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
  • Dr Jane DeGabriel, University of Western Sydney, 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 Dale Nimmo, Charles Sturt University, NSW
  • 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:

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.

Climate Change: trees under pressure

Global changes in climate are having a significant impact on forested ecosystems, causing increases in tree mortality rates, and decreases in tree growth and health.

Climate Change. Marine range shifts in SE Australia

Scientific evidence suggests that the world’s oceans are warming at an accelerated rate due to anthropogenic activities. Waters off the south-east coast of Australia are warming almost four times the global average, caused in part by the strengthening of the East Australian Current.

Climate change: alters plant recruitment from seed

Most plant species rely on seeds for recruitment and persistence in the landscape. Local environments have a strong influence on seed germination and so shifts in temperature and moisture caused by rapid environmental change may affect when, where and whether plants will recruit.