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CRC for Forestry > Newsletters > Biodiversity: BioBuzz > Issue nine (August 2009)

Biobuzz 9 (August 2009)

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­Issue nine - August 2009 e-newsletter
BioBuzz - Biodiversity news­

Hot Spot

Tree genetics can affect plantation biodiversity

Bob Barbour thumbnailWhile it is well known that the choice of germplasm used in industrial plantations or restoration planting of forest trees will affect plantation productivity and profitability, there has been little appreciation of the flow-on consequences that the choice of tree germplasm has on the broader community of organisms which develops within the plantation.  Recently published research by Dr Robert Barbour (formerly of UTAS) investigates the effects of genetic variation within blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) on the organisms that live on and under the trees.

[read m­ore]

What's On

­Mammalogical Congress

­10th International Mammalogical Congress­In August UTAS PhD student Helen Stephens (subprojects 4.2.1 and 4.2.8) will be attending the 10th International Mammalogical Congress which is being held in Mendoza, Argentina. Helen will be presenting the results from her study “Does aggregated retention provide suitable habitat for mammal conservation in old growth forests?” during the poster sessions associated with the symposium “Conserving mammals in fragmented landscapes”. Helen received funding to attend this conference from the the UTAS Graduate Research Office Conference Funding Scheme and the School of Plant Science.

[Visit the International Mammalogical Congress website]

Ecological Restoration Conference 

SERI conference thumbnailThe Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) International's 2009 World Conference will  be held in Perth, Western Australia, from 23rd to 27th August.  CRCF scientists including Neil Davidson (UTAS), Robert Archibald (MURD),  Brad Potts (UTAS), and Robert Barbour (ex UTAS) will be attending, along with several PhD students from Biodiversity subproject 4.2.2.  Neil Davidson will be chairing a session and presenting a talk in the Disturbance and Fire session.  PhD student Tanya Bailey (UTAS) will be presenting a talk in the Forest Restoration session.  Brad Potts and Robert Barbour will both present invited talks in the Restoration Genetics section.

[Visit the conference website]

IFA Biennial conference 2009

The Institute of Foresters of Australia will be holding its biennial conference between the 6th and 10th of September in Caloundra, Queensland.  The conference's theme is "Forestry: a climate of change" and there is an exciting line-up of key note speakers who will be focussing on the effect of climate change on forest ecosystems, ecosystem services as well as innovation and management changes.  Himlal Baral (PhD student, UMelb) will be attending the conference to present his paper "GIS-based classification, mapping and valuation of ecosystem services in production landscapes: a case study of Green Triangle region of south-eastern Australia" (download Himlal's abstract here).  To register for the conference or to find out more.

[Visit the IFA Conference website]

Darwin 200

This year marks the Charles Darwin's 200th birthday.  Evolutionary biologists all over the world have been celebrating the auspitious occasion with coferences, symposia and parties in Darwin's honour. Fittingly, one of the commemorative events is being held in Darwin (Northern Territory), 25-28 September 2009. "DARWIN 200: Evolution and Biodiversity " combines the 40th AGM and scientific conference of the Australian Entomological Society, the 9th Invertebrate Biodiversity & Conservation Conference, and biennial meeting of the Society of Australian Systematic Biologists.  Cheryl O'Dwyer from Melbourne University will join the Darwinian celebrations by presenting results from her research on insect assemblages in grey box grassy woodlands.

[Visit the Darwin 200 website]

Southern Connections 2010

Southern connections conference thumbnailMark Neyland, Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania) and Fred Duncan (Forest Practices Authority) will travel to Argentina in February  next year to attend the sixth Southern Connections Conference that will be held in San Carlos de Bariloche.  The conference is entitled "Gondwana reunited: a southern perspective for a changing world" and will consider the past history, current characteristics, and future perspectives of southern temperate ecosystems and biota in a global context.

[Visit the Southern Connections Conference website]

What's Been On

Biodiversity impacts of building a building

Biodiversity impact building"Sustainability" is a word on everyone's lips these days - sustainable agriculture, sustainable management, sustainable energy and even sustainable buildings.  With regard to the last of these, we usually think of the water use and energy efficiency of the buildings once they are built.  However, in the process of construction there are many issues that could also be considered, including the biodiversity impacts of the production of building materials.  Matthew Hamilton, Michael Brown and Greg Nolan recently produced a report that compares the biodiversity impacts of timber and other building materials.   The report may be downloaded by clicking here

OFNM conference volume available now!

The most recent issue of Forest Ecology and Management (Volume 258, issue 4, 30 July 2009) is dedicated to articles from the Old Forests New Management conference, held in Hobart in February last year.  Entitled "Old forests, new management: the conservation and use of old growth forests in the 21st century" the volume contains 20 articles, including five by scientists from Forestry Tasmania  and one by scientists at the Forest Practices Authority (Tasmania) who are involved with the Biodiversity subproject of the CRC .  People with access to ScienceDirect journals may access the volume here.

Fire kills Victorian forest giants

Victoria Bush FiresThe catastrophic bush fires in Victoria in February caused devastation not only to human communities but also to biological communities.  What was once majestic old growth forest is now a charred forest skeleton.  Many of the really tall trees have been killed or severely damaged.  But all is not lost.  Just as townships are rebuilding, there life is stirring in the forests.

[read more]

Odd Spot

Where has all the South African blue gum gone?

Brad Potts in South Africa In a recent trip to South Africa, Brad Potts (UTAS) went in search of the South African land race of the Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus).  To his astonishment he discovered that the modern population is but a shadow of its former glorious self.

­[read more]

Subproject 4.2.1 Biodiversity benefits of alternatives to clearfelling

A new silviculture for Tasmania's public forests

421_silvicultureIn May 2009 Forestry Tasmania released a review of the variable retention program as part of its commitment under the Tasmanian Community Forest Agreement to research and implement alternatives to clearfelling. The review is based on research undertaken by Forestry Tasmania and includes research done by Sue Baker, Mark Neyland, Robyn Scott and Simon Grove who are involved with subprojects 4.2.1 and 4.2.3 of the CRC.  You can download the report here.

Skilled­ use of fire yields results in aggregated retention coupes

styxA considerable amount of skill is required to control the burn within an aggregated retention coupe.  Forestry Tasmania personnel are honing their skills to produce some favourable results.

[read more]



Great Scott!  It's baby James!

421_baby_james_thumbIt has been a while since the Biodiversity Group has been able to report a new addition to the family. Congratulations to Robyn Scott and Dave White on the birth of baby James White.  James arrived on the 6th of May with a healthy weight of 8 lb 2 oz (or 3.68 kg).­­


Student update

To learn more about student research progress in subproject 4.2.1, click here.

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

Remnant workshop brings industry, science and conservation groups together

workshop in AlbanyA workshop held in Albany WA in May 2009 examined the management of degraded remnant vegetation within plantations. The event attracted over 40 participants from the plantation industry, government agencies, community groups and research institutions. Much passion, concern and enthusiasm was apparent among the participants and it was agreed that industry and community groups should work together to achieve bigger and better restoration outcomes.

[read more]

Does the quality and size of native vegetation remnants within blue-gum plantations influence ground-dwelling invertebrate assemblages?

powell thumbnailWe all know that large, high quality habitats have higher biodiversity, right?  Well, this may not be strictly true.  The influence that habitat patch size and quality exert on ground-dwelling invertebrate assemblages in remnant native vegetation is being assessed Chela Powell, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne. Chela has found some interesting - but unexpected - results.

[read more]

Burnt seedbeds grow stronger seedlings

seedling plotTanya Bailey (PhD student, University of Tasmania) is studying eucalypt seedling recruitment in native dry forest remnants in the Tasmanian midlands.  Now in her second year of study, Tanya is finding that the relationship between fire, soil and seedlings is a lot more complex than you might expect.

[read more]

Student update

To learn more about student research progress in subproject 4.2.2, click here.

Subproject 4.2.3 Biodiversity value of coarse woody debris

The Warra log decay project – the final beetle tally

Warra Log Decay ProjectIn February this year, a decade of sampling invertebrates living in decaying logs at Warra came to an end when the last emergence-traps were ceremoniously removed.  Lynne Forster has completed sorting beetles from the 6,608 samples, and the data, comprising 17,309 beetles, are now ready for analysis.

[read more]

Tasmanian deadwoodological expertise in demand in Sweden

Tasmanian in SwedenFor the second time in four years, Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania) has travelled to Sweden as an invited expert in matters deadwoodological.  Four years ago, it was to provide an external assessment of a long-term research program focused on catering for dead wood biodiversity in Sweden’s managed forests.  This time, the trip was to act as the ‘opponent’ for doctoral student Nicklas Jansson’s thesis ‘defence’ at Linköping University.

[read more]

Student update

Click here to find out what the deadwoodology students have been up to recently.

Subproject 4.2.4 Tools for monitoring and assessing biodiversity

GIS assists tree-hollow management

Amy Koch (Forest Practices Authority, Tasmania) has been looking at photos and GIS mapping layers in order to develop tools and guidelines to facilitate habitat identification and management.

[read more]

Blue gum distribution review­ed for swift parrot habitat management

Swift Parrot by D Watts Eucalyptus globulus flowers are an important source of food for the threatened swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) during its breeding season. To assist with the management of swift parrot habitat, the natural range of Eucalyptus globulus in Tasmania was reviewed recently and a GIS (geographic information system) surface has been produced.

­­­­ [read more]

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

Have funds - need bat detector!

Lisa Cawthen, a UTAS postgraduate student, studying bats and their use of forest remnants, was recently awarded grants from the Holsworth Wildlife Research Trust, the M.A. Ingram Turst and the Ecological Society of Australia for the costs associated with field work and equipment.  Congratulations, Lisa!  Despite her success with funding she doesn't have quite enough money to purchase bat detectors.  If anyone has bat detectors (Anabats) available for loan or would like to purchase and lend them to Lisa for her research, she would be very interested to hear from you!

[Contact Lisa]

Wedge-tailed eagle nesting habits exposed!

Eagle Nests Copyright W.E. Brown The first year report for the CRC affiliated  wedge-tailed eagle monitoring project is now available. This reports on the selection of nest sites to be monitored and the preliminary first year results.

[read more]

Possum results provide food for thought

Erin Flynn milking a possumErin Flynn (PhD student, University of Tasmania) has been studying the influence of vegetation type and habitat disturbance on population size, structure and condition in the common brush tailed possum.  Erin has now finished her field work and has recently been in the laboratory analysing biological samples.

[read more]

Student update

The students have been busy.

[read more]

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

How far does Eucalyptus globulus pollen travel?

Martyn Lavery treeclimbingAn understanding of the extent to which pollen is dispersed in the landscape is   important in assessing and managing the risk of gene flow between plantation and native forest.  In a collaborative study led by Dr. Makiko Mimura from the University of Tsukuba, Japan and started in 2006, molecular markers have been used to model effective pollen dispersal in native populations of Eucalyptus globulus

[read more]

Subproject 4.2.7 Management of genetic resources

Ashes to ashes: long term E. regnans study comes full circle

Ashes to ashes: Des Stackpole reportsIn June 2009, Professor Rod Griffin and his trusty field assistant Des Stackpole travelled from Tasmania to South Gippsland to pay homage to a 30 year old plantation, accompanied by the intrepid mature-aged tree climber and seed collection expert Marty Lavery.  Des Stackpole reports.

[read more]

Geneticists get down to business

Peter Ades thumbnailIn June 2009, Peter Ades (University of Melbourne) joined colleagues from UTAS to update industry partners at Forestry Tasmania on the fine and broad scale population genetics of the ashes - in particular Eucalyptus obliqua and E. regnans.

[read more]

Cross program linkages in Blackbutt research

Merv Shepherd and co-workers at Southern Cross University are involved with the CRC's research program 2 (High Value Wood Resources) in a project that aims to use association genetics to identify genes of commercial importance in blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis).  Part of the process of discovering associations between genetic markers, genes and wood properties involves understanding and accounting for any genetic structure that exists in the populations being studied.  This research also provides information relevant to the management of genetic resources.

 [read more]

New student to tackle Corymbia gene flow issues

Merv Shepherd's research group at Southern Cross University welcomes a new PhD student to the team. Myralyn Abasolo will be studying the 'whys, hows and what-ifs' of gene flow from Corymbia plantations into native vegetation.

[read more]

Student update

Publications and theses are emerging thick and fast.

[read more]

Subproject 4.2.8 Integrated management of browsing mammals

Smelly stockings scare peckish possums

Smelly Stockings cartoon by Fred Duncan Alison Miller's research on the control of mammal browsers using genetically repulsive eucalypt provenances, physical deterrents such as grit or net stockings and chemical repellents such as Sentree may be extended  in future to develop "smelly stockings" - stockings so smelly that even a hungry possum would lose its appetite.  Boy - they must smell bad!

[read more]

Cute and cuddly

Naomis baby - thumbnail­Subproject 4.2.8 has an unfair advantage over many of the other subprojects - in the "public interest" department - due to its attractive, "cute and cuddly" subjects.  UTAS PhD student, Naomi Glancy recently produced her very own cute ­and cuddly playmate (though, unlike other of Naomi's subjects this one is not furry!).  Naomi's son, Conor Andrew Dean was born on 13th July 2009; for the statisticians among us, he measured 54 cm in length and weighed in at 4 kg (8 pounds,14 ounces).  Congratulations, Naomi! (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)


Subproject 4.2.9 Lethal trap trees

Combatting the curse of the chrysomelids

Nelson Wei - Lethal trap treesThe data are rolling in from last season's trails of lethal trap trees and the scientists are busily deciding on the best plan of defense against those pesky chrysomelid leaf beetles. Trials around Tasmania are entering adulthood which means that this spring the trees will finally be susceptible to beetle attack.  Bring 'em on!

[read more]

Subproject 4.2.10 Improving Mycosphaerella leaf disease resistance in Eucalyptus globulus

Frost hMycosphaerella trial hit by frostits new Myco trial

In April this year frost caused damage to seedlings in the new blue gum/Mycosphaerella trial at Gould’s Country in north-eastern Tasmania.

[read more]

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

Integrated Pest Management GroupThis year marks the tenth anniversary of the IPMG.  In a series of mid-year workshops in the Green Triangle and Western Australia the IPMG team presented an overview of a decade of research and ­summarised their knowledge of all things pestilent in blue gum plantations.

[read more]

Related sites

Forest Practices Authority newsletter

The editor of BioBuzz is Dr Dorothy Steane. Please contact Dot with any feedback or with your ideas for BioBuzz 10 (December 2009).