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BioBuzz 7 (November 2008)

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Issue seven - November 2008 e-newsletter
BioBuzz - Biodiversity news

Hot spot - Why has biological control of snout beetles in WA failed?

TendaiThe Eucalyptus snout beetle (Gonipterus scutellatus) is a minor plantation pest in its native range of south-eastern Australia, but a significant pest in Western Australia and abroad. Recent research by Tendai Mapondera, an honours student at Murdoch University, sheds light on why efforts to control this pest in the West have so far been unsuccessful. [read more]

Industry perspective

JustineBiodiversity is an essential component of plantation forestry, from the micro (soil biodiversity) to the macro (catchment) scales. 

Justine Edwards explains the importance of biodiversity research to the forestry program of Great Southern Limited. [read more]

Biodiversity project update

Brad PottsIn November the CRC Forestry will be und­ergoing its third year review.  It is now time to take stock of our research aims,­ progress and achievement.  Looking back it is really quite remarkable how far we have come in three years.

[read more]

What's on?

Matt Hamilton finds other fish to fry

Matt Hamilton thumbnailDr Matt Hamilton, who did his PhD with the CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry and has been working with project 4.2.10 for the past six months, is soon to move on.  As a testament to the transferability of skills acquired in forestry, Matt will be joining the fish breeding program at CSIRO in Hobart. [read more]

CRCF Annual Science Meeting - are you ready?

Have you registered for the CRC Forestry Annual Science Meeting in Launceston, November 5-7 2009? This annual event is a great opportunity to view the research progress across the CRC, as well as to network with CRC colleagues in a pleasant environment, away from the everyday distractions of phones and email.   Overviews of the Biodiversity pr­oject will be presented by Neil Davidson and Robert Barbour.  Neil Davidson will be organising a field trip after the conference to visit some study sites in the Tasmanian midlands.

Wanted: Postgraduate students

Would you - or someone you know - like to do a PhD on biodiversity issues in forestry landscapes?  The CRC Forestry is currently offering nine full and top up scholarships for projects in biodiversity at the University of Melbourne, Murdoch University, Southern Cross University and the University of Tasmania.  Topics are diverse, including biodiversity management, chemical ecology, gene pool management, landscape ecology and environmental management.  Go to the CRC Forestry Scholarship website for more information.

Australasian Wildlife Management Conference (AWMS) 2008

The 2008 AWMS Conference will be held at the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, Western Australia, from 24-27 November. The theme of the conference is ‘Human Impacts on Wildlife', encompassing such topics as invasive and threatened species, climate change, habitat disturbance and sustainable use of wildlife. The 2008 conference will feature a number of high-profile invited speakers as well as a fantastic student symposium and prizes. Download a conference brochure and poster.

Plant and Animal Genomes XVII Conference 2009

Dot Steane thumbnailThe seventeenth Plant and Animal Genomes Conference will be held in San Diego, California, USA, in January 2009.  Dr Dorothy Steane will be attending to present exciting new results from a set of newly-developed molecular markers (DArT markers).  Although she will be wearing her "Program Two" hat there are many links between her research in program two and the CRC's Biodiversity project.

Australian Ecological Society Conference, Sydney, December 2008

The 33rd Australian Ecological Society (ESA) Annual Conference will be held later this year.  This year's theme is "Interactions in Science, Interactions in Nature" and will focus on interactions in nature between individuals, assemblages of species, and the abiotic environment. The CRC will be well-represented at this conference with Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania), Neil Davidson, Robert Barbour, Julianne O’Reilly-Wapstra, PhD students Tanya Bailey, Christina Borzak, Helen Stephens and Honours student Jennifer Sanger (all from UTAS) attending.

Charles Darwin Conference, Melbourne, February 2009

Celebrating the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth (February 12, 1809) and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species, Evolution – the Experience will be embedded in rich menu of public events, each in their own way touching the Darwinian theme – theatre, film, forums, debates and exhibitions involving theatre companies, orchestras, cinemas, museums, art galleries, libraries, botanic gardens, zoos, herbaria, schools, universities and the media. Evolution – the Experience will explore the breadth and depth of Darwin’s ongoing impact in basic biology, agriculture, medicine, psychology, sociology, politics, history and religion.

Coming soon!  Landscape design management workshop

Scottsdale_thumbAll landscapes are cultural and only an integrated approach to landscape assessment will allow us to comprehend the range of values that are present in any one area. It is the human determination of the values within the landscape that generates significance.  The Forest Practices Authority, Tasmania, will be holding a workshop - "The Methodology of Rural Landscape Assessment" - that will explore the methodology of landscape assessment and characterisation, integrating approaches for assessing a range of values including biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage. The workshop will be followed by a field day and will be of interest to any forest managers/planners/researchers involved in the management of production forests.  The proposed timing for the event is March/April 2009.  Watch this space!

ANU/CRC Forestry Seminar Day, October 2008

Managing Australia's forests for their carbon stocks, as well as for other values, adds a further layer of complexity and challenge to both policy and management regimes. Recent reports and public debates have highlighted significant areas of uncertainty associated with accounting for forest carbon stocks and fluxes, and associated policy and management options. This forum will explore current scientific understanding of carbon stocks and fluxes in Australia's forests, the likely consequences of different policy and management regimes, and identify key areas of uncertainty and how they might be addressed.

IUFRO 2010 Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and the Environment

The IUFRO Congress that will be held in Seoul, Korea, in August 2010, will be one of the largest global forest events, with expected attendance to exceed 2,000 participants. It will bring together scientists and stakeholders from all parts of the world to discuss scientific and technical issues related to priority areas of forest research, policy and management. The theme will be 'Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and Environment'. The World Congress will present an important opportunity to promote understanding of the forest's role contributing to the sustainability of the planet.

What's been on?

Biodiversity well-represented at ICE

ICE conference thumbnailFour members of the Biodiversity group and one from Project 4.4 (the Integrated Pest Management Group) went to Durban, South Africa, in July to attend the XXIII International Conference of Entomology (ICE 2008).  Dr Julianne O'Reilly-Wapstra (UTAS), Dr Jane Elek (Forestry Tasmania), Dr Treena Burgess (Murdoch University) and two PhD students, Belinda Yaxley (UTAS) and Chela Powell (UMelb) returned from the conference with diverse - but equally valuable - experiences. [read more]

Australian pests are a global problem

­­Whilst in South Africa in July, Dr Jane Elek (Forestry Tasmania) attended a IUFRO meeting of people concerned with forest entomology, in particular pests of eucalypt plantations.  Whilst in the field the scientists also encountered another, much larger, forest pest. [read more]

Forest genetics research takes lime light in North America

­bec jones thumbnailIn August UTas PhD student, Rebecca Jones, gave two oral presentations at a IUFRO-CTIA conference entitled "Adaptation, Breeding and Conservation in the Era of Forest Tree Genomics and Environmental Change" in Quebec City, Canada.  The conference was followed up with visits to leading research groups at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, and Oregon State University, USA. [read more]

Water conferences tackle more than drought

tom wright thumbnailTom Wright, a PhD student at the University of Melbourne, recently travelled to Birmingham, England, to attend a postgraduate students' conference to discuss global water issues.  While the Australian delegates focused on drought, other attendees were more concerned with other issues, from flood prediction to pollution. Back in Australia, Tom attended the inaugural ecohydrology and ecophysiology workshop in Western­ Australia, where he focussed more on the physiological responses of different species to reduced water resources. [read more]

Forests and climate change: the intelligence test for humanity

Peter Volker ThumbnailThe International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environmental and development challenges by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.  Peter Volker (Forestry Tasmania) recently attended the IUCN World Conservation Congress and shares his impressions. [read more]

Tallest flowering plant on earth moves!

E RegnanIn April 2007 we reported on the successful use of LIDAR for identifying giant trees within tall eucalypt forests (click here to read article from Biobuzz 2, April 2007).  Eighteen months later, LIDAR has identified the tallest flowering plant on earth.  The previous record was 97 m, held by "Icarus Dream", a swamp gum (Eucalyptus regnans) in the Styx Valley.  That record has now been smashed by four metres.  The new giant measures an awesome 101 m and is located less than five kilometres from Foretry Tasmania's Tahune Airwalk. [read more]

Naming the giants

Glob thumbnailThe Tasmanian blue gum is one of the  tallest of all eucalypt species.  Four giant trees are known today, and the huge stem volume of one of these makes it the most massive of all Tasmanian trees.  While other giant trees in Tasmania have diverse names from Greek mythology and the contemporary world, the search is on for Aboriginal names for these four blue gums. [read more]

Australian mammal conference

mammal conference thumbnailThe Australian Mammal Society (AMS) is an interdisciplinary society of biologists whose common interest is in the biology and conservation of Australian mammals.  Two CR­C Forestry PhD candidates recently attended the 57th annual AMS conference in Darwin. Lisa Cawthen reports. [read more]

Planning for biodiversity values in production forest in the Wielangta area

Brad field trip with FPA'Adaptive management' is a term used to describe how information from observation and research is incorporated into on-ground management, with prescriptions and practices changing or evolving in response to new information.  Fred Duncan, from the Forest Practices Authority (Tasmania), reports on adaptive management that has resulted from cooperative research and information sharing by the many stakeholders concerned with the Wielangta Forests of Southern Tasmania. [read more]

Forestry students master environmental issues

Seventeen students from the National Forestry Masters Program visited Tasmania recently to undertake a unit on "Plantations and the Environment".  The unit was taught by a panel of experts from the CRC. [read more]

Biodiversity researcher attends weed conference

Bob Barbour at weed conferenceIn October Dr Robert Barbour (UTAS) attended the second Tasmanian Weed conference entitled 'Why the Weeds Won't Win'. While most of the conference was focused on the management of weed invasion through seed dispersal within the agricultural and horticultural industries, Robert's poster focussed on issues associated with dispersal by pollen.

IUFRO conference papers now available

The most recent issue of Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science contains papers from a last year's meeting of a IUFRO Working Group (2.08.03) entitled "Eucalypts and Diversity: Balancing Productivity and Sustainability".  The meeting was held in Durban, South Africa, 22-26 October 2007.

Odd spot

Lord of the thistles champions Tasmanian blue gum

The Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) is Tasmania's floral emblem.  But who decided?  Royalty?  Well ... almost. [read more]

Subproject 4.2.1 Biodiversity benefits of alternatives to clearfelling

A French connection in the southern forests

­Mona and Mark thumbTwo forestry students from France are collaborating with Forestry Tasmania staff to identify factors that influence the plant species composition of early succession after harvesting in aggregated retention coups.

[read more]

Efficacy of aggregated retention in mammal conservation under investigation

Helen Stephens thumbnailHelen Stephens recently gave her introductory PhD seminar at the University of Tasmania.  The seminar was titled "Does aggregated retention provide suitable habitat for mammal conservation in old growth forests?"  Download a pdf of her presentation.

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.1.

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

CRC student models plantation landscape outcomes

­Mr Himlal BaralHimlal Baral is a new PhD student at the University of Melbourne.  Himlal's PhD research, based on the plantation landscape of the Green Triangle, will examine various ways of integrating timber production with the conservation of other ecosystem services at the landscape level. [read more]

High nutrient levels cause poor health in native woodlands

A collaborative research project between Dugald Close from the Bushfire CRC and Neil Davidson and Tim Watson (CRC Forestry and UTAS) has shown that the health of remnant woodlands in agricultural landscapes is compromised by high soil nutrient levels associated with grazing stock.  The results have been published in the international journal Biological Conservation. [read more]

Forest health research takes molecular path

Forest Research Briony thumbnailBryony Horton has returned from a study trip to the University of California where she undertook some DNA sequencing of various forest fungi mycorrhizae and fruiting bodies to try to tie the fruiting bodies with the vegetative stage.

[read more]

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.2. 

Subproject 4.2.3 Biodiversity value of coarse woody debris

Development of coarse woody debris management prescriptions

Modelling of CWD dynamics by Dr Simon Grove of Forestry Tasmania suggests that CWD-dependent species that are reliant on logs derived from large, old trees are likely to become scarcer in production forest landscapes dominated by coupes subjected to clearfelling on 80-100 year cycles unless effective conservation measures are set in place. [read more]

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.3.

Subproject 4.2.4 Tools for monitoring and assessing biodiversity

Warra web pages improved and ready for action!

 4.2.3 thumbnailForestry ­Tasmania scientists have been upgrading the functionality of the species identification section of the Warra web pages.  This on-line resource is becoming increasingly useful in aiding identification of the thousands of beetle specimens arising from the Warra log decay project work and other related studies in the southern forests.  We hope that others (not just beetle enthusiasts) will find these pages useful too. [read more]

NIRS aids rapid hybrid identification

NIRSIdentification of plant hybrids produced from closely related species can be difficult using only morphological characteristics, especially when identifying young seedlings.  John Humphries (UTAS) has developed a method that allows rapid identification of Eucalyptus hybrids using near infra-red spectroscopy (NIRS). His results are in press. [read more]

Tool for defining the Eucalyptus globulus genetic resource

E Glob thumbnailThe Tasmanian blue gum, Eucalyptus globulus, is the main hardwood species grown in plantations in temperate regions of the world (including Australia).  One of the goals of this project is to better understand the patterns of genetic diversity that exist in  native populations of E. globulus. A tool that translates the results of our research into a user-friendly tool for tree breeders and forest managers is available on-line ...[read more]

Threatened Fauna Advisor to have major upgrade

Thumbnail - BirdThe CRC for Forestry will co-invest with the Tasmanian Forest Practices Authority in the upgrade of the Threatened Fauna Adviser.  This computer-based expert system is a major conduit for adoption of Biodiversity research results into prescriptions and forestry planning decisions. [read more]

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

New eucalypt taxa for the island of Tasmania

Gay mckinnon thumbnailCurrent classifications of many of our eucalypt species do not account for the large amount of spatially or ecologically structured genetic diversity that can occur within species.  For finer-scale management of our forest genetic resources, it is important that formal ‘labels’ be given to identifiable components of this genetic diversity, particularly where it is spatially or ecologically explicit.  Two subspecies of the Tasmanian endemic Eucalyptus cordata were described recently to address this. [read more]

Saving the genes of one of Australia’s rarest eucalypts

Dean Williams thumbMorrisby's gum, Eucalyptus morrisbyi, is endemic to Tasmania and is one of Australia’s rarest eucalypt species.  Despite being in a protected flora reserve, one genetically distinct population of E. morrisbyi has undergone dramatic decline in the last 20 years.  In a collaborative effort between the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian State Government and Forestry Tasmania, seed from this threatened population is being put aside for future generations. [read more]

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.5. 

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

Fitness tests for exotic hybrids

Bob Barbour thumbOne potential impact of the large area of eucalypt plantations being established across Australia is the movement of plantation pollen into native eucalypt populations, resulting in hybridisation and introgression of non-local genes. This risk is being assessed through a multifaceted research project headed by Robert Barbour. [read more]

Exotic eucalypt hybrids go undercover

bob barbour thumbnailYoung hybrid offspring of native Tasmanian Eucalyptus ovata and exotic E. nitens are readily identifiable by their distinctive juvenile foliage.  However, as the exotic hybrids mature they become difficult to distinguish from the native E. ovata.  This forms a conundrum for forest managers when it comes to identifying the exotic invaders. [read more]

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.6. 

Subproject 4.2.7 Management of genetic resources

Genetics of temperature adaptation assists seed transfer success

Alastair-reid-thumbRecent extensive bushfires have seriously depleted forests of Eucalyptus delegatensis in Victoria.  Many stands burnt in 2003 or 2007 have not regenerated and "off-site" seed has had to be used for artificial regeneration.  Alastair Reed (UMelb) recently completed a PhD thesis on the genetics of frost tolerance in E. delegatensis and his results are being incorporated into seed transfer guidelines for this species. [read more]

Eucalyptus nitens breeding and genetic resources reviewed

Florentine ThumbnailEucalyptus nitens is the second most widely planted eucalypt species in  Australia and is being genetically improved both in Australia and overseas.  Matt Hamilton and co-authors recently published two reviews of E. nitens breeding and genetic resources in Australian breeding programs. [read more]

Stringy bark research makes headway

 Justin BloomfieldA new study into genetic variation in Eucalyptus obliqua has been given a boost by new technology.  Justin Bloomfield, an honours student at the University of Tasmania, has collected samples from across Tasmania and is embarking on a new fast-paced genotyping program. [read more]

­­Late developer reaches maturity ... after 29 years

Rod Griffin thumbnailAfter 29 years a field trial of Eucalyptus regnans has finally decided to produce some flowers.  Professor Rod Griffin recently re-visited a field trial he had established over a quarter of a century ago to study the breeding system of this forest giant and shares his thoughts. [read more]

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.7. 

Subproject 4.2.8  Integrated management of browsing mammals

Comparing strategies for surviving browsers

Christina Borzak thumbnailOver the winter months Christina Borzak (PhD student, UTAS) has been planting trials to assess the efficacy of different strategies that allow blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus) to live with the effects of mammalian browsers.

[read more]

Will elevated CO2 affect the diets of plantation pests?

Cass Price - thumbnailCas­sandra Price, a new UTAS  honours student, will be examining the effect of elevated carbon dioxide on the chemical composition of blue gum leaves and the down-stream response of a common plantation insect pest. [read more]

Student update

Click here to learn about CRC students associated with subproject 4.2.8. 

Subproject 4.2.9 Lethal trap trees

Choice experiments give beetles indigestion

The development of lethal trap trees is proceeding well, after a second year of planting plots of trap trees into new Eucalyptus nitens plantations.  Back in the lab, choice experiments have shown that foliage cut from Eucalyptus regnans trees that had been stem-infused with systemic insecticide deterred Paropsisterna leaf beetles from eating too much and gave them serious indigestion. [read more]

Subproject 4.2.10  Improving Mycosphaerella leaf disease resistance in Eucalyptus globulus

DNA profiling can help to identify which Mycosphaerella species are attacking your blue gums

leaf with crypic thumbnailWhen evaluating genetic differences in susceptibility of blue gums (Eucalyptus globulus) to Mycosphaerella leaf disease it is important to define the actual species of pathogen responsible for the damage.  However, it is often difficult to differentiate Mycosphaerella species based on field symptoms, especially when multiple species are present.  A DNA-based technique has been developed that allows rapid discrimination of five key Mycosphaerella species. [read more]

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

Why has biological control of snout beetles in WA failed?

Honours student Tendai Mapondera (Murdoch University) has produced some great results in his Honours project.  You can read about these in the Hot Spot in this issue of Biobuzz!  One of his supervisors, Dr Treena Burgess, presented Tendai's results at the recent ICE conference in Durban, South Africa.  You can download the pdf of her presentation here, and read more about CRC representatin at the ICE conference here.

Business in the field

The IPMG has a strong focus on extension work aimed at adoption of research results for integrated pest management in blue gum plantations in south-west Western Australia and the Green Triangle.  The project coordinates regular monitoring of natural enemy and insect herbivore activity in blue gum plantations, develops protocols for assessment of insect pests for project partners and provides regular technology transfer through field days and training of company personnel.  For a summary of their recent activities ...[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 8 (February 2009).