Ecological and environmental research at UQ has had a direct impact on environmental policy and practice in Australia and internationally. These outcomes and the talented people behind them are recognised by the awarding of Australia’s highest scientific accolades, including three Eureka prizes, a Fenner Medal from the Australian Academy of Science, an Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellowship, seven ARC Future Fellows, an Australian Mathematical Society Medal, and three Fellows of the Australian Academy of Science.

UQ researchers have longstanding collaborations with some of the most influential environmental and scientific institutions in Australia and the world, including: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, World Bank, UNESCO, Royal Society of London, Global Environment Facility, Convention on Biodiversity, World Heritage Convention, IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), United Nations Environment Program, International Program on Chemical Safety, World Health Organization and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences USA.

UQ seeks to understand the impacts of humans, the environment and climate on marine and terrestrial ecosystems and the best way to apply this knowledge to management practice. Our research is tackling ecological interactions, environmental modelling, marine science, landscape ecology, biodiversity conservation, insect pest management and biological control environmental monitoring and evaluation, environmental policy evaluation, environmental toxicology and landscape restoration.

Research occurs at:

  • Faculty of Science
  • National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (Entox)
  • School of Population Health
  • Sustainable Minerals Institute
  • Global Change Institute 

UQ has particular expertise in the areas of:

  • Ecology and Ecological Applications
  • Environmental Science and Management
  • Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience

Ecology and Environmental Science in brief

  • More than 110 full-time equivalent researchers, with collaborators in fields including Agriculture and Food Sciences, and Environmental Engineering and Water Management
  • More than 30 PhD and MPhil students in 2014, alongside 620 research students in the closely aligned area of Biological Sciences
  • More than 1560 publications since 2008
  • More than $118.5 million in research funding since 2008
  • Ecology and Ecological Applications research rated at the highest level – well above world standard – in the 2012 Excellence in Research for Australia exercise
  • Infrastructure
    • outstanding sub-tropical and tropical marine and terrestrial field research facilities at Heron Island, North Stradbroke Island and Pinjarra Hills
    • specialised laboratories for ultra-trace analysis of organic and inorganic contaminants.

Highlights of UQ Ecology and Environmental Science

Ecology at UQ studies the interactions of living organisms and informs conservation decisions

  • The Ecology Centre boasts the most productive association of ecological researchers in Australia and is ranked 5th in the world. It has three modern, fully equipped field research facilities (Moreton Bay, the Great Barrier Reef and Brisbane) at which marine and terrestrial field and laboratory work is conducted.

  • UQ’s Global Change Institute (GCI), led by world-renowned marine biologist Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, seeks to find progressive solutions to global problems. Research from GCI has had a direct impact on coral reef management and it is currently the chief scientific partner of the Catlin Seaview Survey, the first survey to study the world’s oceans to depths of 100 metres.

  • The Landscape Ecology and Conservation Group tackles globally important environmental management questions such as climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation in human-modified landscapes using cutting-edge spatial analysis.

Environmental science and management at UQ contributes to the protection of our natural landscapes

  • The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) – headed by the esteemed Professor Hugh Possingham – tackles the key gaps in environmental decision-making, monitoring and management. Outcomes from his group have had a direct impact on Australian land clearing practices. Their data were used to create the Australian Economic Zone – a reserve system larger than 3 million square kilometres.
  • The Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation (CMLR) is internationally recognised for its research excellence in the rehabilitation of land disturbed by mining and mineral processing activities. The disciplinary breadth and depth of the Centre addresses the environmental challenges of the minerals industry and it currently engages with more than 30 companies and organisations globally. The integration of expertise from across the Sustainable Minerals Institute contributes the science necessary to ensure the actions and decisions of companies and governments minimise the risks and potential impacts of mining on environmental and social values.

  • Conservation management approaches developed by UQ researchers have been adopted in Australian conservation policy and practice contributing to threatened species and protected area management. Work on evaluation of conservation effectiveness has been adopted by international environmental conventions and has been widely applied nationally and globally with more than 10,000 assessments undertaken in protected areas around the world.

  • The National Research Centre for Environmental Toxicology (Entox) provides leading-edge science to improve human health through healthy environments. UQ investigations of the sources, fate, exposure and effects of chemicals contribute to global activities directed under the Stockholm Convention, UNEP and WHO, and influence associated Australian and international guidelines and policies aiming to protect the environment and human health.

Physical geography and environmental geoscience at UQ provides users with reliable and informed environmental data

  • The biophysical remote sensing group at UQ uses remotely sensed data, fieldwork and spatial models to measure, map and monitor biophysical properties in terrestrial, atmospheric and aquatic environments. This research provides organisations with techniques to turn satellite and airborne images and field survey data into meaningful analyses to feed into planning and management.

  • Earth Sciences expertise is particularly strong in environmental geochemistry and geochronology, with strong links to major state and national initiatives including the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, the Queensland Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, the Centre for Coal Seam Gas, and the Centre for Marine Science.

  • Researchers clustered within the Palaeo Research Hub contribute to studies of environmental, climatic and ecological changes over broad timescales.