Contextual analysis of ecological change for Tasmania

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Ware, Chris; Williams, Kristen ORCID ID icon; Harwood, Tom; Ferrier, Simon




CSIRO has developed a suite of national-scale biodiversity change datasets using community-level modelling to support climate adaptation planning by Natural Resource Management groups. These datasets have been published in two ‘AdaptNRM’ modules with explanatory guides and maps ( The datasets were developed to show change in a national context. Given the ecological distinctiveness of Tasmania and surrounding islands, the State Government of Tasmania and Tasmanian NRMs requested CSIRO to minimally contextualise the measures of biodiversity change. The contextual measures used the same models and climate scenarios, and where calculations between locations were needed, made these over just the extent of Tasmania. This report summarises how these contextualise measures were developed with limited guidance on how to use the data. Further details are provided in the AdaptNRM explanatory guides, ‘implications for biodiversity’ ( and ‘helping biodiversity adapt’ ( This technical report should be read in conjunction with those guides and refers to just a subset of the range of measures originally provided and, specifically, those that can be updated with minimal effort to contextualise change for Tasmania. The contextual measures apply to two key dimensions of climate change: the degree to which available ecological environments will disappear, or novel ecological environments will form. Disappearing ecological environments are defined as “present-day ecological environments scaled by ecological similarity that may become absent from an entire region in the future”, whereas novel ecological environments are “possible new ecological environments scaled by ecological similarity that may arise in the future but which do not exist regionally at present”. The two dimensions are indicative of different types of pressure on species and ecosystems under climate change. Measures of disappearing and novel ecological environments were previously calculated at the national scale based on a series of comparisons made over the entire continent. An implicit assumption is that biological dispersal can occur across the geographical extent of the analysis over the period of the scenario (e.g., over 60 years from 1990 to 2050). To provide more contextual measures of ecological change for the geographically isolated State of Tasmania, we developed an additional series of analyses calculated for the Tasmanian extent only. The new datasets provide projections of ecological change for four taxonomic groups: amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and vascular plants. The underpinning community–level models are the same as those used in the national level assessments, derived using Australia-wide data. Ecological change was calculated based on projections using two separate climate models for the year 2050, both of which were forced by a ‘business as usual’ high emissions scenario (RCP 8.5), and are the same change scenarios used in the two ‘AdaptNRM’ modules. Little change (i.e. ecologically similar environments) between 1990 and 2050 in Tasmania is a dominant feature of the datasets. This result is similar to that found for Tasmania in the continental analyses, and reflects the high degree of ecological similarity projected between a location in 1990 and under a future climate scenario for 2050. Contextualising the disappearing and novel analyses for Tasmania provides additional insight into the spatial distribution and direction of where most regional ecological change is projected to occur between 1990 and 2050.

CSIRO Land and Water

Canberra, Australia

ecological change climate change Tasmania reptiles mammals vascular plants amphibians conservation assessment climate adaptation macroecological modelling genaralised dissimilarity modelling RCP 8.5 CanESM2 MIROC5

Community Ecology; Global Change Biology; Biogeography and Phylogeography; Ecological Impacts of Climate Change; Natural Resource Management; Applied Statistics

Published Version (pdf) (4.53MB)

This report has been placed on the CSIRO repository and may be made available to persons outside of CSIRO for non commercial purposes, in its entirety and without deletion of disclaimers and copyright information.


Client Report (Author)


Ware, Chris; Williams, Kristen; Harwood, Tom; Ferrier, Simon. Contextual analysis of ecological change for Tasmania. Canberra, Australia: CSIRO Land and Water; 2017. <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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