Professor Barry W. Brook

Barry Brook_UTAS_icon


Barry is a conservation biologist and modeller, an ARC Australian Laureate Professor and Chair of Environmental Sustainability at the University of Tasmania. Leader of the Dynamics of Eco-evolutionary Patterns (DEEP) research group and the UTAS node of CABAH, Barry is a highly cited scientist, having published three books, over 350 refereed papers, and many popular articles. His awards include the 2006 Australian Academy of Science Fenner Medal, the 2010 Community Science Educator of the Year and 2013 Scopus Researcher of the Year. He focuses on global change biology, ecological dynamics, paleoenvironments, energy systems, and statistical-simulation models.

What Drives My Research?

Saving our natural resources while still allowing for human development.

I’m researching how animal and plant populations work and what drives changes in distribution and abundance. Climate change is a huge future factor and threatens to trigger ongoing problems as we adapt by altering the way we use land and energy resources.

We have to measure and predict how our human impacts will change in the future and how to design warning systems to avoid future damage.

I believe the key is to pursue technologies that can decouple human activities from environmental damage, or even reverse historical impacts.

In the past we’ve used natural resources to grow the human population and economy – we’ve used the land for forestry, agriculture and mining, and the oceans and air to dump our waste. My goal is to find ways that modern societies can co-exist with nature and not destroy it. I believe most people want this.

Technology, if used and shared appropriately, will allow us to peak in the way we use natural resources and reduce that use over time. Our demand for resources can decline, even with growing economies and populations, for example as we use land more efficiently for agriculture or use new crop types.

We can protect ecosystems by making them less valuable to direct exploitation by the human economy. By finding other ways to generate wealth that don’t include using our natural systems, we can intensify in other areas.

To work in this field it’s important to have strong quantitative skills as well as to care about conservation and threatened species and how to manage and protect them. And we need to acknowledge the reality that ongoing human development is also a priority. Trade-offs are inevitable.

My research involves working with data: spatial information, time series data, making measurements in the field, and building computer models. Most of my research is done with models and analysing large data sets.

What really drives me is a desire to explain hard-won technical scientific evidence to a broad audience in an intelligible way so we can provoke meaningful societal change towards long-term sustainability.


To this end, I have taken an active leadership role in the communication of the science of global change to government, industry and the community – directly, via public lectures and workshops and advisory committees, and indirectly, via television, radio, print media and popular science articles. I share my thoughts on global change and technology options on my blog Brave New Climate, on YouTube, and in articles in The Conversation.

I consider myself an ‘Ecomodernist’ who is motivated to promote real-world, high-capacity and cost-effective solutions to 21st century global environmental challenges – such as nuclear power, harnessing of offworld resources and other techno-fixes.

Recent Publications:


Fuller, C., Ondei, S., Brook, B.W., & Buettel, J.C. (2019). First, do no harm: A systematic review of deforestation spillovers from protected areas. Global Ecology and Conservation

Buettel, J.C. Ringwaldt, E.M., Hovenden, M.J. & Brook, B.W. (2019). Importance of the local environment on nutrient cycling and litter decomposition in a tall Eucalypt forest. Forests 10(4), 340.

Nguyen. H.K.D., Fielding, M.W.,  Buettel, J.C. & Brook, B.W. (2019). Habitat suitability, live abundance and their link to road mortality of Tasmanian wildlifeWildlife Research  46(3): 236-246.

Brook, B.W., Buettel, J.C. & Jarić, I. A fast re-sampling method for using reliability ratings of sightings with extinction date estimators. Ecology (Accepted 24/4/19)

Roy-Dufresne, E., Lurgi, M., Brown, S.C., Wells, K., Cooke, B., Mutze, G., Peacock, D., Cassey, P., Berman, D., Brook, B.W., et al. (2019).The Australian National Rabbit Database: 50 years of population monitoring of an invasive speciesEcology


Buettel, J.C., Brook, B.W., Cole, A.; Dickey, J.; Flies, E.J. (2018) Astro-ecology? Shifting the interdisciplinary collaboration paradigm. Ecology and Evolution  8(19): 9586-9589. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.4455.

Flies, E.J., Brook, B.W., Blomqvist, L. & Buettel, J.C. (2018). Future global food demand and model complexity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Environment International. 120: 93-103. DOI:

Buettel, J.C., Cole, A., Dickey, J.M. & Brook, B.W. (2018). Analyzing linear spatial features in ecology. Ecology 99: 1490-1497.

Brook, B.W., Sleightholme, S.R., Campbell, C.R. & Buettel, J.C. (2018). Deficiencies in estimating the extinction date of the thylacine with mixed certainty data. Conservation Biology  32: 1195-1197.

Hong, S. & Brook, B.W. (2018). At the crossroads: an uncertain future facing the electricity-generation sector in South KoreaAsia & the Pacific Policy Studies 5(3): 522-532. DOI: 10.1002/app5.245

Hong, S. & Brook, B.W. (2018). Economic feasibility of energy supply by small modular nuclear reactors on small islands: case studies of Jeju, Tasmania and Tenerife. Energies 11(10): 2587. DOI: 10.3390/en11102587

Hong, S., Qvist, S. & Brook, B.W. (2018). Economic and environmental costs of replacing nuclear fission with solar and wind energy in Sweden. Energy Policy 112: 56-66. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.10.013

Hong, S. & Brook, B.W. (2018). A nuclear- to-gas transition in South Korea: Is it environmentally friendly or economically viable? Energy Policy 112: 67-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2017.10.012

Brook, B.W., Orcid, T. B., Wigley, T. M. L. & Hong, S. (2018). Silver Buckshot or Bullet: Is a Future “Energy Mix” Necessary? Sustainability10(2): 302. DOI: 10.3390/su10020302

Lunn, T.J., Gerwin, M., Buettel, J.C. & Brook, B.W. (2018). Impact of intense disturbance on the structure and composition of wet-eucalypt forests: a case study from the Tasmanian 2016 wildfires. PLoS ONE 13(7) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200905

Wells, K., Fordham, D.A., Brook, B.W., Cassey, P., Cox, T., O’Hara, R.B. &
Schwensow, N.I. (2018). Disentangling synergistic disease dynamics: Implications for the viral biocontrol of rabbits. Journal of Animal Ecology 87: 1418-1428. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12871

Haby, N.A., Delean, S. & Brook, B.W. (2018). Improving performance and transferability of small mammal species distribution modelsTransactions of the Royal Society of South Australia 142: 143-161. DOI: 10.1080/03721426.2018.1513770


Brook, B.W. & Alroy, J. (2017). Biology of Extinction: Inferring Events, Patterns and Processes. Biology Letters (Special Feature, 14 papers). The Royal Society.

Brook, B.W. & Alroy, J. (2017). Pattern, process, inference and prediction in extinction biology. Biology Letters, 13, 20160828. DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0828

Brook, B.W. & Buettel, J.C. (2017). Interplay of Human and Natural Disturbances on Pattern and Process in Forest Ecosystems. Forests (Special Issue, 7 papers). MDPI

Brook, B.W., Ellis, E.C. & Buettel, J.C. (2017) What is the evidence for planetary tipping points? Effective Conservation Science: Data Not Dogma (eds P. Kareiva, M. Marvier & B. Silliman). Oxford University Press, DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808978.001.0001

Buettel, J.C., Ondei, S. & Brook, B.W. (2017) A practical method for creating a digital topographic surface for ecological plots using ground-based measurements. Landscape Ecology. 1-10. DOI: 10.1007/s10980-017-0598-4

Buettel, J.C., Ondei, S. & Brook, B.W. (2017). Look down to see what’s up: a systematic overview of treefall dynamics in forests. Forests 8(4): 123. DOI: 10.3390/f8040123

Buettel, J.C., Ondei, S. & Brook, B.W. (2017). Missing the wood for the trees? New ideas on defining forests and forest degradation. Rethinking Ecology 1: 15-24. DOI: 10.3897/rethinkingecology.1.13296

Johnson, C.N., Balmford, A., Brook, B.W., Buettel, J.C., Galetti, M., Lei, G.C. & Wilmshurst, J.M. (2017). Biodiversity losses and conservation responses in the Anthropocene. Science 356(6335): 270-274. DOI: 10.1126/science.aam9317

Fordham, D.A., Bertelsmeier, C., Brook, B.W., Neto, D., Early, R., Brown, S.C., Ollier, S. & Araújo, M.B. (2017) How complex should models be? Comparing correlative and mechanistic range dynamics models. Global Change Biology. DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13935

Fordham, D.A., Saltré, F., Haythorne, S., Wigley, T.M.L., Otto-Bliesner, B.L., Chan, K.C. & Brook, B.W. (2017). PaleoView: A tool for generating continuous climate projections spanning the last 21 000 years at regional and global scales. Ecography 40(11): 1348–1358. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.03031

Heard, B.P. & Brook, B.W. (2017). Closing the cycle: How South Australia and Asia can benefit from re-inventing used nuclear fuel management. Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies 4: 166-175. DOI: 10.1002/app5.164

Heard, B.P., Brook, B.W., Wigley, T.M.L. & Bradshaw, C.J.A. (2017). Burden of proof: A comprehensive review of the feasibility of 100% renewable-electricity systems. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 76: 1122-1133. DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2017.03.114

Berger, A., Blees, T., Breon, F.M., Brook, B.W., Deffrennes, M., Durand, B., Hansen, P., Huffer, E., Grover, R.B., Guet, C., Liu, W.P., Livet, F., Nifenecker, H., Petit, M., Pierre, G., Prevot, H., Richet, S., Safa, H., Salvatores, M., Schneeberger, M., Wornan, B. & Zhou, S.Y. (2017). Nuclear energy and bio energy carbon capture and storage, keys for obtaining 1.5°C mean surface temperature limit. International Journal of Global Energy Issues 40. DOI: 10.1504/IJGEI.2017.086622

Berger, A., Blees, T., Breon, F.M., Brook, B.W., Hansen, P., Grover, R.B., Guet, C., Liu, W.P., Livet, F., Nifenecker, H., Petit, M., Pierre, G., Prevot, H., Richet, S., Safa, H., Salvatores, M., Schneeberger, M. & Zhou, S.Y. (2017). How much can nuclear energy do about global warming? International Journal of Global Energy Issues, 40: 43-78. DOI: 10.1504/IJGEI.2017.080766