How will Australia’s unique species of plants and animals react to the greenhouse-enhanced climates of the future? Students at Monash University’s Centre for Geography and Environmental Science have been answering this question using the powerful mapping and prediction functions freely available in the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA). Dr Simon Connor introduced a new practical exercise to his first-year classes after attending the ALA Symposium in Canberra in 2013: “I arrived at the symposium not knowing much about the Atlas of Living Australia and left inspired by the enormous possibilities it provides for teaching, research and community involvement. There’s nothing else like this in the world.” During a two-hour practical, students look at how climate change affects some of Australia’s species, including ringtail, brushtail and mountain pygmy possums and endemic plants such as the majestic Southern Beech and the diminutive Bogong Eyebright. In collaboration with the ALA team, Monash University has released the practical exercise publicly to encourage educators around Australia to develop and share their own ALA-based teaching resources to inform the public and foster the next generation of ecologists.
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