The SEQ Peri-urban SuperSite’s core infrastructure is located along two longitudinal transects north and south of Brisbane where the urban footprint is expanding the most rapidly.

The Pine transect to the north of Brisbane extends from the upper reaches of the Pine River catchment through Samford Valley to Central Moreton Bay.

It focuses on the impact of urban development and low frequency, high flow (ephemeral) events on terrestrial biogeochemistry and downstream east-west transect in recent years and will complement hydrological and biogeochemistry monitoring.

Map showing existing and proposed infrastructure for the Pine and Logan transects. Background image from Google.

Background

Rapid population growth in SEQ is expected to continue particularly in peri-urban areas.

The development, transformation of land use and exploitation of resources associated with this population growth will intensify the pressure on catchment, aquatic and coastal environments, potentially leading to significant habitat fragmentation, water quality issues, biodiversity loss and loss of economic and amenity values. The vulnerability of SEQ’s high biodiversity ecosystems will be compounded by climate change in the region.

The two nodes of the SEQ Peri-urban SuperSite in the Samford Valley and the Albert Logan provide contrasting catchments for assessing the impact of urbanisation on water quantity, quality and biodiversity and are applicable to many locations in coastal Australia.

The SEQ Peri-urban SuperSite will assess the impact of urbanisation, development and subsequent fragmentation of the landscape on selected terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemical processes and their impact on faunal biodiversity and overall ecosystem health.

It will integrate existing data and deploy infrastructure to both complement and automate acquisition of key environmental data within SEQ catchments and examine alterations to carbon, nitrogen, water and energy balances and biodiversity in contrasting native and managed ecosystems typical of the landscape mosaic and their impact on air and water quality within peri-urban ecosystems.

Key research questions

  • Can ecosystem services be maintained in an urbanising environment?
  • How do carbon and energy balances change under different land uses in transition from a natural dry sclerophyll forest to a peri-urban area?
  • What impact will Brisbane’s peri-urban development have on water and greenhouse gases (carbon) and surrounding vegetation?
  • What are the long-term effects of urbanisation on remnant vegetation?
  • How will changes in the climate, land-use (e.g. from rural to residential) and soil nutrient balances affect water leaving the catchment?
  • How can bio-acoustics be used for measuring ecosystem health?

Samford Ecological Research Facility (SERF)

Listening to the Soundscape: A Day at the Samford Ecological Research Facility, Samford, Queensland

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SERF (managed by the Institute for Sustainable Resources, QUT) is the northern node and lies in the peri-urban area fringing metropolitan Brisbane in the Samford Valley. The valley comprises a mosaic of natural resources; native flora and fauna; significant landscapes; as well as supporting urban, agricultural and recreational land uses. SERF represents the last tract of remnant vegetation in this region. The main forest types are open Eucalypt and notophyll vine forest.

SuperSite installations

  • carbon dioxide and water flux station (or eddy flux co-variance)
  • automated greenhouse gas monitoring chambers
  • weather station
  • acoustic sensor technologies
  • water quality sensors
  • gauging station to measure discharge
  • soil water content and electrical conductivity depth sensors

For more information on SERF research and facilities: www.serf.qut.edu.au/seq_pu_supersite/research/

A wide range of historical and contextual research data from SERF is available, including: Aerial images; environmental monitoring; fauna database, flora database, GIS/GPS data, geology and hydrology.

The Logan and Albert river estuary

The Logan and Albert river estuary sub-location (managed by CSIRO) lies to the south of Brisbane.

Monitoring within the Albert-Logan catchment focuses on aquatic biogeochemistry and biodiversity in a woodland and cropping environment on the cusp of residential development including the inception of the Wyaralong Dam. High-frequency biogeochemical and ecological studies are under way to help scientists understand why these rivers contribute such high loads of nitrogen and sediment into Moreton Bay. Permanent measurement stations have been established in both rivers to provide continuous water quality and flow data. The stations consist of physico-chemical sensors to measure temperature, pH (degree of acidity or alkalinity), Eh (the redox, or reduction-oxidation, character of the water), conductivity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, chlorophyll, blue green algae, CDOM and nitrate. There is also a velocity Doppler to measure river flow and height. These measurements will help researchers to quantify land-use change.

Map showing existing and proposed infrastructure for the Logan transects. Background image from Google.

SuperSite instrumentation

Velocity and discharge (Argonaut SL500)

Physical Chemical instrumentation
  • Turbidity (Analite NEP 9000)
  • Greenspan Pressure transducer
  • Salinity (Falmouth CTD Bio)
  • YSI Sonde (pH, EC, Temp, DO, Chlorophyll, Phycocyanin)
Deployable
  • Optical package Wetlabs ACS, BB9, WQM, CDOM
  • ISUS Nitrate sensor
  • PCO2 and CH4 Licor and Picarro

Water quality data can be accessed from the TERN Australian Coastal Ecosystems Facility, Coastal Data Portal.

Water quality data for the Logan and Albert river estuaries are available from 2008 onwards.

Karawatha SuperSite

Between January and September of 2007 a Program for Planned Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research (PPBio) grid was established as a long-term ecological research site (LTER) in Eucalypt forest at Karawatha Forest Park in Brisbane, Queensland Australia. The grid was arbitrarily placed to cover the reserve and includes approximately 33 km of fixed transects and 33 fixed plots.

Karawatha Forest is on the southern peri-urban edge of Brisbane and is managed by the Brisbane City Council. It contains a variety of habitats from freshwater lagoons and sandstone ridges, to dry eucalypt forests and wet heath.

Thirty three LTER plots (1ha each) have been established.

All 33 plots have been surveyed and data uploaded for:

  • Vegetation (>1cm DBH) Composition and Abundance
  • Biomass & Carbon Estimation
  • Soil
  • Topography
  • Birds
  • Frogs
  • Lizards
  • Small Mammals
  • Tree Hollows
  • Koala Scats
Site Details
Site Location Karawatha Forest, Brisbane, South East Queensland.
Site Area 900 hectares
Site Elevation 80 - 100m above sea level
Annual Rainfalli 1,129.90mm mean annual rainfall (Logan city: 1992 - 2006, 15years)
Average Rainfall - Wettest Quarter 134.2mm
Average Rainfall - Driest Quarter 36.1mm
Average Minimum Temperature 8.6 oC in winter and 20.3 oC in summer
Average Maximum Temperature 21.4 oC in winter and 29.8 oC in summer

Photosphere view of Karawatha forest (photo P. Scarth)

Facilities

  • Vehicle access is provided on several sides of the forest.
  • Toilet blocks,
  • walking tracks,
  • Laboratory facilities available nearby at Griffith University campuses.

Research and Data Management

  • All data collected is made publicly available within 2 years.
  • PPBio provides a web site www.griffith.edu.au/ppbio to act as a hub for the storage and dissemination of data.

Photosphere of TERN AusCover terrestrial laser scanning campaign in Karawatha forest (photo P. Scarth)

TERN AusCover activities at the SEQ Peri-urban SuperSite

AusCover has run airborne LiDAR and hyperspectral and ground LiDAR campaigns at Samford and Karawatha nodes. Phenocams are utilised to integrate flux measurements and phenology to understand the impacts of climate change on Australian landscapes.

AusCover data is available from the AusCover Visualisation Portal and will also be available from the TERN Data Discovery Portal.

Slideshare presentation: Phenocam Network: Australian Phenology Product Validation: Phenocam Network (2014) K. Davies, M. Liddell, N. Weiand, C. Macfarlane, J. Byrne, V. R. des Dios, M. Boer, C. Maeir, N. Boulain, J. Cleverly, D. Eamus, G. Koerber and W. S. Meyer.

TERN eMAST activities at the SEQ Peri-urban SuperSite

Plant ecophysiological measurements are being collected across a number of the TERN SuperSites including SEQP by Owen Atkin's team (ANU) in a collaboration with TERN's eMAST facility. The aim is to look at ecosystem hydrology, net CO2 exchange and primary productivity in wet/dry and winter/summer.

Slideshare presentation: Plant ecophysiological measurements at TERN SuperSites. 2013. O. Atkin, K. Bloomfield, L. Weerasinghe.

TERN OzFlux at the SEQ Peri-urban SuperSite

OzFlux maintains the flux tower instrumentation that continuously measures exchanges of carbon dioxide, water vapour and energy between the terrestrial ecosystem and atmosphere.

Flux data is available from the OzFlux data portal.

Facilities for Researchers and Educational Visitors

Access to the Samford node research site and facilities can be arranged by application to the QUT SERF Research Committee.

Education and Outreach

Education Activities

The Samford Ecological Research Facility is used for research and undergraduate field trips from the Queensland University of Technology Faculties of Science and Technology, Built Environment and Engineering and the Faculty of Creative Industries. These field trips have involved terrestrial and aquatic invertebrate and vertebrate sampling, bird surveys, mammal trapping and various soil and vegetation surveys.

Postgraduate Projects and Post-docs associated with the South East Queensland Peri-Urban SuperSite

Karawatha
  • James Cifuentes (Honours), Supervisor Prof Clyde Wild (Griffith). Ant ecology in Karawatha forest.
  • Emily Flower (Honours), Supervisor Prof Darryl Jones (Griffith). Development of guidelines for regional scale Citizen Science projects using Koala Quest 2015 as the study focus.

Stakeholders and User Groups

Participants