School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences - Research Publications

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    Correction for Nauer et al., Termite mounds mitigate half of termite methane emissions.
    Nauer, PA ; Hutley, LB ; Arndt, SK (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022-04-12)
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    Bridge to the future: Important lessons from 20 years of ecosystem observations made by the OzFlux network
    Beringer, J ; Moore, CE ; Cleverly, J ; Campbell, D ; Cleugh, H ; De Kauwe, MG ; Kirschbaum, MUF ; Griebel, A ; Grover, S ; Huete, A ; Hutley, LB ; Laubach, J ; Van Niel, T ; Arndt, SK ; Bennett, AC ; Cernusak, LA ; Eamus, D ; Ewenz, CM ; Goodrich, JP ; Jiang, M ; Hinko-Najera, N ; Isaac, P ; Hobeichi, S ; Knauer, J ; Koerber, GR ; Liddell, M ; Ma, X ; Macfarlane, C ; McHugh, ID ; Medlyn, BE ; Meyer, WS ; Norton, AJ ; Owens, J ; Pitman, A ; Pendall, E ; Prober, SM ; Ray, RL ; Restrepo-Coupe, N ; Rifai, SW ; Rowlings, D ; Schipper, L ; Silberstein, RP ; Teckentrup, L ; Thompson, SE ; Ukkola, AM ; Wall, A ; Wang, Y-P ; Wardlaw, TJ ; Woodgate, W (WILEY, 2022-03-22)
    In 2020, the Australian and New Zealand flux research and monitoring network, OzFlux, celebrated its 20th anniversary by reflecting on the lessons learned through two decades of ecosystem studies on global change biology. OzFlux is a network not only for ecosystem researchers, but also for those 'next users' of the knowledge, information and data that such networks provide. Here, we focus on eight lessons across topics of climate change and variability, disturbance and resilience, drought and heat stress and synergies with remote sensing and modelling. In distilling the key lessons learned, we also identify where further research is needed to fill knowledge gaps and improve the utility and relevance of the outputs from OzFlux. Extreme climate variability across Australia and New Zealand (droughts and flooding rains) provides a natural laboratory for a global understanding of ecosystems in this time of accelerating climate change. As evidence of worsening global fire risk emerges, the natural ability of these ecosystems to recover from disturbances, such as fire and cyclones, provides lessons on adaptation and resilience to disturbance. Drought and heatwaves are common occurrences across large parts of the region and can tip an ecosystem's carbon budget from a net CO2 sink to a net CO2 source. Despite such responses to stress, ecosystems at OzFlux sites show their resilience to climate variability by rapidly pivoting back to a strong carbon sink upon the return of favourable conditions. Located in under-represented areas, OzFlux data have the potential for reducing uncertainties in global remote sensing products, and these data provide several opportunities to develop new theories and improve our ecosystem models. The accumulated impacts of these lessons over the last 20 years highlights the value of long-term flux observations for natural and managed systems. A future vision for OzFlux includes ongoing and newly developed synergies with ecophysiologists, ecologists, geologists, remote sensors and modellers.
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    Riparian trees resprout regardless of timing and severity of disturbance by coppicing
    Fischer, S ; Greet, J ; Walsh, CJ ; Catford, JA ; Arndt, SK (Elsevier BV, 2022-03-01)
    Human modification of waterways has reduced flooding in many river systems, leading to the decline of riparian forests, which rely on flooding for their regeneration. Coppicing may help to promote the persistence of riparian trees by triggering resprouting and vegetative regeneration. The vigour of resprouting plants can vary with timing and height of coppicing and may depend on stored non-structural carbohydrate reserves like starch, the availability of which can vary seasonally. However, starch storage dynamics and the resprouting potential of broad-leafed evergreen riparian trees is not well understood. We coppiced two riparian tree species, Eucalyptus camphora and Melaleuca squarrosa, at two different times (autumn, spring) and at two different heights (0 cm and 90 cm). Over 52 weeks, we regularly quantified shoot growth and changes in the starch storage pool size, compared to uncoppiced control trees, in different tree organs (root and stem) and estimated the final shoot volume. The final shoot volume did not differ significantly between coppice treatments. Trees coppiced in autumn had a greater reliance on stored starch while they remained leafless (without shoots) over winter. Trees cut at 90 cm had more starch reserves due to remaining stems but also had higher biomass maintenance costs. Starch storage varied seasonally only in E. camphora, with starch concentrations in control trees increasing over winter and decreasing over summer. Although coppice timing and height affected use of stored starch, resprouting in our study species was not limited by starch availability - both species regenerated vegetatively to recover from physical disturbance. Thus, coppicing may be an efficient means to promote rejuvenation and persistence of tree species where site and tree condition are degraded and no longer support recruitment.
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    AusTraits, a curated plant trait database for the Australian flora
    Falster, D ; Gallagher, R ; Wenk, EH ; Wright, IJ ; Indiarto, D ; Andrew, SC ; Baxter, C ; Lawson, J ; Allen, S ; Fuchs, A ; Monro, A ; Kar, F ; Adams, MA ; Ahrens, CW ; Alfonzetti, M ; Angevin, T ; Apgaua, DMG ; Arndt, S ; Atkin, OK ; Atkinson, J ; Auld, T ; Baker, A ; von Balthazar, M ; Bean, A ; Blackman, CJ ; Bloomfeld, K ; Bowman, DMJS ; Bragg, J ; Brodribb, TJ ; Buckton, G ; Burrows, G ; Caldwell, E ; Camac, J ; Carpenter, R ; Catford, J ; Cawthray, GR ; Cernusak, LA ; Chandler, G ; Chapman, AR ; Cheal, D ; Cheesman, AW ; Chen, S-C ; Choat, B ; Clinton, B ; Clode, PL ; Coleman, H ; Cornwell, WK ; Cosgrove, M ; Crisp, M ; Cross, E ; Crous, KY ; Cunningham, S ; Curran, T ; Curtis, E ; Daws, M ; DeGabriel, JL ; Denton, MD ; Dong, N ; Du, P ; Duan, H ; Duncan, DH ; Duncan, RP ; Duretto, M ; Dwyer, JM ; Edwards, C ; Esperon-Rodriguez, M ; Evans, JR ; Everingham, SE ; Farrell, C ; Firn, J ; Fonseca, CR ; French, BJ ; Frood, D ; Funk, JL ; Geange, SR ; Ghannoum, O ; Gleason, SM ; Gosper, CR ; Gray, E ; Groom, PK ; Grootemaat, S ; Gross, C ; Guerin, G ; Guja, L ; Hahs, AK ; Harrison, MT ; Hayes, PE ; Henery, M ; Hochuli, D ; Howell, J ; Huang, G ; Hughes, L ; Huisman, J ; Ilic, J ; Jagdish, A ; Jin, D ; Jordan, G ; Jurado, E ; Kanowski, J ; Kasel, S ; Kellermann, J ; Kenny, B ; Kohout, M ; Kooyman, RM ; Kotowska, MM ; Lai, HR ; Laliberte, E ; Lambers, H ; Lamont, BB ; Lanfear, R ; van Langevelde, F ; Laughlin, DC ; Laugier-kitchener, B-A ; Laurance, S ; Lehmann, CER ; Leigh, A ; Leishman, MR ; Lenz, T ; Lepschi, B ; Lewis, JD ; Lim, F ; Liu, U ; Lord, J ; Lusk, CH ; Macinnis-Ng, C ; McPherson, H ; Magallon, S ; Manea, A ; Lopez-Martinez, A ; Mayfeld, M ; McCarthy, JK ; Meers, T ; van der Merwe, M ; Metcalfe, DJ ; Milberg, P ; Mokany, K ; Moles, AT ; Moore, BD ; Moore, N ; Morgan, JW ; Morris, W ; Muir, A ; Munroe, S ; Nicholson, A ; Nicolle, D ; Nicotra, AB ; Niinemets, U ; North, T ; O'Reilly-Nugent, A ; O'Sullivan, OS ; Oberle, B ; Onoda, Y ; Ooi, MKJ ; Osborne, CP ; Paczkowska, G ; Pekin, B ; Pereira, CG ; Pickering, C ; Pickup, M ; Pollock, LJ ; Poot, P ; Powell, JR ; Power, S ; Prentice, IC ; Prior, L ; Prober, SM ; Read, J ; Reynolds, V ; Richards, AE ; Richardson, B ; Roderick, ML ; Rosell, JA ; Rossetto, M ; Rye, B ; Rymer, PD ; Sams, M ; Sanson, G ; Sauquet, H ; Schmidt, S ; Schoenenberger, J ; Schulze, E-D ; Sendall, K ; Sinclair, S ; Smith, B ; Smith, R ; Soper, F ; Sparrow, B ; Standish, RJ ; Staples, TL ; Stephens, R ; Szota, C ; Taseski, G ; Tasker, E ; Thomas, F ; Tissue, DT ; Tjoelker, MG ; Tng, DYP ; de Tombeur, F ; Tomlinson, K ; Turner, NC ; Veneklaas, EJ ; Venn, S ; Vesk, P ; Vlasveld, C ; Vorontsova, MS ; Warren, CA ; Warwick, N ; Weerasinghe, LK ; Wells, J ; Westoby, M ; White, M ; Williams, NSG ; Wills, J ; Wilson, PG ; Yates, C ; Zanne, AE ; Zemunik, G ; Zieminska, K (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-09-30)
    We introduce the AusTraits database - a compilation of values of plant traits for taxa in the Australian flora (hereafter AusTraits). AusTraits synthesises data on 448 traits across 28,640 taxa from field campaigns, published literature, taxonomic monographs, and individual taxon descriptions. Traits vary in scope from physiological measures of performance (e.g. photosynthetic gas exchange, water-use efficiency) to morphological attributes (e.g. leaf area, seed mass, plant height) which link to aspects of ecological variation. AusTraits contains curated and harmonised individual- and species-level measurements coupled to, where available, contextual information on site properties and experimental conditions. This article provides information on version 3.0.2 of AusTraits which contains data for 997,808 trait-by-taxon combinations. We envision AusTraits as an ongoing collaborative initiative for easily archiving and sharing trait data, which also provides a template for other national or regional initiatives globally to fill persistent gaps in trait knowledge.
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    Concurrent Measurements of Soil and Ecosystem Respiration in a Mature Eucalypt Woodland: Advantages, Lessons, and Questions
    Renchon, AA ; Drake, JE ; Macdonald, CA ; Sihi, D ; Hinko-Najera, N ; Tjoelker, MG ; Arndt, SK ; Noh, NJ ; Davidson, E ; Pendall, E (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2021-03-01)
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    Trading Water for Carbon: Maintaining Photosynthesis at the Cost of Increased Water Loss During High Temperatures in a Temperate Forest
    Griebel, A ; Bennett, LT ; Metzen, D ; Pendall, E ; Lane, PNJ ; Arndt, SK (American Geophysical Union, 2020-01-01)
    Carbon and water fluxes are often assumed to be coupled as a result of stomatal regulation during dry conditions. However, recent observations evidenced increased transpiration rates during isolated heatwaves across a range of eucalypt species under experimental and natural conditions, with inconsistent effects on photosynthesis (ranging from increases to stark declines). To improve the empirical basis for understanding carbon and water fluxes in forests under hotter and drier climates, we measured the water use of dominant trees and ecosystem‐scale carbon and water exchange in a temperate eucalypt forest over three summer seasons. The forest maintained photosynthesis within 16% of baseline rates during hot and dry conditions, despite ~70% reductions in canopy conductance during a 5‐day heatwave. While carbon and water fluxes both decreased by 16% on exceptionally dry days, gross primary productivity only decreased by 5% during the hottest days and increased by 2% during the heatwave. However, evapotranspiration increased by 43% (hottest days) and 74% (heatwave), leading to ~40% variation in traditional water use efficiency (water use efficiency = gross primary productivity/evapotranspiration) across conditions and approximately two‐fold differences between traditional and underlying or intrinsic water use efficiency on the same days. Furthermore, the forest became a net source of carbon following a 137% increase in ecosystem respiration during the heatwave, highlighting that the potential for temperate eucalypt forests to act as net carbon sinks under hotter and drier climates will depend not only on the responses of photosynthesis to higher temperatures and changes in water availability, but also on the concomitant responses of ecosystem respiration.
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    Exploring the Potential of DSCOVR EPIC Data to Retrieve Clumping Index in Australian Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network Observing Sites
    Pisek, J ; Arndt, SK ; Erb, A ; Pendall, E ; Schaaf, C ; Wardlaw, TJ ; Woodgate, W ; Knyazikhin, Y (Frontiers Media SA, 2021-03-16)
    Vegetation foliage clumping significantly alters the radiation environment and affects vegetation growth as well as water, carbon cycles. The clumping index (CI) is useful in ecological and meteorological models because it provides new structural information in addition to the effective leaf area index. Previously generated CI maps using a diverse set of Earth Observation multi-angle datasets across a wide range of scales have all relied on the single approach of using the normalized difference hotspot and darkspot (NDHD) method. We explore an alternative approach to estimate CI from space using the unique observing configuration of the Deep Space Climate Observatory Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (DSCOVR EPIC) and associated products at 10 km resolution. The performance was evaluated with in situ measurements in five sites of the Australian Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network comprising a diverse range of canopy structure from short and sparse to dense and tall forest. The DSCOVR EPIC data can provide meaningful CI retrievals at the given spatial resolution. Independent but comparable CI retrievals obtained with a completely different sensor and new approach were encouraging for the general validity and compatibility of the foliage clumping information retrievals from space. We also assessed the spatial representativeness of the five TERN sites with respect to a particular point in time (field campaigns) for satellite retrieval validation. Our results improve our understanding of product uncertainty both in terms of the representativeness of the field data collected over the TERN sites and its relationship to Earth Observation data at different spatial resolutions.
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    Bark-dwelling methanotrophic bacteria decrease methane emissions from trees
    Jeffrey, LC ; Maher, DT ; Chiri, E ; Leung, PM ; Nauer, PA ; Arndt, SK ; Tait, DR ; Greening, C ; Johnston, SG (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2021-04-09)
    Tree stems are an important and unconstrained source of methane, yet it is uncertain whether internal microbial controls (i.e. methanotrophy) within tree bark may reduce methane emissions. Here we demonstrate that unique microbial communities dominated by methane-oxidising bacteria (MOB) dwell within bark of Melaleuca quinquenervia, a common, invasive and globally distributed lowland species. In laboratory incubations, methane-inoculated M. quinquenervia bark mediated methane consumption (up to 96.3 µmol m-2 bark d-1) and reveal distinct isotopic δ13C-CH4 enrichment characteristic of MOB. Molecular analysis indicates unique microbial communities reside within the bark, with MOB primarily from the genus Methylomonas comprising up to 25 % of the total microbial community. Methanotroph abundance was linearly correlated to methane uptake rates (R2 = 0.76, p = 0.006). Finally, field-based methane oxidation inhibition experiments demonstrate that bark-dwelling MOB reduce methane emissions by 36 ± 5 %. These multiple complementary lines of evidence indicate that bark-dwelling MOB represent a potentially significant methane sink, and an important frontier for further research.
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    Leaf Traits of Drought Tolerance for 37 Shrub Species Originating from a Moisture Gradient
    Xu, G-Q ; Arndt, SK ; Farrell, C (MDPI, 2020-06-01)
    Identifying the drought-tolerance traits of plant species originating from a moisture gradient will increase our understanding of the differences and similarities in plant drought tolerance. However, which traits can be used to evaluate drought tolerance remain an open question. Here, we conducted a common-garden experiment on 37 shrub species originating from desert to humid regions. The correlations between plant traits and the native environmental conditions were studied. Leaf sizes and Huber values were significantly correlated with most climate variables of the shrubs’ origins. The osmotic potentials at full turgor (π100), turgor loss point (ΨTLP), and midday leaf water potential (Ψmid) were significantly correlated with most climate variables of their origins. We proposed using leaf sizes, Huber values, and ΨTLP as predictors of drought tolerance across shrub species and shrub biomes. Statistically significant correlations were found between π100, ΨTLP, and specific leaf area (SLA). However, owing to the weak correlations between SLA and the climate variables of the shrubs origins and between Huber values and leaf size and turgor loss traits, it was difficult to integrate leaf morphological traits with physiological traits to find a simple way to accurately quantify drought-tolerance-related differences among these shrub species.
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    The Impacts of Drought Stress and Phytophthora cinnamomi Infection on Short-Term Water Relations in Two Year-Old Eucalyptus obliqua
    Umami, M ; Parker, LM ; Arndt, SK (MDPI, 2021-02-01)
    The effects of drought stress, Phytophthora cinnamomi infection and their interaction on water relations and growth were examined for 28 days on two year-old potted trees of Eucalyptus obliqua (L’Hér.). There were significant effects of drought stress on plant photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, biomass accumulation, plant water potential at turgor loss point and the bulk modulus of elasticity. E. obliqua was successfully infected but the trees showed only mild symptoms. Infection with P. cinnamomi led to a significant reduction in the root biomass and root-to-shoot ratio in well-watered and droughted plants but did not impact water relations. There was no observable cumulative effect of drought and P. cinnamomi infection. There are multiple potential reasons why P. cinnamomi infection did not lead to drought-like symptoms in E. obliqua, including short experimental duration, delayed infection symptoms, potential resistance of E. obliqua and a possible lower aggressiveness of the P. cinnamomi strain. Hence, our results indicate that P. cinnamomi infection will not always lead to immediate short-term symptoms, and that plants that are mildly symptomatic respond very similar to drought stress compared to non-infected trees.