Hot Topics

Hot Topics in Ecology are evidence-based syntheses of topics that are relevant to environmental policy development, land management and to broadening the community's ecological knowledge base. Hot Topics aim to deliver timely, factual overviews that promote the application of scientifically defensible ecological knowledge in public debate.

Each Hot Topic consists of a one-page summary and a data-base of peer-reviewed literature. Arguments put forward in the one-page summary are supported by evidence listed in the literature data-base.

ESA members can contribute to Hot Topics by:

Creating a Hot Topic (suggest new Hot Topic button below)

Contributing new research to a Hot Topic (submit supporting evidence button on each HT summary page)

Communicating an existing Hot Topic, online or through other media

ESA members who contribute new reviews to existing Hot Topics should notify the primary author if the 300 word summary requires updating in light of the new evidence (cc to

Hot Topics is governed by an editorial board consisting of ecologists from around Australia.

Chair, Hot Topics Editorial Board

  • Dr Rachel Standish, Murdoch University, WA

Editorial Board

  • Dr Alan Andersen, CSIRO, NT
  • Dr Jane Catford, University of Melbourne, VIC
  • Prof. Don Driscoll, Deakin University, VIC
  • Dr David Duncan, University of Melbourne, VIC
  • Prof. Emma Johnston, University of New South Wales, NSW
  • Dr Bronwyn Fancourt, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, QLD
  • Dr Rodrigo Hamede, University of Tasmania, TAS
  • Dr Brett Murphy, Charles Darwin University, NT
  • Dr Euan Ritchie, Deakin University, VIC
  • Dr Christine Schlesinger, Charles Darwin University, NT
  • A/Prof. Peter Vesk, University of Melbourne, VIC
  • A/Prof. Grant Wardell-Johnson, Curtin University of Technology, WA
  • Prof. Glenda Wardle, University of Sydney, NSW

Current Hot Topics:

What does the Paris agreement mean for Australia’s ecosystems?

As the climate warms Australia's ecosystems are experiencing stresses with sometimes catastrophic consequences, such as mass deaths of flying foxes in Queensland during heat waves and severe bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

A drop in the ocean: marine fish releases in Australia

Release of fish bred in aquaculture into the ocean to enhance marine fisheries has expanded rapidly over the last 20 years, driven by declining fish stocks in Asia and increasing recreational fishing pressure in western countries.

Regional Forest Agreements fail to meet their aims

The Federal-State Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) were signed from 1997-2001 and are due for renewal. However, the environmental and economic aims of RFAs have not been met despite mandatory review of progress at 5 and 10 years into the 20-year terms.

Australia’s Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests need attention

Seasonally dry tropical forests are among the least studied of tropical forests. However, in recent years these forests have become recognized as an endangered global biome of great economic and cultural importance.

Glyphosate herbicide: is it as safe as we thought?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of more than 750 herbicides, is the most widely used herbicide in Australia (15,000 tons/y) and worldwide (826,000 tons/y).

Managing fire for plant and animal conservation

Variation in the time between fires, their severity, size and patchiness, and the season in which they occur is called ‘pyrodiversity’.

Fire-driven loss of obligate seeder forests in the Alps

Alpine ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis) and the related mountain ash (E. regnans) are tall forest trees endemic to the mountains of southeastern Australia. Unlike most eucalypts, they do not readily resprout following fire. They regenerate from seed (i.e.

Managing tensions around urban flying-fox roosts

Flying-foxes are large bats that feed on nectar, pollen and fruit at night, and roost by day in colonies in the thousands.

Climate change: Alpine shrubs as ecosystem engineers

Worldwide, shrub cover is increasing across alpine tundra. In Australia, alpine shrub increases match a trend spanning four decades of rising temperatures and declining snowpack.

At high densities kangaroo grazing can reduce biodiversity

Over-grazing by herbivores can simplify the structure, composition and function of vegetation communities by reducing vegetation cover and diversity, increasing soil degradation and driving biodiversity loss.