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Matthew Larcombe

Matthew LarcombeMr Matthew Larcombe
PhD student

Topic: Gene flow between plantation and native eucalypts

University of Tasmania


With the rapid expansion of eucalypt plantations in Australia over the last decade, there is a need for strategies to assess and manage the risk of exotic gene flow into native eucalypt populations. It has been shown that gene flow (through pollen mediated hybridisation) is occurring from both Eucalyptus nitens and E. globulus plantations into neighbouring native eucalypt forest.  The challenge now for the plantation industry is to accuaretly assess and manage the risk of exotic gene flow from plantations, to minimise the potential negative impacts on native forest, and to ensure the sustainability of the industry. This project will focus on the risk of gene flow from either E. nitens on the island of Tasmania, or E. globulus plantations across southern Australia, into native eucalypt forests. The project aims to provide the basic biological information necessary to develop strategies for assessing and managing this risk. My project will investigate physical, temporal and taxonomic barriers to gene flow, as well as examining the relative fitness of locally exotic species and their hybrids and the potential ecosystem effects of hybrids within natural landscapes. It is hoped this approach will enable the identification of when, where, and how gene flow from exotic eucalypt plantations should be managed in southern Australia. The project is funded by the University of Tasmania, Forest and Wood Products Australia and the CRC biodiversity project (4.2).

My supervisors for the project are Professor Brad Potts (CRC Program Manager & University of Tasmania, School of Plant Science), and Associate Professor René Vaillancourt (University of Tasmania, School of Plant Science)

In 2006 I completed Honours at the University of Tasmania, investigating the conservation genetics and ecology of a locally threatened plant. Following this I worked for three years on threatened flora for the State Government in Tasmania, before returning to UTAS to start my PhD in February 2010.