The Robson Creek site lies on the Atherton Tablelands in the wet tropical rainforests of Australia (17.121 S, 145.634 E) at 680-740 m elevation. It is situated in Danbulla National Park within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The climate is seasonal with approximately 60% of rain falling between January – March and the landform is moderately inclined with a low relief although the Lamb Range rises sharply to 1276 m asl immediately to the north of the plot.

The Wet Tropics Bioregion of Australia is situated on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, between Cooktown to the north and Townsville to the south. Approximately 40% (7200 km2) of the region is covered by rainforest. Features of the region include very high plant and animal endemism, characteristics of both Gondwanan and Indo-Malaysian forests, and frequent cyclonic disturbance. To the north, south and west of the bioregion the climate becomes drier and the vegetation quickly grades to woodland.

The Robson Creek 25 ha plot was established in 2009. All stems ≥ 10 cm diameter are measured, tagged and mapped. Data can be accessed via the Supersites Data portal. In 2013, a 40 m flux tower was established adjacent to the plot. Infrastructure at the plot is limited to a simple field shed, however world class research facilities are located at CSIRO Atherton, a 35 minute drive from Robson Creek. Accommodation can be found at state government campsites (10 minutes), Tinaroo (20 mins) or Atherton (35 mins).

The Robson Creek 25 ha vegetation survey plot has been included in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s Center for Tropical Forest Science - Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO) global network of forest research plots. This network dedicated to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity.

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Site Details

  • Forest type: Simple Notophyll Vine Forest (SNVF) 26 – 40 m canopy
  • Soils: acidic, dystrophic, brown dermosol, developed in alluvium
  • Elevation: 700 m
  • Rainfall: 2236 mm
  • T mean: 19.4 C


  • on-site field lab (donga)
  • all weather access road

SuperSite installations

  • SuperSites core 1 ha (100 m x 100 m) is located within the fetch of the flux tower and is the focal site of recurrent monitoring
  • 25 ha forest dynamics plot
  • carbon dioxide and water flux station (OzFlux eddy flux covariance)
  • weather station
  • water quality sensors
  • acoustic sensor
  • phenocams (2 above canopy, 1 under canopy)
  • gauging station to measure discharge
  • soil water content, soil water potential, soil temperature sensors
  • COSMOS soil moisture sensor
  • logging bore

Far North Queensland Rainforest - Robson Creek Ancillary Datasets

Airborne LiDAR Survey, TERN AusCover - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 20120913-20120914

Airborne Hyperspectral Survey, TERN AusCover - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 20120914

SLATS Star Transects, TERN AusCover - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 20120910

TERN OzFlux Data - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 2013

TERN OzFlux Data - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 2014

TERN OzFlux Data - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 2015

TERN OzFlux Data - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 2016

FLUXNET Eddy Covariance Data - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek

Soil Biodiversity, Bioplatforms Australia - Far North Queensland Rainforest SuperSite, Robson Creek, 2013

Photosphere view from within the 25 Ha plot at Robson Creek Rainforest SuperSite (photo M. Karan)

In January 2014 Matt Bradford (CSIRO) was interviewed by the ABC Radio National Off Track program at the Robson Creek flux tower.

Education and Outreach

A ClimateWatch trail near Robson Creek has been developed in collaboration with the Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre, a Queensland state government-run centre in Far North Queensland with a 25 year history of providing education on land care, outdoor pursuits and sustainability. The Tinaroo Environmental Education Centre ClimateWatch trail enables casual citizen scientists to contribute to phenological and biodiversity datasets that will complement monitoring at Robson Creek.

Publications associated with Robson Creek

  1. Togashi, H.F., Prentice, I.C., Evans, B.J., Forrester, D.I., et al. (2015) Morphological and moisture availability controls of the leaf area-to-sapwood area ratio: analysis of measurements on Australian trees. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece3.1344
  2. Atkin, O.K., Bloomfield, K.J., Reich, P.B., Tjoelker, M.G. et al. (2015) Global variation in leaf respiration in relation to climate, plant functional types and leaf traits. New Phytologist 206(2): 614-636. doi: 10.1111nph.13253
  3. Bradford, M.G., Murphy, H.T., Ford, A.J., Hogan, D. & Metcalfe, D.J. (2014) Long term stem inventory data from tropical rainforest plots in Australia. Ecology 95(8):2362.
  4. Bradford, M.G., Metcalfe, D.J. Ford, A.J. Liddell, M.J. & McKeown, A.T. (2014) Floristics, stand structure and above ground biomass of a 25 ha rainforest plot in the Wet Tropics of Australia. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 26(4):543-553.
  5. Metcalfe, D.J., Liddell, M.J., Bradford, M.J. & Green, P.T. (2014) Chapter 5. Tropical rainforests of Eastern Australia. In: Biodiversity and Environmental Change: Monitoring, Challenges and Direction Lindenmayer, D., Burns, E., Thurgate, N. and Lowe, A. (Eds). CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia, pp 111-165.
  6. Torello-Raventos, M., Feldpausch, T.R., Veenendaal, E., Schrodt, F., et al. (2013) On the delineation of tropical vegetation types with an emphasis on forest/savanna transitions. Plant Ecology & Diversity: 1-37. doi: 10.1080/17550874.2012.762812
  7. Graham, A. W. (ed.) (2006) The CSIRO Rainforest Permanent Plots of North Queensland – Site, Structural, Floristic and Edaphic Descriptions. CSIRO and the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management. Rainforest CRC, Cairns (252pp.). doi: 10.4225/08/53C4CC1D94DA0

Camera Trap Survey Trial

Camera trap results for the TERN FNQ Rainforest SuperSite - Robson Creek, Jan - Feb 2017.