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Belinda Yaxley

profile_yaxley_thumbBelinda Yaxley
PhD student

Topic: biology and conservation ecology of selected saproxylic beetle species (in Tasmania's southern forests).

University of Tasmania

A long history of forest management in Europe has caused many species that are dependent upon dead and decaying wood (known as saproxylic or log-dwelling species) to become rare on that continent. Doing something about it once they become rare can be complicated and expensive. European forest practices often resulted in the retention of very little woody debris on the forest floor. It is this woody debris that is a source of food and habitat for saproxylic species.

Intensive forestry in Tasmania is a much more recent phenomenon. The philosophy behind this study is that it is preferable to avoid the need for expensive or complicated management interventions where possible. To do this we need to understand these species and their relationships with the forest ecosystem and its management at an early stage.

The log-dwelling beetles that will be chosen for this study include species belonging to families that contain known susceptible species in Europe. A mixture of naturally rare and common species have been chosen, to assist with the following questions:

  • What traits make them this way?
  • Can we use an understanding of these traits to develop prescriptions or other ways of maintaining these species in the landscape?
  • Can conservation measures developed for rare species also cater for common ones?

Life history and habitat data collected in this study will provide a framework for a population viability analysis (PVA) to help address these questions. An anticipated outcome is the development of management prescriptions or other measures aimed at enabling log-dwelling species to persist in the forest landscape.

My supervisors are Dr Simon Grove (Forestry Tasmania), Dr Peter McQuillan (School of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania) and Dr Alastair Richardson (School of Zoology, University of Tasmania). My PhD research is funded by the CRC for Forestry and Forestry Tasmania.

My PhD studies contribute to the Trees in the Landscape research programme of the CRC for Forestry.

To browse other PhD projects available with the Trees in the Landscape Programme, click here