Myanmar ecosystems paper published

Our new paper detailing the outcomes of a 3-year project to identify and assess the status of Myanmar's natural ecosystems has been published in Biological Conservation. We worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society local team and a large group of ecosystem experts to conduct the analysis. Read the paper Myanmar's terrestrial ecosystems: status, threats and conservation opportunities in Biological Conservation here.

Global analysis of tidal flat conservation

Today a new paper on the conservation of tidal flats, led by honours graduate Narelle Hill (University of Queensland), was published in Conservation Biology. We analysed the performance of protected areas in conserving tidal flat ecosystems worldwide. Read the paper in Conservation Biology here.

New global mangrove typology

We have a new paper on the global distribution of mangrove forest ecosystems. Led by Tom Worthington at Cambridge University, we classified and mapped mangroves according to their biophysical and geomorphic setting. The paper sets up a baseline for assessing variation in mangrove ecosystem services and for informing appropriate mangrove restoration strategies. Read the paper published in Scientific Reports here.

Deep learning for reef mapping

A collaboration with Remote Sensing Research Centre (University of Queensland) and the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (Asner Lab, rizona State University) has led to a new, global scale analysis of the distribution of coral reefs. This exciting paper from the Allen Coral Atlas project was led by Jiwei Li, Nick Fabina and Greg Asner, and describes how we used convolutional neural networks to generate a coral reef probability map from high spatial resolution Planet Dove imagery. Read the paper here.

Threatened Ecosystem of Myanmar launched

After 3 years, 4 field trips, >3500-kms of Myanmar traversed, and 3 workshops with local experts, we are pleased to launch the Threatened Ecosystems of Myanmar report. The report develops a new ecosystem typology for Myanmar (64 ecosystems described), develops a national ecosystem map using Sentinel-2 and Landsat-8 data analysed in Google Earth Engine, and assesses each ecosystem under the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems criteria. The project was conducted in with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Read the 350+ page report here. A preprint of our first paper is here.

Featured in Science

This week a special issue of Science focuses on the dynamics of mud and sediment at the global scale (Science: a world of mud). The feature "Mud on the move" includes a striking new visualisation of the data underlying Figure 1 of our paper The global distribution and trajectory of tidal flats (Nature, 2019). Read mud on the move here.

GEO-GEE scheme success

Today, The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and Google Earth Engine (GEE) have announced 32 projects from 22 countries that will be awarded $3 million USD towards production licenses and $1 million in technical support from EO Data Science to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges using open Earth data. I am very pleased to report that our free and open-access remote sensing app Remap ( was one of these projects. The scheme will allow us to deliver several key improvements aimed at giving non-experts the tools needed to map and identify ecosystem change. Read more about the program here.

Big data for mangrove conservation

We have published a new paper detailing how big data can support mangrove conservation. The huge team of authors, led by Tom Worthington (Cambridge University/The Nature Conservancy), describe how new and emerging datasets can be assembled to support policy action and on-the-ground conservation. Read the paper here.

Dense-time series remote sensing

Calvin Lee, whose PhD focuses on the use of remote sensing in conservation, was just published. The paper develops a new method for estimating significant trends in the area of an ecosystem by developing classified maps of entire archives of satellite images. Calvin demonstrates the method in northern Myanmar. Read the paper here.

Mapping coral reefs globally

The first paper from the Allen Coral Atlas is now online. Mitch Lyons led the paper that describes the remote sensing framework that is being implemented to develop the world's most high resolution and accurate maps of coral reef benthic and geomorphic environments. Read the paper here.

Associate Editor

Happy to begin as an Associate Editor at Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation (RSEC) in early 2020. RSEC is an open access journal focusing on multidisciplinary research from the interface between remote sensing science and ecology and conservation. Read more about RSEC here.

Australian Antarctic Science grant success

We have just been funded by an Australian Antarctic Science grant for the project Assessing risks to Antarctic terrestrial and nearshore ecosystems (2019-2022). Our team, led by Prof David Keith (UNSW) and including co-investigors Prof Steven Chown (Monash), Dr Justine Shaw (UQ), Dr Jonny Stark (AAD) and Dr Aleks Terauds (AAD), will develop spatial distribution models, diagnostic models and data reviews of to conduct a comprehensive systematic risk assessment to terrestrial and nearshore ecosystems in Antarctica.

Moving to JCU

After post-doctoral positions at the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science (UQ), the Remote Sensing Research Centre (UQ) and the Centre for Ecosystem Science (UNSW), I will commence as a Senior Lecturer at James Cook University (JCU) in early September 2019. See my JCU portfolio here.

Australian scientist in the running for APEC Science Prize

A researcher whose work assesses the conservation challenges and management risks associated with sea level rise has been chosen as Australia’s nominee for the US$25,000 APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE). Dr Nicholas Murray from UNSW Sydney was selected by an expert panel ... Read the story here (Australian Academy of Sciences) and here (The Australian).

Australian scientist in the running for APEC Science Prize

A researcher whose work assesses the conservation challenges and management risks has been chosen as Australia’s nominee for the US$25,000 APEC Science Prize for Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE). Dr Nicholas Murray from UNSW Sydney was selected by an expert panel convened by the Australian Academy of Science. He will compete with 20 other scientists from APEC economies for the award. Read more here.

Shortlisted for Robert May Prize 2018

Our paper on Remap - our free online app for remote sensing - was shortlisted for the Robert May Prize in Methods in Ecology Evolution. Use Remap for quickly making maps with Landsat data thanks to the power of Google Earth Engine. Read more here.

ARC Linkage success

We have just been funded under the ARC Linkage scheme for the project A global standard for the status of Wetlands of International Importance. Led by Prof Richard Kingsford, the project brings together a large research team from academia, NGOs, and governments to develop a new standard to assess and report ecological condition of internationally important wetlands listed under the Ramsar Convention. Read more here.

Editing a special issue of Remote Sensing

Dr Mitchell Lyons (University of New South Wales), Professor Stuart Phinn (UQ) and I are editing a special issue of Remote Sensing. We are particularly interested in operational remote sensing for ecosystem monitoring, such as habitat mapping, the extraction of biophysical variables, the detection of biological and ecological parameters, detecting changes and disturbances, assessing risk, assessing the efficacy of management actions, and providing evidence for compliance with regulations and policy. Read more here.

Redlistr R package

Today we published a paper in Ecography describing our new Redlistr R package. Development of the package was led by PhD student Calvin Lee, and allows users to compute the spatial metrics required for the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems and IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Redlistr has already been installed a few thousand times. Read the paper here.

Featured in The Guardian

Our analysis of the global distribution and change of tidal flats was featured in The Guardian yesterday. I discuss how we applied a machine learning classifier to the entire Landsat archive to map the distribution of one of the last unmapped coastal ecosystems and what it could mean for tidal flat conservation. Read the story here.

Featured in The Guardian

Our new paper in Nature is featured in Hakai magazine. This is the story of tidal flats, their global distribution as discovered by machine learning and remote sensing, and how their losses are impacting shorebird populations around the world. Read the story here.

Nature paper published today

Our new Nature paper reports the global distribution and change of the intertidal zone. Our high-resolution maps are first maps of tidal flats, which we show are similar in extent to mangroves and are declining. The paper is a result of a grant we received from Google in 2016, aimed at solving the problem of mapping an ecosystem that is frequently obscured by the tide. Read more here.

ARC DECRA success

Yesterday I received the great news that I have been awarded a Discovery Early Career Research Award (DECRA) by the Australian Research Council. The award it to support research contributing to a global ecosystem risk assessment for coastal ecosystems, and includes aims related to remote sensing, coastal ecosystem modelling and risk modelling. Read more here.

Featured in New York Times

This week an important article on migratory shorebirds that features some of my research was published in the New York Times.

Joining the Allen Coral Atlas

I've just joined the team developing the Allen Coral Atlas, a collaboration between Planet, University of Queensland, Carnegie and Vulcan. I'll be contributing cloud-based machine learning expertise to analyse a high-resolution global mosaic of Planet imagery to enable the production of high-resolution maps of coral reefs for the entire globe. Read more about the project in a recent National Geographic article here and on the project website here.

Global mangrove restoration

Congratulations to Tom Worthington and Mark Spalding (and many others!) from The Nature Conservancy on the launch the global mangrove restoration potential project, for which I contributed via a few workshops. Read more about the project here, read the technical report here and explore the map viewer.

New book chapter

I have a new book chapter in Allison Leidner (NASA) and Graeme Buchanan's (RSPB) recently launched book, Satellite Remote Sensing for Conservation Action. My chapter is on the use of remote sensing for conserving East Asia's declining coastal wetlands. Find the book here.

ARC Linkage success

We recently received the exciting news that our ARC Linkage Grant was successful. The project Ecosystem risk assessment: new solutions to the global biodiversity crisis aims to develop a typological framework for the world’s ecosystems, and undertake the first global risk assessment for ecosystems. Read more about risk assessment here.

Featured in Nature

Nature's recent article Ecology’s remote-sensing revolution features me and my work using remote sensing to investigate ecological questions at the global-scale. The article starts "When ecologist Nicholas Murray started digging into remote-sensing data for ..." Read more.

REMAP reaches 9k users

Some recent press coverage has pushed the number of users using our Google-funded free online remote sensing software ( to more than 9,000 users in less than a year since its launch.

New STOTEN paper

Our paper on the use of remote sensing for ecosystem risk assessment was just published in Science for the Total Environment. The paper was an output from a workshop that included Emily Nicholson, Nathalie Pettorelli, David Keith and Richard Lucas. Read it here.

New RSEC paper

We have published a review on using remote sensing for monitoring ecosystem functions. In particular, the review proposes the adoption of a set of definitions and a typology for ecosystem functions, and outlines how these functions could be monitored using earth observation. Read it here.

New animations of coastal wetland data

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology have recently produced a range of documentaries that highlight the alarming plight of migratory shorebirds in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. The most recent video includes incredible visualisations of the remotely sensed data delivered in our 2014 Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment paper.

Australian Geographic

Some of my work was featured in a four part feature by the Ann Jones of the ABC on the alarming plight of migratory shorebirds. The radio documentary is available on ABC, with the long-format article here (flying for their lives) and the a story in Australian Geographic.

List of recent media

Launching REMAP

In 2016 we received funding from Google to develop a cloud-based online remote sensing application that allows users to quickly develop classified maps for any location on Earth from Landsat data. After 15 months of work, we are pleased to launch remap, the remote ecosystem monitoring and assessment pipeline ( The paper describing REMAP was published in Methods in Ecology and the Environment, read it here.

Visualising collaborations

I finally found the time to compile and map the number and locations of all of my co-authors. In total, I have 141 co-authors from universities (51%), government agencies (22%), NGOs (21%) and the private sector (6%).

New paper in Nature Communications

In a new paper led by Colin Studds we demonstrate that shorebird species in Australia and New Zealand that are declining most rapidly are those that spend the most time in the Yellow Sea, where their tidal mudflat habitat is Endangered. Read more here and a nice write up of what's causing the world's shorebirds to decline here.

Google intertidal project

We have been funded by Google to to produce the first global map of tidal flat ecosystems. We plan to use the immense power of Google Earth Engine and nearly 1 million Landsat images to develop the maps, which will represent the first ever map of the global intertidal zone.

Eureka prize

Last night we were awarded the 2015 Eureka Prize for Environmental Research! Read more about the award, for the work of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems team towards assessing risks to ecosystems, here.