways, research by Dr Elizabeth Madin from the Macquarie Department of Biological Sciences and colleagues from Simon Fraser University, Canada and the University of California and Florida International University in the United States has found.

Macquarie University sciences

Blacktip shark (Photo credit: Dr Elizabeth Madin via Macquarie University)

Where predators, such as sharks and other big animals, have largely disappeared due to overfishing, for example, changes in their prey’s behaviour have led to clear impacts on coral reef ecosystems.

“What we now know is that when predators are removed from coral reefs through overfishing, the behavioural responses of the prey fish alone are enough to fundamentally change what the physical reefscape looks like.”

The research collectively shows that as humans continue to change predator numbers in the ocean—by eating them as seafood and changing where they live through climate change—other parts of the ecosystem are affected simply by changing predation risk.

“We are removing predators from marine ecosystems at unprecedented rates, and we are doing so with very little knowledge of the full range of potential consequences,” said Dr Madin. “What our work shows is that there are many more consequences, through a fundamentally different pathway, than we’ve generally recognised up to now. These really need to be considered in conservation and ecosystem management.

“One thing that we can all do to lessen our impact on the oceans is to carefully consider our seafood choices. In particular, we can check web-based seafood sustainability guides to make sure that the seafood we buy in the store and order in restaurants is sustainable. In other words, it doesn’t contribute to overharvest or habitat destruction,” said Dr Madin.

Macquarie University Department of Biological Sciences

Macquarie University has an international reputation for being innovative in the study of science. It is at the forefront of research nationally and internationally, and excels in the application and commercialization of new discoveries. Macquarie offers a unique range of interdisciplinary postgraduate degrees across a number of areas including environmental management, environmental education, environmental health, environmental planning, environmental science, environmental studies, sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, geography, geoscience, marine science, museum studies and wildlife management.


Are you interested in marine biology and marine science programs at Macquarie University? Contact OzTREKK Admission Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Macquarie marine science graduate shares her love of the ocean

What happens when you live on Canada’s beautiful west coast? Well, very often you develop a love for the ocean. That’s what happened to former OzTREKK student Jasmine Wei. Not only did she head to Australia to further her studies and to follow her passion, but now she’s also working back in Canada in a field she loves!

OzTREKK had a chance to chat with Jasmine to find out more about how she liked the Master of Marine Science and Management program at Macquarie University!

What is your background and why are you interested in marine sciences?

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

Volunteering with a research project at Taronga Zoo. Met “Mav” the New Zealand fur seal!

Growing up in Vancouver, I’ve always had a love for animals and the outdoors.  I first became interested in marine sciences when I was in grade 6 during a week-long field trip at the Vancouver Aquarium. I was fascinated by all the different kinds of animals from sea stars to whales found in our oceans. I completed my Honours Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto with a double major in Zoology and Genetics & Biotechnology with the intention of pursuing a career in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals while learning about animals on the side to feed my interests. Within a month of graduation, I realized that I really wanted to devote my life to protecting and preserving our oceans and the life they hold. It is ridiculous how little we know and understand about our oceans, and how under appreciated they are among the general public. Now with more climate change impacts on the rise, marine sciences will be more important than ever.

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

Being a typical tourist with the Sydney Opera House

Why did you choose to study Master of Marine Science and Management at Macquarie?

I was having a hard time deciding between a couple amazing university programs, but it really came down to the courses. The Master of Marine Science and Management program at Macquarie University offered such a broad range of topics to choose from that really allowed me to cater to my interests and career path. The program was also offered in partnership with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, the University of Technology Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney, which made it really unique. Macquarie University is also home to many great researchers and ranked top 50 in the world in Earth and marine sciences. So why not?

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

Obligatory selfie with a roo (except this is a wallaby) at Featherdale Wildlife Park

Did you enjoy your program? Any surprises?

Yes! I loved my program. It was definitely more challenging that I thought it would be going in. Looking back, I can’t believe how much work I actually did during my degree, and how almost all of that work was applicable to actual marine science jobs in the real world. I loved having class once a week at the Sydney Institute of Marine Science in Chowder Bay with students from the other three partnering universities. I got to meet so many different and amazing people along the way.

What are you enjoying most about your time in Australia?

The weather and the animals! All my friends and family back home were always jealous of me posting selfies with kangaroos, koalas and quokkas. It is also so different waking up in the morning to the extremely loud magpies, cockatoos and kookaburras on campus, rather than the sweet songbirds back home, but you learn to love them (or at least some of them). Learning to scuba dive was also an amazing experience and I’m so glad I chose to do it in Australia. I also love meat pies. I don’t know why they don’t exist everywhere else in the world, but they should.

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

Getting my PADI Open Water certification

What are you up to now?

After graduating I did a bit of travelling and now I’ve moved back home to Vancouver, BC to start the dreaded job hunt. Currently, I’m interning at the Fisheries Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a conservation research unit called Project Seahorse. We’ll see what happens next!

Congratulations on your Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence Award! Can you tell us about it?

The Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Academic Excellence is awarded to students who have maintained a Distinction or High Distinction for every unit of study taken during their program. I am definitely extremely proud to have qualified for this award; it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears!

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

At Kings Tableland in the Blue Mountains

Any tips for future OzTREKK students thinking of studying in Australia?

Do it! I guarantee you won’t regret it. Every school that is available through OzTREKK has amazing programs and you really can’t go wrong. Plus you’ll make so many international connections along the way that could really be beneficial for whatever your future has in store for you.


What is the Master of Marine Science and Management?

This interdisciplinary and cross-institutional degree is unique in Australia, and gives you in-depth knowledge in a range of disciplines in marine science and management.

Study at up to three of the four participating universities. Students enrol at one of the partner universities where they complete six of eight subjects. Two of the remaining subjects can be chosen from a list of electives across all participating universities. The core subject involves a seminar series at the newly built teaching facilities at SIMS taught by leading Australian and international marine scientists. The unit culminates in a research project taking advantage of the Australian Integrated Marine Observing System database.

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

At Kings Tableland with some Canadians, after my first bushwalk in Australia!

This degree is suitable for students seeking a broad base in marine science as qualification for entry into the field including those wishing to gain new and specialised skills in a range of theoretical and practical applications. It is also suitable for professionals looking to extend their area of expertise and acquire knowledge of managerial practices.

Program: Master of Marine Science and Management
Location: North Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales
Semester intakes: February and July
Duration: 1.5 years

Entry requirements

  • Australian level 7 bachelor’s qualification or recognised equivalent in science, marine science, or a related discipline
  • GPA of 2.50 (out of 4.00)

Apply to the Master of Marine Science and Management at Macquarie University!


Receive more information about marine science and other environmental sciences programs available at Macquarie University! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355.

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

Scientists recognised for their work in improving disaster resilience

Three exceptional young scientists have been recognised for their work in improving disaster resilience in the Asia-Pacific region.

Environmental sciences at the University of NewcastleThe University of Newcastle’s Dr Hannah Power was one of three finalists in the national search to find an Australian nominee for the APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (also known as the ASPIRE Prize).

The 2015 ASPIRE Prize theme is Disaster Risk Reduction, something that Dr Power, a lecturer in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences at UON has as a focus. Dr Power’s research focuses on the processes and morphology of coastal environments—with a recent focus on project-modelling tsunami inundation in New South Wales waterways.

APEC is a valuable forum for engaging with the Asia-Pacific region, and the Aspire Prize highlights elite scientific talent.

One of three nominees, Dr Power was chosen from a highly competitive field and was runner up to Macquarie University’s Dr Katharine Haynes—who will be Australia’s successful nominee to the 2015 ASPIRE Prize. Dr Haynes was recognised for her work in community and youth-based disaster risk reduction and communication and for using science to improve policies and organisational procedures.

Her research has spanned the full gamut of natural disasters, including bushfires, heatwaves, cyclones, floods, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. She has also collaborated with academics and emergency management practitioners from other APEC economies including Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines and the US.

Macquarie environmental sciencesSince 2011, the annual ASPIRE Prize has recognised scientists under the age of 40 who are working in APEC economies and who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in scientific research and cooperation with scientists across other APEC economies.

University of Newcastle School of Environmental and Life Sciences

The School of Environmental and Life Sciences within the Faculty of Science and Information Technology at the University of Newcastle is made up of six disciplines which includes applied sciences, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, geography and environmental studies and environmental science and management. The school is highly research active in the above discipline areas, with a focus on developing research and teaching skills that encourage critical thinking and problem solving strategies across all of their degrees.

Macquarie University Graduate School of the Environment

The Graduate School of the Environment at Macquarie University offers a wide range of degrees and courses to choose from that combine the natural and social sciences and develop intellectual, professional and practical skills. Students can choose between papers that develop critical thinking skills through exposure to theory and philosophy; field-based papers that develop research skills; and practical papers that develop professional skills through accredited coursework and industry internships. Macquarie environmental science graduates pursue careers oriented toward ecologically sustainable development via institutional and social change.


Find out more about studying environmental sciences at the University of Newcastle and at Macquarie University! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 for more information about how you can study in Australia!

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Macquarie Science VegeSafe initiative recognised with Green Lifestyle award

The Macquarie Faculty of Science’s community soil-testing program, VegeSafe, has been highly commended in the Garden – Company category in the annual Green Lifestyle Awards.

VegeSafe was established in 2013 by a group of passionate environmental scientists, keen to inform the community about metal and metalloid contaminants in their garden soil.

Macquarie University Sciences

What’s in your garden soil?

When Vegesafe was first launched, Professor Mark Taylor explained the program’s significance: “This is especially important information for parents and keen urban gardeners,” he said. “As more inner-­city and suburban families start sustainable vegetable gardens, it’s crucial that they know what’s in the soil before eating their produce, or exposing their children to soils.”

Through the free soil-sampling program, community participants receive a formal report with their soil results and are provided with links to information and advice about what to do next in the event of soils containing elevated concentrations of metals and metalloids.

“Our motto is ‘carry on gardening’,” says VegeSafe team member Marek Rouillon, “because this is exactly what we want people to do, in the knowledge that their soils are metal free, as is the produce from their gardens.”

The principal VegeSafe team includes Professor Mark Taylor, Associate Professor Damian Gore, and PhD students Marek Rouillon, Paul Harvey, Louise Kristensen and Steven George.

“We’ve also had fantastic help from Olympus via their technical sales specialist for mining, Sam Habib” says Professor Taylor.

The Green Lifestyle Awards showcase the companies, people and products working to minimise impact on the environment, to help make a green lifestyle easy, and set an example for other organisations.

The awards were an opportunity to share with great minds in the industry, according to editor of Green Lifestyle magazine, Caitlin Howlett.

“VegeSafe’s free soil metal testing program is to be highly commended for its ability to inform and empower residents about growing their own safe, fresh veggies. There is very little public awareness about contaminated soils, but Professor Mark Taylor and the team at Macquarie University are doing a great job at educating the community about the risks, and what to do about the problem,” says Howlett.

The annual Green Lifestyle Awards recognise leading green initiatives from a range of industries in the environmental scene. Other people to be recognised by the awards include Bob Brown, India Naidoo, and Olivia Newton-John.


Receive more information about science and environmental sciences programs available at Macquarie University! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 for more information about how you can study in Australia!

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

Macquarie researchers find wind patterns facilitated the Polynesian migration

New research shows that the expansion of the tropics and associated changes in Pacific Ocean wind patterns facilitated the Polynesian migration to the far eastern and southern ends of the Pacific including Easter Island, New Zealand and Subantarctic Auckland Islands.

Macquarie University’s Associate Professor Ian Goodwin of the Department of Environment and Geography and colleagues reconstructed wind-field patterns from modeled Pacific sea level pressure at 20-year intervals spanning the period 800 AD to 1600 AD.

Macquarie University

Macquarie researchers determine changes in Pacific Ocean wind patterns facilitated the Polynesian migration

Voyaging to Easter Island was possible as early as 800 to 910 AD, and voyaging to New Zealand as early as 940 to 970 AD. However, they revealed climate windows where the most favourable sailing conditions for travel between central East Polynesia and New Zealand occurred between 1140 and 1260 AD, and for travel to Easter Island between 1250 and 1280 AD.

The paleoclimate changes accords well with the archaeological evidence that suggests a rapid colonisation of Polynesian islands by sea-faring peoples, including the colonisation of New Zealand between 1100 and 1300 AD.

Off-wind or down-wind sailing between central East Polynesia and New Zealand was unusually possible during this period, when intensification and poleward expansion of the Pacific subtropical anticyclone strengthened tradewinds toward New Zealand.

The paleo-wind patterns revealed that New Zealand was potentially colonised by voyaging from the Tonga/Fiji Islands, the Southern Cook Islands, and the Austral Islands further east. Similarly, the wind patterns revealed that Easter Island might have been colonised from both Central East Polynesia and from Chile.

“This research fits in the Polynesian folklore, which refers to multiple migrations—our mapping of the climate conditions at that time they were travelling confirms the possibility,” said Macquarie University Professor Goodwin.

It also indicates that Polynesian sailing-canoes did not need a capability to sail to windward, and that all passages could have been made downwind over the immense ocean tracts.

“These are fantastic new insights into prehistoric maritime migration, and opens doors for marine climatologists to work with anthropologists and archaeologists, to piece together the evolution of maritime societies.”

About Anthropology

Anthropology is the comparative study of societies and cultural diversity. It asks interpretative questions about behaviour, meaning, and value between different societies and cultures. Why do people do what they do? Why do people in different societies do different things? Anthropologists generally obtain their understanding through participating in and observing the lives of the people they work among. Through this method, known as fieldwork, anthropologists gain a detailed knowledge of the cultural world of other peoples by living and working beside them.

Macquarie University Department of Environment and Geography

The department of Environment and Geography is committed to excellence in research, learning and teaching, and community engagement. In 2011, the Times Higher Education ranked Macquarie University the top institution in Australia and New Zealand for research in environmental sciences and ecology, and 14th in the world. More recently, environmental sciences was one of three disciplines at Macquarie to have again achieved the maximum rating (well above world standard) in the Australian Government’s 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) analysis.


Learn more about studying anthropology or environmental sciences at Macquarie University and at other Australian universities! Contact OzTREKK Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 for more information.

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Eureka Prize win for Macquarie University climate change scientist

Macquarie University climate change scientist Professor Lesley Hughes is the winner of the 2014 Australian Government Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research.

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

Learn more about studying climate change

Professor Hughes has been researching and communicating the science of climate change for more than 20 years. She was appointed commissioner of the independent government advisory Climate Commission in 2011 and became a pro-bono founding councillor of the Climate Council of Australia in 2013. She was a lead author for the UN’s IPCC Fourth and Fifth Assessment Reports.

From a research background—predicting and then observing the effects of a changing climate on biodiversity— Professor Hughes moved to communicating beyond her scientific peers. Her goal is to translate the science of climate change in all its breadth and complexity to the wider public.

Professor Hughes’ free, online course via Open University Australia explains the science of climate change in straightforward terms for non-scientists. The course even received praise from climate skeptics—for them, what had been lacking was a clear explanation of the science.

“With issues like climate change, the science may be settled, but the debate rages on. For many scientists, this gap between science and public understanding is unfathomable. Lesley Hughes is bridging that gap,” Australian Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay said.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are the country’s most comprehensive national science awards. The other finalists in the category were

  • The University of Melbourne’s Professor Philip Batterham, a five-time Eureka finalist who engages non-scientists with evolution, climate change and health, and threw a 200th birthday party for Charles Darwin.
  • University of New South Wales’ Associate Professor Darren Curnoe, who has used his discovery of several species of our ancient hominin cousins, the Red Deer Cave people in China, to engage the public about evolution.

Macquarie Graduate School of the Environment

The Graduate School of the Environment offers a wide range of degrees and courses to choose from that combine the natural and social sciences and develop intellectual, professional and practical skills. Students can choose between papers that develop critical thinking skills through exposure to theory and philosophy; field-based papers that develop research skills; and practical papers that develop professional skills through accredited coursework and industry internships.

Apply to a Macquarie University Environmental Sciences program!


Find out more about environmental science programs available at Macquarie University and the Graduate School of the Environment. Contact OzTREKK Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 for more information about how you can study in Australia!

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Macquarie researchers study extreme rainfall effects

Australian scientists are studying how plants worldwide will respond to more extreme rainfall in a future affected by climate change. They report that impacts will vary greatly across regions, meaning potentially dramatic disruptions to plant growth. This changed timing of rainfall may impact grasses and crops, with different rooting depths to trees, in different ways.

Macquarie University Biological Sciences

Macquarie is studying how plants will be affected by extreme rainfall

Because extreme precipitation, or changed timing of precipitation changes soil water content, this is likely to affect plant growth. This means food production, forestry industry, biodiversity and carbon and water cycles may also be affected, depending upon the region, and soil types.  Interactions with pests and pathogens, and invasive species may also be influenced by extreme precipitation changing soil water content.

Dr Melanie Zeppel and Jessica Wilks of Macquarie University, Sydney, in an international collaboration with Professor James Lewis, Fordham University, New York, conducted a global review of how plants respond to extreme precipitation in different ecosystems around the planet, such as dry grasslands, woodlands, warm humid tropical rainforests, savannas, as well as cold deserts. Their paper is published in Biogeosciences.

Dr Zeppel says that seasonal changes to rainfall “may have significant effects on plant water stress and growth rates.”

Despite the fact that we are seeing more intense droughts, storms and floods, yet we don’t currently know how many plants, particularly deep-rooted trees, will respond to this changed timing of precipitation.

“Knowledge of how plants respond to extreme precipitation is essential to understanding plant responses to future climates. This inspired us to examine the current state of knowledge.

“CSIRO and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree that in future we are likely to experience more extreme weather, with many regions receiving intense droughts, floods, as well as hotter heat waves and bush fires.

“Even if the amount of rainfall within a year stays the same, in future, rain is likely to fall in more intense and ‘extreme’ rain events. That means rather than many, small rain events, we are likely to experience, fewer, more heavy rain events,” she says.

Precipitation may also shift seasons, for example, with more falling in Autumn, and less falling in Spring.

Consequences included delayed flowering, significantly less fruit production, smaller plant size and mortality in some regions and soil types, with plants in other regions growing larger.

“We were excited to find some intriguing results. In certain low rainfall regions, extreme precipitation caused growth rates to go up, whereas in wetter regions, extreme precipitation caused plant growth to decrease. It will be fascinating to see if this pattern holds across different ecosystems, and whether there is a threshold, above which changed precipitation timing causes plant growth to decline.”

Macquarie University Department of Biological Sciences

With state-of-the-art facilities and a wide range of study options, Macquarie University offers students unique opportunities in biology. Learn about what interests you from world-leading researchers.

The Department of Biological Sciences’ main science teaching laboratories provide a world-class, highly interactive and stimulating learning environment, and have been fitted with the latest digital technology.

Macquarie Biological Sciences students use microscopes in a totally new way by projecting the microscopic images onto computer screens and projector boards so they can share their discoveries with the entire class—it is like every practical becomes a nature documentary, and the students are the directors.

Each student in these laboratories has access to a networked computer, digital camera and microscopes, allowing them to create their own virtual libraries of images from the laboratory exercise and share these with their classmates and teachers.


Would you like more information about studying biological sciences or climate change at Macquarie University? Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call 1-866-698-7355 for more information about how you can study in Australia!

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Macquarie study shows ecosystem’s natural response slows global warming

A two-decade study of carbon storage changes within North American forests provides new evidence of the direct impact of climate change on ecosystem function, opening questions for how Australian ecosystems are responding.

Macquarie University Environmental Sciences

Macquarie researchers say increased carbon uptake is a positive response to climate change

Researcher Dr Trevor Keenan from the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University led the study across temperate forests of North America, where a strong trend of seasonal changes indicates an ecological adaption to extend the ‘green’ seasons, thus enhancing ecosystem carbon uptake.

The study shows increased carbon uptake, for both an earlier spring and later autumn. This constitutes a positive response to climate change, and is serving to slow the rate of global warming.

“In contrast to previous suggestions, this study shows that carbon uptake through photosynthesis increased considerably more than carbon release through respiration. We observed a strong trend for both an earlier spring and later autumn,” said Dr Keenan.

Researchers assessed changes of temperate forests, combining long-term ground observations of the timing of spring and autumn, satellite observations, and ecosystem-scale carbon dioxide flux measurements, along with 18 terrestrial biosphere models.

“The timing of plant life cycle (phenological) events exerts a strong control over ecosystem function, and leads to multiple feedbacks to the climate system.

“The terrestrial biosphere models tested misrepresent the temperature sensitivity of phenology, and thus the effect on carbon uptake. Our analysis of the temperature-phenology-carbon coupling suggests a current and possible future enhancement of forest carbon uptake due to changes in phenology.”

This study means researchers could directly observe the effect climate change is having on ecosystem function in North America. To date, little still is known about how Australian ecosystems have responded to global warming, but Keenan and Macquarie University’s world-leading environmental sciences research team will continue to examine these questions.

The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers from Harvard University, Boston University, The Ohio State University, USDA Forest Service, Harvard Forest, the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Germany, and the Carbon Dioxide Informational Analysis Centre, USA.

Net carbon uptake has increased through warming-induced changes in temperate forest phenology, Nature Climate Change, 2014, Trevor F. Keenan, Josh Gray, Mark A. Friedl, Michael Toomey, Gil Bohrer, David Y. Hollinger, J. William Munger, John O’Keefe, Hans Peter Schmid, Ian Sue Wing, Bai Yang, Andrew D. Richardson.


Receive more information about environmental sciences programs available at Macquarie University! Contact OzTREKK’s Australian Environmental Sciences Admissions Officer Rachel Brady at rachel@oztrekk.com or call toll free in Canada at 1-866-698-7355 for more information about how you can study in Australia!