James Cook University has positioned itself as a research leader in tropical knowledge, tropical science and climate adaptation for the Asia-Pacific region. Documenting and explaining the occurrence and distribution of biodiversity in tropical Australia is a fundamental and long standing commitment at JCU with researchers studying the major threats to our tropical biodiversity including the impact of climate change on fauna of the tropics, and emerging infectious diseases in amphibian populations.
Management of tropical ecosystems, the conservation of genetic diversity, sustainable agriculture and land-use in the tropics are further research themes.
JCU is ranked in the top two Australian universities and top 30 in the world for Environmental Sciences and Ecology. JCU is also ranked in the top five Australian universities and top 61 in the world in Plant and Animal Science (US News and Global Report Rankings 2015).
Conservation planning is critical to protect biodiversity, ecosystem services, cultural heritage and recreation resources. Software developed by JCU researchers and described in the journal Science as the “gold standard” software in its field. It been successfully used for the planning of new reserves in Australia and internationally in South Africa, south-west China and the Amazon floodplain. Research findings into wildlife corridors led to more informed planning decisions.
Climate forecasting through RainForecaster, a user-friendly computer system developed by JCU researchers has saved sugar cane growers in north Queensland tens of thousands of dollars. In Papua New Guinea, the palm oil industry has increased its yield by 30%, following JCU research recommendations.
The environmental and economic consequences of climate change are all around us. Predictive knowledge is essential for managing green-house-induced change. Research at JCU will continue to contribute to the world’s understanding and knowledge of our tropical environment – and in turn provide tropical solutions to these environmental impacts.