North Queensland Rainforest canopy

Biodiversity and ecology overview

CSIRO research is helping maintain our rich biodiversity and strike a balance between human development and conservation.

  • 1 December 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Sustainable management of our ecosystems and the rich life within them remains one of the key natural resource management challenges.

It is vital we maintain and sustain our biodiversity for a number of reasons:

  • biodiversity provides us with many natural products including food, medicines and timber
  • ecosystems underpin many of our natural resources and provide services such as clean water, healthy soil and pollination of crops
  • many people find enjoyment from the range of leisure activities undertaken in the natural environment.

Yet, plant and animal species are being lost from landscapes where their habitats are being cleared, fragmented and simplified.

Plant and animal species are being lost where their habitats are being cleared, fragmented and simplified.

CSIRO is finding ways to preserve and restore biodiversity and looking to create a balance between human development and conservation.  We are also researching the ways in which species interact to maintain healthy ecosystems.

Understanding, conserving and providing information for the management of the ecological processes is a key goal for CSIRO’s researchers.

Biological collections

The CSIRO Australian Biological Collections contribute to the discovery,  conservation and responsible use of Australia’s biodiversity through species collections that are comprehensive, secure, well curated and accessible.

CSIRO manages several biological collections, including the:

  • Australian National Wildlife Collection (ANWC), specialising in land vertebrates
  • Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC)
  • Australian National Fish Collection (ANFC)
  • Australian National Herbarium (ANH), specialising in our native plants.

Conserving biodiversity

We are researching native plants and how to conserve landscapes to sustain biodiversity and maintain the benefits of an ecosystem that supports rural and urban communities. We analyse potential methods that encourage landholders to provide ecosystem services that benefit the wider community, such as pest control or waste reduction.

Threatened species

Research by CSIRO and partners into threatened species has resulted in greater understanding of the reasons for their decline and has successfully developed techniques to re-establish rare and endangered Australian mammals.

Aquatic ecology

Rivers and estuaries around the world are in crisis. In Australia, many rivers are stressed, threatening both water supply and water quality. Meanwhile, our estuaries also show telltale signs of degradation.

The Rivers and Estuaries Directorate aims to deliver solutions for rivers and estuaries that will sustain these vital ecosystems. We focus on the environmental implications of water allocation strategies, water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

CSIRO’s expertise in detecting magnetic fields is being applied to mapping the ocean floor, charting currents, wave detection and tsunami early-warning devices. The technology may even be used to track schools of aquatic animals.

Healthy regions and communities

We are also providing rural and regional communities with options to help guide sustainable development by investigating the best ways to use limited resources and develop partnerships to promote community development.

Find out more about the Environment.