The Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) is based at James Cook University (JCU), Australia's leading tropical research university.

Our mission is to promote cutting-edge ecological and environmental research in the tropics, and the wise management, conservation and sustainable use of tropical terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, in Australia and internationally.

Latest news


TESS’s Sean Ulm and Michael Bird provide map to find Australia—50,000 years ago

TESS’s Sean Ulm and Michael Bird provide map to find Australia—50,000 years ago

Research shows for the first time that colonisation of Australia by 50,000 years ago was achieved by a globally significant phase of purposeful and coordinated marine voyaging.

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TESS’s Bill Laurance calls China’s global infrastructure scheme “worst environmental threat today"

TESS’s Bill Laurance calls China’s global infrastructure scheme “worst environmental threat today"

China is planning a series of massive infrastructure projects across four continents, an initiative that conservation biologist William Laurance described as “environmentally, the riskiest venture ever undertaken.”

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TESS team discovers origin of pathogen that has decimated Earth’s frogs

TESS team discovers origin of pathogen that has decimated Earth’s frogs

New research has revealed a deadly disease that threatens the survival of the world's frogs originated from East Asia, and global trade was almost certainly responsible for the disease's spread.

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Outstanding Research

TESS research addresses the pressing, complex, trans-disciplinary and interconnected issues of S3D – Sustainability Science and Sustainable Development – across the tropical world


JCU is the only Australian university to receive the highest ranking of 5 (well above World Standard) in Environmental Science and Management in the Australian Government’s Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment for every round.

JCU's unique location enables researchers and students from Australia and overseas to work in a diverse physical environment unparalleled by any university in the world. Nowhere else is it possible to visit reef, rainforest and savanna in a single day, returning to world-class laboratory facilities in a vibrant and attractive tropical city.