The Australian SuperSite Network: A continental, long-term terrestrial ecosystem observatory

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Journal Article
Science of the Total Environment, 2016, 568 pp. 1263 - 1274
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© 2016 Elsevier B.V. Ecosystem monitoring networks aim to collect data on physical, chemical and biological systems and their interactions that shape the biosphere. Here we introduce the Australian SuperSite Network that, along with complementary facilities of Australia's Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), delivers field infrastructure and diverse, ecosystem-related datasets for use by researchers, educators and policy makers. The SuperSite Network uses infrastructure replicated across research sites in different biomes, to allow comparisons across ecosystems and improve scalability of findings to regional, continental and global scales. This conforms with the approaches of other ecosystem monitoring networks such as Critical Zone Observatories, the U.S. National Ecological Observatory Network; Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems, Europe; Chinese Ecosystem Research Network; International Long Term Ecological Research network and the United States Long Term Ecological Research Network. The Australian SuperSite Network currently involves 10 SuperSites across a diverse range of biomes, including tropical rainforest, grassland and savanna; wet and dry sclerophyll forest and woodland; and semi-arid grassland, woodland and savanna. The focus of the SuperSite Network is on using vegetation, faunal and biophysical monitoring to develop a process-based understanding of ecosystem function and change in Australian biomes; and to link this with data streams provided by the series of flux towers across the network. The Australian SuperSite Network is also intended to support a range of auxiliary researchers who contribute to the growing body of knowledge within and across the SuperSite Network, public outreach and education to promote environmental awareness and the role of ecosystem monitoring in the management of Australian environments.
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