The Institute has a reputation for world class research with an applied focus. We engage with on-ground managers and policy makers to solve environmental problems. We pride ourselves on the interdisciplinary nature of our work, and span a broad range of expertise.
The Institute operates within two specialised centres: the Centre for Conservation Ecology and Genetics, and the Centre for Applied Water Science.
Genetics and Genomics
Our genetics and genomics research brings the power of new DNA technologies to bear on central questions in ecology and evolution. We engage in detailed examination of epigenetic factors in plants and animals to unveil the mysteries surrounding the interaction of genes and the environment. By combining genetic and genomic analysis with whole organism and field studies we can discover the role genetic processes have in determining basic life histories and characteristics such as sex determination or disease resistance.
The Wildlife Genetics team at the IAE have a broad range of expertise from traditional population genetics through to eDNA and genomic tools. Applying DNA technologies for biodiversity and conservation outcomes is a prime focus of the team. We combine genomic trace DNA and DNA genotyping to probe the historical phylogeography of Australasian fauna and to solve problems of forensic and ecological importance.
Traditional methods of species monitoring can be expensive and challenging. However researchers at the IAE have developed sensitive and cost-effective methods to confirm if a species is present in an area. This method uses traces of DNA that species leave behind in the environment, e.g. scats, tissues and freshwater samples, and is called Environmental DNA or eDNA. Applications include detection of invaders, or rare species of conservation concern. Our team are experts in sample collection, processing and analysis.
Our water science team aims to increase our understanding of freshwater systems to better inform management and policy decisions.
We study the fundamental ecology of Australia's freshwater systems and apply this knowledge to environmental problems. Increasingly our researchers work in partnerships across disciplines, research organisations and agencies to generate integrated solutions to water science challenges.
Our Conservation Ecology team carries out research that underpins conservation management, providing knowledge and tools to manage threats to Australia’s native biodiversity. Our research focusses on how plants and animal communities function; their response to changes brought about by processes such as land transformation, the spread of alien species, and changes to climate, fire and nutrient cycles; and how this understanding can be applied to most effectively manage or mitigate those impacts.
Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology
Our environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology researchers have particular strengths in freshwater and marine chemistry, cycling of nutrients, metals and metalloids through aquatic ecosystems, and ecotoxicology. Of special interest to the group are the transport and fate of trace elements in the environment, including water, sediment, dust and biota. Our researchers are experienced in the sampling and analysis of a wide range of sample types.