Dr Harris’ principal research interests are in the area of climate change impacts on biodiversity, species distributions and thermal biology. Her current role as Climate Research Fellow involves working with a multi-disciplinary team, the Landscape and Policy Hub, to integrate regional climate projections with ecological and social research. This research contributes to landscape management decisions that are necessary to adapt to climate change impacts.
She has almost 20 years’ experience working in research organisations, including the Australian Museum (Arachnology Section and the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Research), the Key Centre for Biodiversity and Bioresources, Macquarie University, and the University of Tasmania (School of Geography and the Antarctic Ecosystem and Climate CRC). She has worked in the areas of invertebrate and botanical biodiversity assessment, island biogeography and disturbance ecology, and more recently applied this experience to studying climate change impacts on natural and agricultural ecosystems.
In her current role Dr Harris facilitates the use of regional climate projections within an inter-disciplinary research group, the Landscape and Policy Hub, for application to biodiversity conservation research. This has involved ongoing engagement with researchers and stakeholders, to explain climate models in general, the potential of the projections to particular issues (eg. changes to species’ distributions, and implications for agricultural productivity, pests and natural resource management), and assistance with the interpretation of results.
Dr Harris’ own research uses the Climate Futures for Tasmania and Climate Futures for the Australian Alps simulations to investigate climate change impacts on biodiversity, species distributions and thermal biology. She is involved in a range of projects investigating changes to native and invasive species distributions; shifts in growing season and phenology, and changing fire fuel loads under future climate change in Tasmania and south-eastern Australia.
She is currently working on methods to improve the application of climate science to ecological research and adaptation responses by incorporating the high frequency and seasonal information available in regional climate projections with species-specific biological information.