A project undertaken at the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, and supervised by Aaron Greenville
Biodiversity contributes to agricultural production. However, the ecosystem benefits from remnant patches of vegetation and native pastures are still largely undervalued as part of on-farm practices.
A key gap in knowledge is to better understand how native pasture species, or more biodiverse farmlands, may contribute to the resilience of pastures under environmental change. In particular, the severe droughts experienced in southern Australia over the late 20th and early 21st centuries are adding to the stressors on pastures, which are already at risk owing to their intensity of use and simplified structure. Thus, the increasing intensity of extreme droughts may push vegetation to conditions beyond those to which they are adapted.
This project aims to address the significant knowledge gap of how species composition may change due to extreme drought, and in-turn, quantify the loss of ecosystem function resulting from species turnover. Further, this project will identify species that contribute the most to function. Results from this study will provide land managers, in both the agricultural and environmental sectors, the critical knowledge of how natural and human-modified systems will be impacted by more frequent and extreme drought events in order to maintain food security and biodiversity.