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CRC for Forestry > Newsletters > Biodiversity: BioBuzz > Issue thirteen (December 2010)

Biobuzz 13 (December 2010)

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Issue thirteen - December 2010 e-newsletter
BioBuzz - Biodiversity news


Males dominate after disturbance

erin and possErin Flynn submitted her PhD thesis in August.  Her study on the effects of forestry activity on brushtail possums showed that your average brushtail possum is quite resilient to environmental disturbance, although forest disturbance does affect population size and results in a bias towards male possums. [read more]

Biodiversity project update

Project leader Brad Potts provides us with a managerial overview of the progress, achievements, collaborative projects and outputs of the CRC biodiversity project for 2009–2010.[read more]

What's on

Ecological Society Conference, December 2010

ESA Logo thumbnailThe fiftieth anniversary this year of the Ecological Society of Australia coincides with the International year of Biodiversity.  To commemorate both these events, the theme of this year's ESA conference, being held in Canberra from 6th to 10th December 2010, is "Sustaining Biodiversity - the next fifty years".  The CRC biodiversity group will be represented by Simon Grove (abstract) and Steve Read (abstract), both from Forestry Tasmania. [visit the conference website]

Variable retention workshop in Sweden

Mark N ThumbnailIn May 2011 about fifteen researchers and practitioners from around the world will share their knowledge and experiences of integrated approaches to biodiversity conservation in production forest landscapes in Boreal and temperate biomes.  Mark Neyland (Forestry Tasmania) and Sue Baker (University of Tasmania) have been invited to Sweden to participate in the five-day workshop. The aim of the workshop is to prepare a review of variable retention practices in temperate and Boreal regions, including information on policy, monitoring, research experiments and research directions.

Decision Support from AEDA

The Applied Environmental Decision Analysis hub (AEDA) is funded by the Australian Government's Commonwealth Environment Research Facility (CERF) programme.  It brings together quantitatively-oriented conservation ecologists to address issues of conservation management. AEDA produces a newsletter ("Decision Point") with information about biodiversity and conservation issues that may be of interest to readers of Biobuzz. [visit AEDA website]

International Botanical Congress 2011

The International Botanical Congress will be held in Melbourne, 23-30 July 2011. Keynote symposia will include topics ranging from "Climate change and adaptation" and "Plant biotic interactions" to "Modelling and plant development" and "Epigenetics and small RNA".  There will be over 150 general symposia, including three Eucalyptus-related sessions organised by CRC members: "The Eucalyptus genome" (organised by Bill Foley, Brad Potts and René Vaillancourt), "Patterns and processes of Eucalyptus evolution" (organised by Dorothy Steane and Dean Nicolle) and "Community and ecosystem genetics: the extended genetic effects of plant species" (organised by Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra and Jen Schweitzer).  The call for oral abstracts is now closed, but posters may be submitted until 1 February 2010.  [visit the IBC2011 website]

What's been on

Farewell to Fred

Image1_Fred_portrait1smallFred Duncan retired in July 2010 after 23 years working in the development of Forest Practices guidelines.  Originally coming from a conservation background, Fred was committed to using his position within the system to achieve a balance between production and environmental outcomes in Tasmania’s forests.  Fred has a wealth of experience in and insight into Tasmania’s forest industry.  Chris Grove (Forest Practices Authority) interviewed Fred about his experiences … [read more]

Global bird community lands in Brazil

Ornithological conference thumbnailThousands of ornithologists and bird enthusiasts landed in Compos do Jordao, Brazil, in September 2010 to attend the 25th International Ornithological Congress. With ninety talks per day for five days, interspersed with refreshments, poster sessions, and a one-day field trip, the Congress was a twitcher's delight!  Mayumi Knight (UMelb) attended ... [read more]

Restoration conference emphasises community involvement

french-ecol-conf-thumbIn August 2010, PhD student Kasia Bialkowski (Murdoch University) gave her first ever oral presentation at the Seventh European Conference of the Society of Ecological Restoration. The conference, held in the beautiful and famous medieval town of Avignon, was attended by 350 delegates from around the world. The conference emphasised the importance of involving the agricultural sector as well as the general public in restoration projects, and highlighted the contrasting challenges faced by restoration teams in Europe and Australia. [read more]

Monitoring the effectiveness of forest practices in conserving biodiversity

Forest management agencies are increasingly recognising the need to measure and report on the effectiveness of forest management strategies for biodiversity conservation. Many different approaches have been tried around the world but there are few published examples of successful monitoring programs with effective links to management. Sarah Munks (Forest Practices Authority) reports on a fact finding mission in north America ... [read more]

Research excellence recognised

Brad Potts, project manager of the CRC's biodiversity project, has been recognised with an Award for Research Excellence from the University of Tasmania.  [read more].

National Forestry Masters Program 2010

forestry-masters-thumbThe Australian National Forestry Masters Program comprises a core course at several Australian universities, plus a series of centralised short courses that bring together the students from across the institutions.  Matt Hamilton (UTas) coordinated one such short course, held in Tasmania in September 2010, with the assistance of several CRC industry partners. Tasmania turned on some delightful spring weather for the intrepid (unsuspecting) students ... [read more]

Managing landscapes for multiple values

In March 2010 the Forest Practices Authority (FPA) in conjunction with the CRC held a one-day symposium followed by a field day on managing multiple values at a landscape scale. The schedule and abstracts are now available.

Odd spot

Browned off by cup moths

caterpillars-Cathy-thumbAround Hobart over the past few months, large patches of eucalypt forest appear to have died. Their canopies have browned off as if they have been affected by drought or been burnt by wildfire.  But the trees are not dead, just a little the worse for wear after an infestation of caterpillars of the (usually relatively benign) painted cup moth. Lynnette Pullen (DPIPWE) kindly provided Biobuzz with this report ... [read more]

Subproject 4.2.1 Biodiversity benefits of alternatives to clearfelling

Data accumulating for aggregated retention trials

4-2-1-data-accumComparisons of aggregated retention and clearfell-burn-sow silviculture are entering their third year, with data being collected for three year old regeneration in both types of coupe.  This year eleven out of sixteen new aggregated retention coupes were burnt, with good outcomes. Robyn Scott (Forestry Tasmania) reports ... [read more]

Swamp rats explore new territories

swapm-rats-thumbSwamp rats (Rattus lutreolus) prefer to live in areas with dense vegetation, but recently Helen Stephens (PhD student, UTas) has found that a few intrepid individuals are venturing beyond aggregate edges into regenerating clearfelled areas of aggregated retention trials. Helen is conducting some laboratory-based experiments to work out what it is about the regenerating clearfelled areas that is now making the relatively open areas less daunting for the little rodents ... [read more]

Student update

Another 4.2.1 student has graduated and two are still steaming ahead. [read more]

Subproject 4.2.2 Biodiversity outcomes from plantation expansion into agricultural and native forest landscapes

Assessing biodiversity value in highly modified production landscapes

Conserving biodiversity in highly modified production landscapes is a significant challenge for land managers.  Computer-based mapping technologies provide an important tool for examining landscape patterns to assist with the valuation of biodiversity and improvement of conservation strategies.  PhD student Himlal Baral (UMelb) has been applying these technologies to the Reedy Lakes area in Victoria ... [read more]

Does the matrix matter?

Chela Powell (PhD student, UMelb) recently submitted her completed PhD thesis entitled: "The implications of bluegum (Eucalyptus globulus) plantation establishment on remnant beetle communities of the Green Triangle".  Chela summarised her approach and key findings in her final PhD seminar in July 2010.  A pdf of the seminar can be viewed here.

Insect diversity in grassy grey box woodland varies with site quality

Cheryl O'Dwyer (PhD student, UMelb) has been awarded a PhD for her thesis on "Insect ecology in fragmented grey box grassy woodlands in north central Victoria". Cheryl found that insect assemblages changed dramatically over time, with the abundance of some insect species varying enormously from site to site.  She found a strong positive correlation between insect species richness and length of time a site had been left ungrazed, and that insect species richness is enhanced by conservation strategies such as fencing and additional plantings. You can read Cheryl's thesis abstract here.

Student news

Two PhDs in the bag, one PhD submitted, two conferences attended ... the students of 4.2.2 are as busy as ever! [read more].

Subproject 4.2.3 Biodiversity value of coarse woody debris

CWD research — the first decade summarised

Alison-collecting-thumbA decade's worth of research is being collated into a series of articles about the beetle fauna that have been found to be dependent on coarse woody debris (CWD); the relationship between log size, dependent fauna and succession; and the implications of the findings for forest management. Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania) provides a brief overview. [read more].

Subproject 4.2.4 Tools for monitoring and assessing biodiversity

Predicting hollow availability across landscape

Swift-parrot-thumbA large number of vertebrate species use tree hollows for shelter and breeding in Tasmania, including threatened species such as the swift parrot (Lathamus discolor). Strategic management of the hollow resource is required, particularly in production forest areas, but effective management is hampered by a lack of information on the distribution of the hollow resource.  Building on the work of Amy Koch, staff at the Forest Practices Authority have developed a map that indicates potential hollow availability across the landscape.  [read more]

Subproject 4.2.5 Management of forest species of high conservation significance, including threatened species

Predicting the whereabouts of the Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll

Speeler-thumbDespite its poor conservation status and keystone role as a top predator, there is little quantitative information available on the distribution and habitat of the Tasmanian spotted-tailed quoll.  PhD student Shannon Troy (UTas) has been developing predictive habitat models for this charismatic marsupial ...  [read more]

Distribution models created for Tasmanian masked owls (and friends)

Masked Owl thumbnailMick Todd (PhD student, UTas) has used call playback data for the Tasmanian masked owl to create models that describe the likelihood of locating masked owls in a particular habitat.  Several other nocturnal animals were also recorded during Mick's field trips, so similar models have also been made for southern boobooks, Australian owlet-nightjars, common brushtail possums and common ringtail possums.  [read more]

Eagle research excellence recognised by conservation fund

eagle-res-thumbIn August the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund granted Tasmania's Forest Practices Authority (FPA) nearly $16 500 to support this season’s aerial surveys of wedge-tailed eagle nests.  This year's surveys will build on data collected over the past two years ... [read more]

Alpine white gums show complex patterns of genetic diversity

Mt-Seymour-thumb.jpgAlex Matthews recently completed his Honours at the University of Tasmania.  He used morphology and nuclear microsatellite markers to study the genetic diversity and relationships among 29 populations of two closely related alpine white gums, Eucalyptus gunnii and E. urnigera.  The study showed that geographically isolated populations of E. urnigera deserve special attention.  [read more]

Student update

One field season has finished and another is just starting, theses are being written and doctorates received.  There is no stopping the students of 4.2.5!  [read more]

Subproject 4.2.6 Management of the risk of gene flow from eucalypt plantations

Assessing the risk of gene flow into Australia’s rare native eucalypts

Aust-plant-thumbA paper was published recently that reviewed the risk of gene flow from plantation eucalypts into populations of all nationally listed threatened and endangered eucalypt species in Australia. Brad Potts (UTas) summarises the findings ...

[read more]

Measuring hybrid establishment along plantation boundaries

road through plantation_thumbnailThe risk of gene flow from exotic Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) plantations to other native species is being investigated by Matt Larcombe (PhD student, UTAS).  Matt is surveying boundaries of plantations and native forests for hybrid seedlings, native seedlings and pure plantation species seedlings.  His early results are showing an interesting trend ... [read more]

Student update

Click here to catch up with the students of subproject 4.2.6.

Subproject 4.2.7 Management of genetic resources

Blue gum mapping a team effort

Fig-1-PTilyard-and-Winston-A multi-organisational effort has led to an updated distribution map of Eucalyptus globulus (Tasmanian blue gum) in Tasmania. The work was undertaken by staff from the Threatened Species Section of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), the Forest Practices Authority, Forestry Tasmania and University of Tasmania ... [read more]

Adaptive potential of Eucalyptus pauciflora focus of PhD study

archana-thumbEucalyptus pauciflora, also known as "cabbage gum", is a widespread species that grows in disjunct populations in a range of habitats, from the tree line in the Australian Alps to near sea-level in southern Victoria and Tasmania.  Archana Gauli is a new PhD student based at UTAS, whose research is affiliated with the Biodiversity project of the CRC.  Archana is studying the genetic diversity and adaptive potential of this species, with particular emphasis on environmental fitness of local and non-local provenances. [read more]

Student update

To read about what the students of subproject 4.2.7 have been up to ... click here.

Subproject 4.2.8  Integrated management of browsing mammals

Screening Eucalyptus nitens seedlings for resistance to browsing

Julianne-Justin-Hugh-thumbOne avenue for reducing damage to forestry seedlings by browsing mammals is to plant genetic stock that is naturally high in plant secondary metabolites.  Researchers at UTAS are testing a simple screening method that allows rapid high-throughput assessments of the secondary metabolite content of eucalypt seedlings ... [read more]

What does a tree do in response to defoliation?

What does a plant do when a wallaby eats its leaves?  Christina Borzak (PhD student, University of Tasmania) is collaborating with Dr Karen Barry (Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research) and Dr Libby Pinkard (CSIRO) to investigate the genetic basis of variation in growth and physiological responses of Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) seedlings to defoliation.  [read more].

Student update

The progress of students in subproject 4.2.8 can be checked here.

Subproject 4.2.9 Lethal trap trees

Beating the beetles out of the blocks

This summer the Forestry Tasmania entomologists were determined to protect their trap plots of E. regnans and E. delegatensis in the centre of E. nitens plantations before the chrysomelid beetles defoliated them, as occurred last summer. But in October, during a routine check at a site behind Rocky Cape, the scientists found some lazy beetles basking in the warm spring sunshine, weeks earlier than expected.  The race was on!  [read more]

Review of beetle control options now available

Jane Elek (Forestry Tasmania) has completed a review of alternative methods of managing leaf beetles that explains the rationale behind the lethal trap tree project.  The review evaluates options for managing chrysomelid leaf beetles in Australian eucalypt plantations with a view to reducing the use of chemicals.  You can download CRC for Forestry Technical Report 204 by Jane Elek and Tim Wardlaw here.

Subproject 4.2.10 Improving Mycosphaerella leaf disease resistance in Eucalyptus globulus

Latitudinal differences in Mycosphaerella susceptibility

bmp-032-thumbA young blue gum (E. globulus) progeny trial in north-eastern Tasmania was exposed to Mycosphaerella leaf disease during winter 2010.  Damage levels averaged 6.2% and there was a strong latitudinal cline in the susceptibility of the E. globulus subraces to the disease.  This is good news for tree breeders aiming to decrease susceptibility of E. globulus to Mycosphaerella leaf disease. [read more]

Project 4.4 Industry Pest Management Group (Western Australia and Green Triangle)

Cooperative approach to plantation health monitoring

In October the IPMG set up an ambitious Plantation Health program across the Western Australian blue gum plantation estate. While surveillance of forest estates for disease and infestation is nothing new, it has usually involved individual companies or forestry agencies.  The first of its kind, the IPMG program will involve the collation of data from several companies to provide a regional forest health surveillance program.  [read more]

IPMG website provides valuable links

For more than ten years, the IPMG has been conducting research and assisting in the development of eucalypt plantation pest management. To showcase its research and to provide useful information about integrated pest management to industry, government and the general public, the IPMG has developed a new website.  [read more]

IPMG newsletter launched

In addition to the launch of its new website, the IPMG has produced the inaugural issue of its biannual newsletter.  Contents will include a seasonal “pest outlook”, a focus on particular pests or diseases, highlights of recent research and any related pest or disease management news. [read more]

Related sites

Forest Practices Authority

Applied Environmental Decision Analysis (AEDA) newsletter

Industry Pest Management Group


The editor of BioBuzz is Dr Dorothy Steane. Please contact Dot with any feedback or with your ideas for BioBuzz 14 (April 2011).