Rebecca M. B. Harris

Rebecca M. B. Harris
University of Tasmania · Discipline of Geography & Spatial Sciences

PhD

About

55
Publications
16,994
Reads
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1,486
Citations
Citations since 2017
20 Research Items
1269 Citations
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Introduction
Rebecca’s research interests are in the area of climate change impacts on biodiversity, species distributions and ecology. In the past her research has focused on the interaction between micro, meso and macro scale climate variability and its impact on thermoregulation in invertebrate species. She is currently using downscaled climate projections to study changes to the distributions of species and communities, and changes in fuel loads and fire danger under a changing climate.
Additional affiliations
December 2011 - present
Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre
Position
  • Climate Research Fellow
January 2005 - December 2011
University of Tasmania
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (55)
Article
Full-text available
Climate change impacts on water security in global drylands One Earth In Press, Corrected Proof Published online: June 11, 2021 Lindsay C. Stringer Alisher Mirzabaev Tor A. Benjaminsen Rebecca M.B. Harris Mostafa Jafari Tabea K. Lissner and others
Article
Water scarcity affects 1–2 billion people globally, most of whom live in drylands. Under projected climate change, millions more people will be living under conditions of severe water stress in the coming decades. This review examines observed and projected climate change impacts on water security across the world's drylands to the year 2100. We fi...
Article
Full-text available
Crop models were originally developed for application at the field scale but are increasingly used to assess the impact of climate and/or agronomic practices on crop growth and yield and water dynamics at larger scales. This raises the question of how data aggregation approaches affect outputs when using crop models at large spatial scales. This st...
Article
Full-text available
Lightning strikes are pervasive, however, their distributions vary both spatially and in time, resulting in a complex pattern of lightning-ignited wildfires. Over the last decades, lightning-ignited wildfires have become an increasing threat in south-east Australia. Lightning in combination with drought conditions preceding the fire season can incr...
Article
Full-text available
As the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as droughts, heatwaves and floods have increased over recent decades, more extreme biological responses are being reported, and there is widespread interest in attributing such responses to anthropogenic climate change. However, the formal detection and attribution of biological responses to cli...
Article
Input data aggregation affects crop model estimates at the regional level. Previous studies have focused on the impact of aggregating climate data used to compute crop yields. However, little is known about the combined data aggregation effect of climate (DAEc) and soil (DAEs) on irrigation water requirement (IWR) in cool-temperate and spatially he...
Presentation
Full-text available
Input data aggregation influences crop model estimates at the regional level. Previous studies have focused on the impact of aggregating the climate data used to compute crop yields. Little is known about the combined data aggregation effect of climate (DAEc) and soil (DAEs) model inputs. This study explores the implications of using coarse resolut...
Article
Full-text available
River floodplains provide a large number of ecosystem services (ESSs) for human societies. However, human manipulations of rivers and floodplains have led to the loss of many ESSs, including the provision of habitats for typical floodplain flora and fauna. To quantify such losses, we present a new index, which incorporates the functional and struct...
Article
Full-text available
Invertebrate pests often show high morphological variation and wide environmental tolerances. Knowledge of how phenotypic variation is associated with environmental heterogeneity can elucidate the processes underpinning these patterns. Here we examine morphological variation and relative abundance along environmental gradients in a widespread agric...
Article
Full-text available
In the version of this Perspective originally published, affiliations 1 and 4 ware incorrect, and should have read: “¹Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia” and “⁴Centre for Water, Climate and Land (CWCL), University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW, Australia”. These have been corrected in the online v...
Article
Full-text available
The interaction of gradual climate trends and extreme weather events since the turn of the century has triggered complex and, in some cases, catastrophic ecological responses around the world. We illustrate this using Australian examples within a press-pulse framework. Despite the Australian biota being adapted to high natural climate variability,...
Article
Full-text available
Changes to the frequency of fire due to management decisions and climate change have the potential to affect the flammability of vegetation, with long-term effects on the vegetation structure and composition. Frequent fire in some vegetation types can lead to transformational change beyond which the vegetation type is radically altered. Such feedba...
Article
Full-text available
Restoration of ecosystems can mitigate the global loss of biodiversity and provide essential ecological functions and services. Although trait composition and functional diversity (FD) are important tools in assessing recovery processes, very few restoration projects use them to evaluate restoration success. Consequently, little is known about trai...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Observations have shown a clear increase in maximum and minimum temperature, and a decrease in rainfall and snow for the Australian Alps. Available future snow projections from different projects also demonstrate decreases in snow cover, snow depth and snow season in the future. In order to adapt to declining natural snow cover, snow making is play...
Article
Anthropogenic change (climate change and habitat fragmentation) is driving a growing view that local seed collections may need to be supplemented with nonlocal seed as a strategy to bolster genetic diversity and thus increase evolutionary potential of plantings. While this strategy is becoming widely promoted, empirical support is limited, and ther...
Article
Full-text available
A framework for identifying species that may become invasive under future climate conditions is presented, based on invader attributes and biogeography in combination with projections of future climate. We illustrate the framework using the CLIMEX niche model to identify future climate suitability for three species of Hawkweed that are currently pr...
Article
Assessing future changes in the suitability of the climate niche for interacting species across different trophic levels can identify direct and indirect effects of climate change that may be missed using single-species approaches. We use ensembles of species distribution models based on a dynamically down-scaled regional climate model to project t...
Article
Fire is a complex process involving interactions and feedbacks between biological, socioeconomic, and physical drivers across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This complexity limits our ability to incorporate fire into Earth system models and project future fire activity under climate change. Conceptual, empirical, and process models have iden...
Article
Full-text available
This paper examines conservation objectives in Australian law in the context of climate change. The rate of climate change and the scale and extent of its impacts on natural systems drive the need to re-evaluate current conservation objectives, from basic concept definitions, to overarching goals and values, to the way they are operationalized at a...
Technical Report
Our natural resource base is the primary source of our wealth and well-being. This means that looking after land, water and the other species with which we share the country underpins sustainability. Although there are some good news stories, widespread trends of continuing degradation indicate that we are unlikely to pass on the country to future...
Article
Fine-scale landscape features such as scattered trees are increasingly thought to be critical for dispersal, and need to be considered in connectivity modelling and planning. Yet existing modelling approaches struggle to adequately take fine-scale features and threshold dynamics of dispersal behaviour into account, in part because of computational...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Effective conservation of threatened ecological communities requires knowledge of where climatically suitable habitat is likely to persist into the future. We use the critically endangered Lowland Grassland community of Tasmania, Australia as a case study to identify options for management in cases where future climatic conditions beco...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Spatial prioritisation for NRM in Australia aims to support decisions about where scarce resources should be invested to create the best possible outcomes. Many NRM objectives or goals require identification of regions and then localities for such investment. This guide was developed through action research with Tasmanian NRM organisations to help...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Our natural resource base is the primary source of our wealth and well-being. This means that looking after land, water and the other species with which we share the country underpins sustainability. Although there are some good news stories, widespread trends of continuing degradation indicate that we are unlikely to pass on the country to future...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Fire danger has increased in recent decades, and is projected to increase further with global warming. We assessed the regional changes in fire danger that are projected to occur in Tasmania through to 2100 under a high emissions scenario. In contrast with previous continental–scale studies which show little change in Tasmanian fire danger, our res...
Data
Data S2. Code for SDM Uncertainty Simulation.
Data
Appendix S1. Detailed description and discussion of the uncertainty simulation process (NB: Appendix includes “Figure 1 Matrix of uncertainty in six global climate models”).
Data
Data S1. SDM Uncertainty Simulation Tutorial.
Article
Full-text available
1 Tools for exploring and communicating the impact of uncertainty on spatial prediction are urgently needed, particularly when projecting species distributions to future conditions. 2 We provide a tool for simulating uncertainty, focusing on uncertainty due to data quality. We illustrate the use of the tool using a Tasmanian endemic species as a ca...
Article
Full-text available
Choice of variables, climate models and emissions scenarios all influence the results of species distribution models under future climatic conditions. However, an overview of applied studies suggests that the uncertainty associated with these factors is not always appropriately incorporated or even considered. We examine the effects of choice of va...
Article
Full-text available
Climate projections are essential for studying ecological responses to climate change, and their use is now common in ecology. However, the lack of integration between ecology and climate science has restricted understanding of the available climate data and their appropriate use. We provide an overview of climate model outputs and issues that need...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods The long-term viability of highly fragmented threatened communities depends on the climate remaining suitable into the future. Changing climatic suitability may lead to shifts in the distribution of some or all species, resulting in an altered community with a different composition, structure and, possibly, function....
Article
Full-text available
Loss of forest cover is a likely consequence of climate change in many parts of the world. To test the vulnerability of eucalypt forests in Australia’s island state of Tasmania, we modelled tree canopy cover in the period 2070–2099 under a high-emission scenario using the current climate–canopy cover relationship in conjunction with output from a d...
Article
Full-text available
Projected changes to the global climate system have great implications for the incidence of large infrequent fires in many regions. Here we examine the synoptic-scale and local-scale influences on the incidence of extreme fire weather days and consider projections of the large-scale mean climate to explore future fire weather projections. We focus...
Article
Daily values of McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index were generated at ~10-km resolution over Tasmania, Australia, from six dynamically downscaled CMIP3 climate models for 1961–2100, using a high (A2) emissions scenario. Multi-model mean fire danger validated well against observations for 2002–2012, with 99th percentile fire dangers having the same di...
Article
Full-text available
Climate projections are essential for studying ecological responses to climate change, and their use is now common in ecology. However, the lack of integration between ecology and climate science has restricted understanding of the available climate data and their appropriate use. We provide an overview of climate model outputs and issues that need...
Article
Full-text available
Phenotypic plasticity is a key trait of successful pest species, and may increase the ability to cope with higher, more variable temperatures under climate change. We investigate the plasticity of preferred temperature in a widespread agricultural pest, the wingless grasshopper (Phaulacridium vittatum). Preferred temperature is a measure of thermor...
Article
Full-text available
Species distribution models (SDMs) are commonly used to project future changes in the geographic ranges of species,to estimate extinction rates and to plan biodiversity conservation. However, these models can produce a range of results depending on how they are parameterized, and over-reliance on a single model may lead to overconfidence in maps of...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Altitudinal clines in melanism are generally assumed to reflect the fitness benefits resulting from thermal differences between colour morphs, yet differences in thermal quality are not always discernible. The intra-specific application of the thermal melanism hypothesis was tested in the wingless grasshopper Phaulacridium vittatum (Sjöste...
Article
Aim We explore geographic variation in body size within the wingless grasshopper, Phaulacridium vittatum, along a latitudinal gradient, and ask whether melanism can help explain the existence of clinal variation. We test the hypotheses that both male and female grasshoppers will be larger and lighter in colour at lower latitudes, and that reflectan...
Conference Paper
Many key landscape processes for human land use and natural ecosystems are regulated by surface climatic conditions, including an important influence from incoming shortwave radiation. Surface radiation has a key influence on landscape ecosystems through effects on surface thermal regimes, photosynthesis and evapotranspiration, which in turn affe...
Article
Full-text available
The summit of Mt Gower, Lord Howe Island (31°33′S, 159°05′E), is a small area of 27 ha supporting mossy cloud forest. This study describes patterns in the floristic composition and structure of the vegetation of the summit, in relation to a range of environmental variables. A total of 42 vascular plant species was recorded, 86% of which are endemic...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract In the dry eucalypt forests of north-eastern New South Wales, Australia, cattle grazing occurs at low intensities and is accompanied by frequent low-intensity burning. This study investigated the combined effects of this management practice on the ground-dwelling and arboreal (low vegetation) spider assemblages. Spiders were sampled at 49...

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Projects

Projects (6)
Project
Estimating Crop Model Uncertainty in Agricultural Systems
Archived project
To test the relationship between ecosystem stability, diversity, climate variability and climate change in the River Elbe floodplain community. Long-term field data will be integrated with climate and hydrological data to assess the impacts of inter-annual climate variability and two types of extreme event, flooding and drought, on three measures of diversity: species, functional and phylogenetic diversity.The rate of recovery after extreme events will be assessed in the mollusc, carabid beetle and plant assemblages to identify the functional traits and species with the strongest climate response.