Dr Harris’ principal research interests are in the areas of conservation management and climate change impacts on natural and human systems. Recent research has focused on the impact of climate variability and extreme events on natural ecosystems and the adaptability of species and humans to change. This research has been applied to conservation management, emergency services (bushfire preparedness), agriculture (biosecurity, viticulture), and adaptation in the ski industry. She is a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group II.
Dr Harris is currently the lead researcher on the projects: An assessment of the viability of prescribed burning as a management tool under a changing climate. Funded by the National Disaster Resilience Grants Program, 2016 and the Tasmanian Bushfire Mitigation Grants Program, 2018; Australia’s wine future – adapting to short-term climate variability and long-term climate change, 2016-2019. Funded by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.
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. She has ongoing collaborations in Germany investigating the impact of compounding extreme events on biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function.
Harris, R. M. B., Beaumont, L.J., Vance, T. R., et al. (2018) Biological responses to the press and pulse of climate trends and extreme events. Nature Climate Change 8, 579-587, doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0187-9.
Harris, R.M.B.; Remenyi, T.; Williamson, G.; Bindoff, N.L.; Bowman, D (2016) Climate – vegetation – fire interactions and feedbacks: major barrier or trivial detail in projecting the future of the Earth system? Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews. doi: 10.1002/wcc.428
Harris, R.M.B., Remenyi, T., Kriticos, D., Bindoff, N (2016) Unusual suspects in the usual places: A phylo-climatic framework to identify potential future invasive species. Biological Invasions 10.1007/s10530-016-1334-8
Porfirio, L.L.; Harris, R.; Stojanovic, D.; Webb, M.H.; Mackey, B. (2016) Direct and indirect effects of climate change over three trophic levels on an endangered migratory species. Emu – Austral Ornithology MU10.1071/MU15094
McDonald, J., McCormack, P., Harris, R.M.B., Lockwood, M. & Fleming, A. (2016) How can conservation objectives in legal frameworks better facilitate biodiversity adaptation under climate change? Ecology and Society 21(2):25. http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08460-210225
Harris, R.M.B., Grose, M., Lee, G., Bindoff, N., Porfirio, L. and Fox-Hughes, P. (2014) Climate Projections for Ecologists. WIREs Climate Change 5: 621-637 (doi: 10.1002/wcc.291)
Fox-Hughes, P., Harris, R.M.B., Lee G, Grose, M, and Bindoff, N (2014) Future fire danger climatology for Tasmania, Australia, using a dynamically downscaled regional climate model. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23, 309–321
Porfirio L.L., R M.B. Harris, Sonia Hugh, Sue Gould, Greg Lee, Brendan Mackey, Nathan Bindoff (2014) Improving the application of Species Distribution Models for conservation planning and management under climate change. PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113749
Harris, R.M., McQuillan, P. & Hughes, L. (2013) A test of the thermal melanism hypothesis in the wingless grasshopper Phaulacridium vittatum. Journal of Insect Science, 13:51. http://www.insectscience.org/13.51 (open access)
Gould, S.F., Beeton, N.J., Harris, R.M.B., Hutchinson, M.F., Lechner, A.M., Porfirio, L.L., Mackey, B.G. (2014) A tool for simulating and communicating uncertainty when modelling species distributions under future climates. Ecology and Evolution doi: 10.1002/ece3.1319
Linnean Society of NSW Joyce W. Vickery Scientific Research Grant, 2005
ANZ Holsworth Research Endowment, 2007
Australian Museum Postgraduate Award, 2007
Humboldt Research Fellowship, 2016