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CRC for Forestry > Newsletters > Biodiversity: BioBuzz > Issue eleven (May 2010)

Biobuzz 11 (May 2010)


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Issue eleven - May 2010 e-newsletter
BioBuzz - Biodiversity news

Hot Spot

Leaf oil chemistry of Eucalyptus nitens and the Tasmanian native eucalypts

Recent media stories have raised interest in the similarity of the leaf chemistry of Eucalyptus nitens to that of the Tasmanian native eucalypts.  The suggestion was raised that a chemical or chemicals leaching from E. nitens plantations may be the cause of toxicity detected by laboratory testing of some foam and surface water samples collected from the George River in North-eastern Tasmania. Two compounds in particular, 1,8 cineole and alpha-pinene that were found in the water samples are major components of the leaf volatile oils of many eucalypt species, including E. nitens.  This raised the question: how similar is the chemistry of the leaves of E. nitens to that of native Tasmanian species?  Brad Potts, Paul Tilyard and Julianne O'Reilly Wapstra decided to find out ... [read more]

What's On

CRC Annual Science Meeting

The CRC Forestry's Annual Science Meeting will be held this month, 18-20 May in Fremantle, Western Australia.  The annual event brings together students, researchers, project managers, industry partners and directors for several days of research presentations, research management meetings, student workshops, field trips and networking.  Twenty-seven post-graduate students will be attending a professional development program on Monday and Tuesday that will discuss current issues in forestry, how to maximise the impact that their research makes on the industry, how to write scientific journal articles and how to present their research to a general audience.  For CRC researchers, a workshop on plantation pests will be held before the ASM on Monday 17th May (learn more).  Following the ASM (Friday 21st May) there will be two field trips: one that will provide a whole catchment perspective on managing forests for multiple outcomes; a second tour will cover some of the components contributing to the supply chain of the hardwood plantation sector in WA.  Click here for more information about the ASM and associated field trips.

Plantation Pest workshop

The CRC will be holding a plantation pest workshop as an adjunct to the Annual Science Meeting in Fremantle in May.  The workshop, hosted by Giles Hardy and/or Treena Burgess will be held at Murdoch University on the Monday before the ASM.  The aim is to bring together research groups within the CRC that share a common interest in integrated pest management in temperate eucalypt plantations. The one-day workshop will cover four themes:

1.    Summary of the key regional pest challenges
2.    Current approaches to management (strengths and weaknesses)
3.    Way forward (activities / actions to strengthen current management)
4.    Future issues

To view the program, click here.

One Day Forest Botany Course

A one day forest botany course will be run by the Forest Practices Authority (Tasmania) during the week June 7 – 11, with sessions being conducted in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie. The course is aimed at Forest Practices Officers, forest planners and other people who have an interest in identifying forest species and communities, and learning about natural processes and legislation relating to Tasmania's forest flora.  The course will cover aspects of: evolution and diversity of the Tasmanian flora; taxonomy, evolution and growth of Tasmanian eucalypts; plant identification; patterns and processes in Tasmania's vegetation; management and conservation of forests.  For more information, click here.

Bat Society Conference

The Australasian Bat Society will be holding its 14th annual conference in Darwin, 12-14 July 2010.  Thanks to support from the CRC, PhD student Lisa Cawthen, will be joining fellow chiropterologists to present the results of her first year of research on Tasmanian microbats in plantation landscapes.  You can read more about Lisa's recent activities here and you can visit the conference website by clicking here. ­


Geneticists unite at 2010 GSA conference

The 2010 conference of the Genetics Society of Australasia will be held in Canberra, July 4-8. The plenary program includes international guests speaking on genetic aspects of such diverse fields as co-evolution, sexual systems, hybrid zones, selection, conservation, functionality of chromosomes  and forensics. [visit conference website]

Tree Biotechnology Conference, Brazil 2011

­The increasing availability of genome sequence information from forest trees is fuelling a multitude of studies in sustainable production forestry and conservation.  The IUFRO Tree Biotechnology Conference 2011 will bring together scientists, tree breeders, forest engineers and policy makers to explore the latest research developments, results and visions in biotechnology.  The "dazzling" coast of southern Bahia in Porto Seguro, Brazil, and the nearby plantation estates will form the venue for this exceptional mix of science, social activities and field exploration ... [view "First Conference Announcement"]

International Botanical Congress, Melbourne 2011

­­­­The opportunity to attend a BIG international conference at home ­does not arise very often.  Botanists from around the world will be converging on Melbourne in the last week of July next year to attend the XVIII International Botanical Congress (IBC).    [visit IBC 2011 website]


FPA offer students biodiversity projects with funding!

The Forest Practices Authority (Tasmania) has compiled a list of several tree fern-related student research topics suitable for honours through to PhD level projects and are currently seeking interest from students and potential supervisors. There are topics relating to both flora and fauna. Students undertaking such projects would be eligible for FPA student research grants ($1­000 each) to assist with their work, as well as possible in-kind support from the FPA. [read more]

Eucalyptus grandis genome sequence now available!

The preliminary draft assembly of the E. grandis genome, which is being sequenced by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (JGI), is now available in the public Eucalyptus Genome Database (EucalyptusDB). Members of the Eucalyptus research community and the wider plant genomics community are invited to make use of this resource, which is already widely accessed.  Access EucalyptusDB here.

What's Been On

Forest planners identify habitat hollows

Last November, Anne Chuter and Amy Koch from Tasmania's Forest Practices Authority (FPA) ran two successful field days for forest planners on the identification of hollow-bearing trees used by fauna and the application of the current Forest Practices Code provisions for the management of tree hollows within coupes. About 25-30 people attended each day, including industry partners, DPIPWE and consultants. Attendees of these field days were given a copy of the new booklet ‘Tree hollows in Tasmania – A guide’ that has been produced by the FPA and the CRC for Forestry. This booklet helps the reader identify hollows, habitat trees and recruitment trees.

Threatened eucalypts featured on ABC Stateline

A team of scientists including two of the CRC's eucalypt genetics specialists, Dr Rebecca Jones and Prof Brad Potts, took ABC TV Stateline journalist Fiona Breen and her film crew into the field to examine the plights of two endangered eucalypts, the Mienna cider gum (Eucalyptus gunnii ssp. divaricata) and Morrisby's gum (E. morrisbyi).  You can view the resulting footage or read the transcript here.

Managing landscapes for multiple values­

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 aim of the event was to discuss managing multiple values (social, cultural, environmental) at a landscape level in Tasmania’s production forests ... [read more]

Southern Connections: Tasmania, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego

The sixth Southern Connections Congress was held in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, in February 2011.  Mark Neyland, Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania) and Fred Duncan (Forest Practices Authority) represented the CRC at this event that brought together about 400 scientists who work with a specific Southern Hemisphere focus.  The Tasmanian contingent followed the conference with a road trip south through Patagonia to Tierra del Fuego where they were all supposed to teach at a Forest Ecology Course.  However, all did not go according to plan.  Mark Neyland and Fred Duncan prepared this epic ... [read more]

Sustainable utilisation and conservation of forests in the genomics era

A team of CRC researchers made a significant impact at the IUFRO Malaysia 2010 conference in Kuala Lumpur in March.  The theme for the conference aimed to explore the practical application of genetics and genomics research to issues of sustainable management and conservation of forests.  The conference provided a pleasant balance of research presentations and networking opportunities, all enhanced by the famous Malaysian hospitality ...  [read more]

Victoria's charred forests awash with green

Until the Black Saturday fires of February 2009, the Wallaby Creek watershed on the Hume Plateau, Victoria, was home to one of the most magnificent stands of Eucalyptus regnans in Australia.  The oldest and largest trees germinated in 1701 and had reached 92 meters in height. Professor George Koch (Northern Arizona University) reports how one of his study sites has fared in the wake of the fire.  [read more]

Odd Spot

New market niche for blue gum capsules

During a recent visit to a Hong Kong market, Gunns Projects and Research Manager Ian Ravenwood spied a pile of blue gum (E. globulus) capsules for sale.  Is this something that Tasmanians and Victorians have missed?  A culinary delight? (HOW long do you need to boil them?)  A delicious spice akin to nutmeg or cinnamon bark?  A panacea for all ills?  [click here to find out!]

Subproject 4.2.1 Biodiversity benefits of alternatives to clearfelling

Comparing global biodiversity research and management practices

Forestry Tasmania researcher, Dr Sue Baker, recently took up her position as Australian International Fellow at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon.  Sue is part of a group of research fellows sponsored by the World Forestry Institute who, in addition to conducting their own research, are provided with networking opportunities in the form of field trips and workshops.  Sue's research in Portland involves comparing Tasmania's biodiversity research and management practices to those of the Pacific Northwest.    ... [read more]

Compaction reduction trial in ARN coupes

With the onset of cool autumnal conditions in Tasmania, regeneration burns of this year's aggregated retention coupes are underway.  Results from Liam Hindrum's honours research in 2010 indicated that compaction of firebreaks by bulldozers inhibited regeneration of Eucalyptus in aggregated retention coupes.  So this year a real effort has been made by Forestry Tasmania to minimise the use of bulldozers in the construction of firebreaks around aggregates.  Robyn Scott (Forestry Tasmania and UTAS PhD student) elaborates ... [read more]

Student update

Most of the post graduate students from subproject 4.2.1 have finished their theses!  Mark Neyland submitted his PhD thesis late last year and is awaiting feedback from the examiners; Belinda Browning graduated with a Masters degree and Liam Hindrum was awarded Honours in Plant Science in the December graduations at UTAS.  But Robyn Scott and Helen Stephens are soldiering on ... [read more]

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

Birds, Bats, Remnant Forest and Tree Plantations

In some areas of Australia, plantation forests have increased the amount of forest cover in the landscape and altered the adjacent habitat surrounding remaining native vegetation. The expansion of the plantation estate has  been mostly onto lands previously cleared for agriculture. Patches of remnant native vegetation that were recently surrounded by pasture are now surrounded by plantation forests. What are the consequences of these changes in forest cover to the bird and bat biodiversity in these landscapes? This is the question that Mayumi Knight, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, is posing for her PhD studies.  [read more]

Plantations, native remnants and the insects they could share ...

Since 1994, the area of hardwood plantations across Australia has increased sixfold.  The expansion of the plantation estate into ex-grazing land has increased the "edge" area shared between eucalypt plantations and native eucalypt habitats. Native woodlands contain many species of insect that might impact on tree health and productivity if they were to move into an adjacent plantation.  What might be the consequences of this?  Peter Grimbacher (post-doctoral research fellow, University of Melbourne) is leading a collaboration involving other CRC for Forestry entomologists to examine the trends and impacts over the past 16 years ... [read more]

Plantations provide positive outcomes for beetle biodiversity

In the Green Triangle region of south-eastern South Australia and western Victoria, much of the remnant vegetation is surrounded by either pasture or newly established blue gum plantations. Chela Powell (PhD student, University of Melbourne) has been investigating whether the establishment of blue gum plantations has had a positive or negative effect on beetle biodiversity ... [read more]

Student update

Two students from subproject 4.2.2 have submitted their PhD theses in the past few months, but there is still plenty of research activity going on ... [read more]

Subproject 4.2.3 Biodiversity value of coarse woody debris

Shock illness for Simon, but recovery good

In February 2010, Dr Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania) was diagnosed with leukaemia whilst on a work-related trip to Tierra del Fuego.  He was rushed home to Hobart for emergency treatment.  The prognosis now is good.  Simon's colleagues Mark Neyland (Forestry Tasmania) and Fred Duncan (Forest Practices Authority) who were with him in South America tell the whole story from the Southern Connections Congress in Argentina all the way to the world's southernmost city ... [read more]

The Biodiversity Group at the CRC wishes Simon all the best for a speedy recovery.  We hope to see him fossicking through his coarse woody debris very soon!

The Prostomis diet mystery

There is a mystery in the Southern Forests!  Prostomis beetles that are found in rotting logs are closet eaters!  Their stomachs are full of Coniophora fungus ... and yet there is no Coniophora fungus in their rotting log larders.  SO ... where does Prostomis keep its stash?  [read more]

Student update

Two CRC students of coarse woody debris graduated last December. One student continues to push back the CWD frontiers  ... read more.

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

Bat research wins international support

Lisa Cawthen, one of the CRC's two chiropterologists, has attracted international funding to support her PhD research on long eared bats in Tasmania's production forests.  Grants from Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Trust (based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) and Bat Conservation International Inc. (based in the USA) have helped Lisa to buy six new bat detectors ...  [read more]

Flying higher than an eagle

The third year of eagle monitoring in the FPA eagle study has been completed.  In the last twelve months the number of eagle nests surveyed was nearly doubled from 84 to 142 sites.  A total of 42 hours of fixed wing flying completed this year's aerial work, with over 30 chicks observed at nests ... [read more].

Subdominant forms keystone habitat

A study of tree fern survival and health after logging conducted by the Forest Practices Authority (FPA) is in the final stages of data collection and analysis. It is now three years since the regeneration burns were conducted at the study sites.  Although this part of the project is concluding, there are many questions remaining - lots of opportunities for great student projects!  [read more]

Complex eucalypt species receives genetic treatment

The urn gum, Eucalyptus urnigera, is a Tasmanian endemic eucalypt in the Alpine White Gum complex. While the main core of the species range in south-eastern Tasmania is well protected, there are many outlying populations of the species which appear to be morphologically deviant from core populations and their genetic affinities are not well understood.  An honours student from the University of Tasmania is examining the issue ... [read more]

Student update

The students from subproject 4.2.5 are always busy and interesting.  Catch up on their news by clicking here.

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

Assessing pollen mediated gene flow at the landscape level

Welcome to Matthew Larcombe who has been awarded a competitive PhD scholarship from Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) to be taken up at the University of Tasmania.  Matt will continue and extend the exotic gene flow research program that was started by former UTAS researcher, Dr Robert Barbour.  Matt has already started his field work and glass house trials ... [read more]

Forest practices plans to include off-site gene flow assessments

The Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority (FPA) recently released a technical report that provides information on which native eucalypts are susceptible to hybridisation with E. nitens, how to recognise hybrid seedlings, how to assess and manage hybridisation risk and how to monitor the level of hybridisation.  From now on, FPA officers will assess the risk of gene flow as part of each forest practices plan they prepare.  [ View technical report]

Flowering time in spotted gums is under genetic control

In subtropical Australia spotted gums (Corymbia section Politaria) and their hybrids are the most widely planted hardwood taxa.  Plantations are located within the range of, and often in close proximity to, native spotted gums and other Corymbia species, creating the potential for gene flow between planted and native forests. Southern Cross University PhD student Myralyn Abasolo has been monitoring flowering time in Corymbia citriodora ssp. variegata and has found that it is most likely under genetic control ... [read more]

Student update

Click here to view the latest news from the students of exotic gene flow management.

Subproject 4.2.7 Management of genetic resources

Two blackbutt population studies accepted for publication

The genetic diversity and population stuctures of blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) and large-fruited blackbutt (Eucalyptus pyrocarpa) have been investigated by Merv Shepherd and his team at Southern Cross University and both studies will be published shortly. A paper focusing on E. pilularis  will be available in the Canadian Journal of Forest Research (read abstract) and a separate paper that combines the two species into a single study - with some interesting outcomes - will be published in Conservation Genetics (read abstract).

­Genetic studies contribute to climate change action

Peter Ades thumbnail

­ ­Much of the recent debate about mitigating the effects of climate change on biological systems concerns the movement of species or genetically differentiated populations within a species beyond their current ranges in order to facilitate gene flow and conserve or enhance adaptive potential. Peter Ades attended an NCCARF workshop on this topic, presenting results from genetic studies of forest trees ... [read more]

Victorian seed transfer guidelines reviewed

Peter Ades (University of Melbourne) is currently carrying out a review of genetic aspects of the current guidelines for eucalypt seed collection and usage in Victoria. [read more]

Children of the giant

Seedlings from the world's tallest flowering plant, a giant Eucalyptus regnans, are being grown at the University of Tasmania for genetic studies of mating systems in E. regnans.  The level of inbreeding in the seedlings is surprisingly high compared to the level of inbreeding observed in "normal" trees ...  [read more]

Population structure important in association studies

Sara-bb11-thumbMrs Sara Hadjigol is a new MSc student at the University of Tasmania who is creating important links between CRC Research Projects 2 (Quality Wood Products) and 4.2.7 (Genetic Resource Management).  Sara's project requires detailed information about the geographic and genetic substructuring of E. globulus populations in order to avoid getting false positive results when she identifies gene variants that are linked to variation in frost resistance.  [read more]

Student update

Our most recent PhD students are up-and-running at the University of Tasmania and Southern Cross University.  Click here to find out what they have been up to.

Subproject 4.2.8 Integrated management of browsing mammals

Non-lethal management strategies highlighted in New Zealand symposium

Late last year a contingent of CRC researchers travelled to Napier, New Zealand, to present their research to a diverse audience at the 22nd annual Australasian Wildlife Management Society Conference.  Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra organised a symposium on "Mitigating impacts of pest species through non-lethal management strategies" ... [read more]

­­Integrated approach a must for browser control

Developing non-lethal methods of controlling browsers in eucalypt plantations is the principal research focus of subproject 4.2.8.  A recent workshop hosted by DPIPWE (Tasmania) presented key outcomes of this research, along with overviews of current and future practices.  Tim Wardlaw (Forestry Tasmania) attended ... [read more]


­Australian biota feature at International symposium

Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra and Natasha Wiggins (University of Tasmania) recently gave invited presentations to the British Ecological Society in their 2010 symposium series on "The integrative role of plant secondary metabolites in ecological systems" ... [read more]

Birth rate soars in browsing mammal research group

Two more babies have joined the browsing mammals research family.  Congratulations to Alison Miller and Christina Borzak on the safe arrivals of their first children ... [read more]


Student update

Click here to read a summary of recent student activity in subproject 4.2.8.

­Subproject 4.2.9 Lethal trap trees


Mixed results from trap tree trials

It has been a busy summer for Jane and Vin and their various helpers in conducting the first season of testing the lethal trap tree concept in a plantation setting. The past four months have been spent furiously monitoring insect populations, trap-tree kill rates and levels of defoliation in six trap tree plantations.  [read more]

Subproject 4.2.10 Improving Mycosphaerella leaf disease resistance in Eucalyptus globulus

Unravelling the genetic control of the susceptibility of Eucalyptus globulus to Mycosphearella leaf disease

Dr Matthew Hamilton has returned to the CRC as a quantitative geneticist.  One of Matt’s first tasks has been to undertake an analysis of the genetic variation in Mycosphearella leaf disease damage which occurred following a disease outbreak in a large plantation in Western Australia.  [read more]


­Subproject 4.4 Integrated Pest Management Group (Western Australia and Green Triangle)

IPMG - reaching out, developing new tools and creating links

The IPMG has stepped up its efforts to provide pest management tools to blue gum plantation companies. Following industry consultation, work is underway on developing a Personal Digital Assistant system that will allow foresters to electronically record plantation health problems in the field ... [read more]

Related sites

Forest Practices Authority


The editor of BioBuzz is Dr Dorothy Steane. Please contact Dot with any feedback or with your ideas for BioBuzz 12 (August 2010).