An increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heat waves, droughts, and more frequent bushfires, has accompanied the rise in average annual temperatures over the last decades in Australia. Soil systems and the soil organisms essential for stable soil structure and its productivity are facing big challenges from changing climates. Minimising damage to soil systems caused by the changing climate is one of the top three research priorities identified by Australian Government for Australia’s water and soil assets. Although soil systems are extremely important and forecasts predict that soil temperatures will exceed heat tolerance of many insect species that comprise soil ecosystems, very little is known about how this change will affect the population dynamics of soil organisms. Behavioural responses and physiological tolerances may help minimise the consequences of changing soil temperatures and examining these will provide a valuable insight for the future of our soil systems and life as we know it. Springtails are the most abundant soil organisms responsible for the decomposition of organic matter and soil nutrient recycling. Developing a fundamental understanding of the impacts extreme weather events along with rapidly changing climate will have on behavioural and physiological responses of soil organisms using springtails as bioindicators is critical. This research project, based on using ‘microclim’ dataset of hourly soil temperatures along with future predictive models developed by NASA and lab simulations of extreme weather events, will provide ecologically relevant information and improve accuracy and precision of forecasting models used for decision-making across different climatic regions of Australia.
|Effective start/end date||17/11/17 → 16/11/18|