TERN is excited to announce the launch of a new open-access data product created to support research on plant diversity.

As described in the latest edition of Scientific Data, TERN have just released a new dataset that lists the photosynthetic pathway of every vascular plant species recorded across 541 TERN monitoring plots between 2011 and 2017. This includes >2400 species, many of which are only found in Australia.


The variations in how plants convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbohydrates (C6H12O6)—called photosynthetic pathways—have an enormous impact on species productivity, abundance, and distribution.

For example, plants with a ‘C3’ pathway have evolved to survive in cool, more temperate habitats, while ‘C4’ and ‘CAM’ (crassulacean acid metabolism) plants are better adapted to hot and potentially highly stressful conditions.

This means they will exhibit starkly different responses to daily, seasonal, and long-term changes in factors like temperature, rainfall, soil salinity, or fire regimes.

The presence and abundance of C4 and C3 plants also strongly influences carbon and energy fluctuations, CO2 storage potential, and the structure and diversity of bacterial, fungal and animal communities. Given their ecological importance, the evolution of these different pathways and how they respond to change, in different ecosystems is a focal point of modern terrestrial research.

TERN intends to update the dataset as they increase their plot monitoring network and new species are recorded across the country.

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