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Dr Tom Harwood

Quantitative Biodiversity Assessment Team Leader


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GPO BOX 1700


Dr. Tom Harwood has led the Quantitative Biodiversity Assessment Team in the Living Landscapes Program since 2015. The Team works collaboratively across a range of challenges, including macroecological modelling, ecosystem accounting, habitat condition assessment, climate change impacts and adaptation and support of global policy objectives through the maintenance of 4 global biodiversity indicators.

Following a PhD in 3D microclimatic and ecophysiological responses of heathland communities to climate change, Dr. Harwood has developed models of plant physiology and phenology in production systems, predictive and inferential models of geneflow across the landscape, models of pathogen and insect dispersal, linked network and raster epidemiological models with agent-based management at the University of Reading and Imperial College London. He possesses expert programming skills in C/C++ following two years experience as a software engineer, and more recently incorporates OpenMP/OpenMPI parallelisation to push the computational boundaries of ecological modelling.

Since joining CSIRO in 2009, Dr, Harwood has built a range of modelling and analysis products based around the Generalised Dissimilarity Modelling approaches of Simon Ferrier, extending these approaches to address climate change and prioritisation and recently to assess the biodiversity co-benefits of farm scale carbon initiatives. He has also worked with Karel Mokany to develop dynamic metacommunity models of climate change impacts. Many of these analyses have been aggregated into the powerful BILBI system, which utilises high performance computing solutions to deliver analyses of land use and climate change from local to global scales. These models have been used in assessments of the National Reserve System, alternative cropping regimes, the Australian National Outlook (2015) and support of climate-adaptive management of NRM regions.

BILBI now supports 4 global indicators of biodiversity change for reporting against the Aichi 2020 Targets, the CBD post2020 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. These indicators: BERI (Bioclimatic Ecosystem Resilience Index), BHI (Biodiversity Habitat Index) and the PARC (Protected Area Representativeness and Connectedness) indices are 30 arc -second (1km) time series products for the entire terrestrial land surface.

In support of this work, Tom has also developed a climate change robust terrain-based climate downscaling system (TerraFormer), and two different approaches to the assessment of habitat condition; the HCAS (Habitat Condition Assessment System) which assesses pixel level condition on the basis of remote sensing metrics relative to multiple potential reference sites (consistent with the UN-SEEA definition) and the global 1km CSIRO Condition product which builds upon MODIS VCF downscaled Land Use Harmonisation data.

Academic Qualifications

  • 1989

    BSc.(Hons) Ecological Science (Wildlife & Fisheries Management)
    University of Edinburgh

  • 1996

    PhD. "Ecospace" A Dynamic 3D Plant-Microclimate Model
    University of Edinburgh

Achievements and Awards

  • 2010-2018

    Land and Water Digital Culture Award

  • 2014-2019

    Land and Water Science Excellence Award


We have publications by Dr Tom Harwood