School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 234
Climate reverses directionality in the richness-abundance relationship across the World's main forest biomes.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2020-11-06)
More tree species can increase the carbon storage capacity of forests (here referred to as the more species hypothesis) through increased tree productivity and tree abundance resulting from complementarity, but they can also be the consequence of increased tree abundance through increased available energy (more individuals hypothesis). To test these two contrasting hypotheses, we analyse the most plausible pathways in the richness-abundance relationship and its stability along global climatic gradients. We show that positive effect of species richness on tree abundance only prevails in eight of the twenty-three forest regions considered in this study. In the other forest regions, any benefit from having more species is just as likely (9 regions) or even less likely (6 regions) than the effects of having more individuals. We demonstrate that diversity effects prevail in the most productive environments, and abundance effects become dominant towards the most limiting conditions. These findings can contribute to refining cost-effective mitigation strategies based on fostering carbon storage through increased tree diversity. Specifically, in less productive environments, mitigation measures should promote abundance of locally adapted and stress tolerant tree species instead of increasing species richness.
Global effects of non-native tree species on multiple ecosystem services
Non-native tree (NNT) species have been transported worldwide to create or enhance services that are fundamental for human well-being, such as timber provision, erosion control or ornamental value; yet NNTs can also produce undesired effects, such as fire proneness or pollen allergenicity. Despite the variety of effects that NNTs have on multiple ecosystem services, a global quantitative assessment of their costs and benefits is still lacking. Such information is critical for decision-making, management and sustainable exploitation of NNTs. We present here a global assessment of NNT effects on the three main categories of ecosystem services, including regulating (RES), provisioning (PES) and cultural services (CES), and on an ecosystem disservice (EDS), i.e. pollen allergenicity. By searching the scientific literature, country forestry reports, and social media, we compiled a global data set of 1683 case studies from over 125 NNT species, covering 44 countries, all continents but Antarctica, and seven biomes. Using different meta-analysis techniques, we found that, while NNTs increase most RES (e.g. climate regulation, soil erosion control, fertility and formation), they decrease PES (e.g. NNTs contribute less than native trees to global timber provision). Also, they have different effects on CES (e.g. increase aesthetic values but decrease scientific interest), and no effect on the EDS considered. NNT effects on each ecosystem (dis)service showed a strong context dependency, varying across NNT types, biomes and socio-economic conditions. For instance, some RES are increased more by NNTs able to fix atmospheric nitrogen, and when the ecosystem is located in low-latitude biomes; some CES are increased more by NNTs in less-wealthy countries or in countries with higher gross domestic products. The effects of NNTs on several ecosystem (dis)services exhibited some synergies (e.g. among soil fertility, soil formation and climate regulation or between aesthetic values and pollen allergenicity), but also trade-offs (e.g. between fire regulation and soil erosion control). Our analyses provide a quantitative understanding of the complex synergies, trade-offs and context dependencies involved for the effects of NNTs that is essential for attaining a sustained provision of ecosystem services.
How Are Scientists Using Social Media in the Workplace?
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2016-10-12)
Social media has created networked communication channels that facilitate interactions and allow information to proliferate within professional academic communities as well as in informal social circumstances. A significant contemporary discussion in the field of science communication is how scientists are using (or might use) social media to communicate their research. This includes the role of social media in facilitating the exchange of knowledge internally within and among scientific communities, as well as externally for outreach to engage the public. This study investigates how a surveyed sample of 587 scientists from a variety of academic disciplines, but predominantly the academic life sciences, use social media to communicate internally and externally. Our results demonstrate that while social media usage has yet to be widely adopted, scientists in a variety of disciplines use these platforms to exchange scientific knowledge, generally via either Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or blogs. Despite the low frequency of use, our work evidences that scientists perceive numerous potential advantages to using social media in the workplace. Our data provides a baseline from which to assess future trends in social media use within the science academy.
Roadkill mitigation is paved with good intentions: a critique of Fox et al. (2019)
(CSIRO PUBLISHING, 2020-01-01)
<jats:p> In a recent publication, Fox et al. (2019) described a three-year trial of a ‘virtual fence’ installed to reduce wildlife roadkills in north-eastern Tasmania. The authors reported a 50% reduction in total roadkills, concluding that the ‘virtual fence’ had the potential to substantially reduce roadkill rates. The field of roadkill mitigation has a long history of promising techniques that are ultimately found wanting, so we evaluated the conceptual basis of the ‘virtual fence’ and the design and analysis of the trial. Of the two stimuli emitted by the ‘virtual fence’, its lights only partly match the sensory capabilities of the target species, its sound frequency is suitable but the intensity is unknown, and both stimuli are artificial and lack biological significance, so will be prone to habituation once novelty wanes. The trial, conducted in three phases, revealed a total of eight methodological flaws ranging from imprecise measurements, confounding effects of treatments, low statistical power, violation of test assumptions and failure to consider habituation. Greater caution is needed in interpreting the findings of this study, and well designed, long-term trials are required to properly assess the ‘virtual fence’. </jats:p>
Building knowledge in urban agriculture: the challenges of local food production in Sao Paulo and Melbourne
Urban environments face multiple burdens and significant challenges related to food safety and sustainable agriculture. Urban agriculture remains fragmented and incipient in many cities worldwide. In their efforts to ensure sustainable urban food systems and provide public access to affordable and quality food, city governments must identify and pursue emerging opportunities. This study analyzed how São Paulo and Melbourne are working to overcome the related challenges.
Emissions of trace gases from Australian temperate forest fires: emission factors and dependence on modified combustion efficiency
(Copernicus Publications, 2018)
We characterised trace gas emissions from Australian temperate forest fires through a mixture of in situ open-path FTIR measurements spectroscopy and selective ion flow tube mass spectrometry (SIFT-MS) and White cell FTIR spectroscopy of grab samples. We report emission factors for a total of 25 trace gas species measured in smoke from nine prescribed fires. We find significant dependence on modified combustion efficiency (MCE) for some species, although regional differences indicate that the use of MCE as a proxy may be limited. We also find that the fire-integrated MCE values derived from our in situ on-the-ground open-path measurements are not significantly different from those reported for airborne measurements of smoke from fires in the same ecosystem. We then compare our average emission factors to those measured for fires in North American temperate ecosystems and for fires in Australian savanna and find that, although emission factors of some species agree within 20 %, others differ by a factor of 2 or more. This indicates that the use of ecosystem-specific emission factors is warranted for applications involving emissions from Australian forest fires.
The Cytoskeleton and Its Role in Determining Cellulose Microfibril Angle in Secondary Cell Walls of Woody Tree Species
Recent advances in our understanding of the molecular control of secondary cell wall (SCW) formation have shed light on molecular mechanisms that underpin domestication traits related to wood formation. One such trait is the cellulose microfibril angle (MFA), an important wood quality determinant that varies along tree developmental phases and in response to gravitational stimulus. The cytoskeleton, mainly composed of microtubules and actin filaments, collectively contribute to plant growth and development by participating in several cellular processes, including cellulose deposition. Studies in Arabidopsis have significantly aided our understanding of the roles of microtubules in xylem cell development during which correct SCW deposition and patterning are essential to provide structural support and allow for water transport. In contrast, studies relating to SCW formation in xylary elements performed in woody trees remain elusive. In combination, the data reviewed here suggest that the cytoskeleton plays important roles in determining the exact sites of cellulose deposition, overall SCW patterning and more specifically, the alignment and orientation of cellulose microfibrils. By relating the reviewed evidence to the process of wood formation, we present a model of microtubule participation in determining MFA in woody trees forming reaction wood (RW).
Balancing fire risk and human thermal comfort in fire-prone urban landscapes
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-12-27)
Vegetation in urban areas provides many essential ecosystem services. These services may be indirect, such as carbon sequestration and biological diversity, or direct, including microclimate regulation and cultural values. As the global population is becoming ever more urbanized these services will be increasingly vital to the quality of life in urban areas. Due to the combined effects of shading and evapotranspiration, trees have the potential to cool urban microclimates and mitigate urban heat, reduce thermal discomfort and help to create comfortable outdoor spaces for people. Understory vegetation in the form of shrubs and grass layers are also increasingly recognized for the positive role they play in human aesthetics and supporting biodiversity. However, in fire-prone urban landscapes there are risks associated with having denser and more complex vegetation in public open spaces. We investigated the effects of plant selection and planting arrangement on fire risk and human thermal comfort using the Forest Flammability Model and Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET), to identify how planting arrangement can help balance the trade-offs between these risks and benefits. Our research demonstrated the importance of vertical separation of height strata and suggests that Clumped and Continuous planting arrangements are the most effective way of keeping complex vegetation in public open space to deliver the greatest human thermal comfort benefit while minimizing potential fire behaviour. This study provides an example of how existing research tools in multiple ecological fields can be combined to inform positive outcomes for people and nature in urban landscapes.
Genetic data and climate niche suitability models highlight the vulnerability of a functionally important plant species from south-eastern Australia
Habitat fragmentation imperils the persistence of many functionally important species, with climate change a new threat to local persistence due to climate niche mismatching. Predicting the evolutionary trajectory of species essential to ecosystem function under future climates is challenging but necessary for prioritizing conservation investments. We use a combination of population genetics and niche suitability models to assess the trajectory of a functionally important, but highly fragmented, plant species from south-eastern Australia (Banksia marginata, Proteaceae). We demonstrate significant genetic structuring among, and high level of relatedness within, fragmented remnant populations, highlighting imminent risks of inbreeding. Population simulations, controlling for effective population size (Ne), suggest that many remnant populations will suffer rapid declines in genetic diversity due to drift in the absence of intervention. Simulations were used to demonstrate how inbreeding and drift processes might be suppressed by assisted migration and population mixing approaches that enhance the size and connectivity of remnant populations. These analyses were complemented by niche suitability models that predicted substantial reductions of suitable habitat by 2080; ~30% of the current distribution of the species climate niche overlaps with the projected distribution of the species climate niche in the geographic region by the 2080s. Our study highlights the importance of conserving remnant populations and establishing new populations in areas likely to support B. marginata in the future, and adopting seed sourcing strategies that can help populations overcome the risks of inbreeding and maladaptation. We also argue that ecological replacement of B. marginata using climatically suited plant species might be needed in the future to maintain ecosystem processes where B. marginata cannot persist. We recommend the need for progressive revegetation policies and practices to prevent further deterioration of species such as B. marginata and the ecosystems they support.
Identification, prevalence and pathogenicity of Colletotrichum species causing anthracnose of Capsicum annuum in Asia
Anthracnose of chili (Capsicum spp.) causes major production losses throughout Asia where chili plants are grown. A total of 260 Colletotrichum isolates, associated with necrotic lesions of chili leaves and fruit were collected from chili producing areas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Taiwan. Colletotrichum truncatum was the most commonly isolated species from infected chili fruit and was readily identified by its falcate spores and abundant setae in the necrotic lesions. The other isolates consisted of straight conidia (cylindrical and fusiform) which were difficult to differentiate to species based on morphological characters. Taxonomic analysis of these straight conidia isolates based on multi-gene phylogenetic analyses (ITS, gapdh, chs-1, act, tub2, his3, ApMat, gs) revealed a further seven known Colletotrichum species, C. endophyticum, C. fructicola, C. karsti, C. plurivorum, C. scovillei, C. siamense and C. tropicale. In addition, three novel species are also described as C. javanense, C. makassarense and C. tainanense, associated with anthracnose of chili fruit in West Java (Indonesia); Makassar, South Sulawesi (Indonesia); and Tainan (Taiwan), respectively. Colletotrichum siamense is reported for the first time causing anthracnose of Capsicum annuum in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. This is also the first report of C. fructicola causing anthracnose of chili in Taiwan and Thailand and C. plurivorum in Malaysia and Thailand. Of the species with straight conidia, C. scovillei (acutatum complex), was the most prevalent throughout the surveyed countries, except for Sri Lanka from where this species was not isolated. Colletotrichum siamense (gloeosporioides complex) was also common in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Pathogenicity tests on chili fruit showed that C. javanense and C. scovillei were highly aggressive, especially when inoculated on non-wounded fruit, compared to all other species. The existence of new, highly aggressive exotic species, such as C. javanense, poses a biosecurity risk to production in countries which do not have adequate quarantine regulations to restrict the entry of exotic pathogens.
Comparative genome analysis indicates high evolutionary potential of pathogenicity genes in Colletotrichum tanaceti
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-05-31)
Colletotrichum tanaceti is an emerging foliar fungal pathogen of commercially grown pyrethrum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium). Despite being reported consistently from field surveys in Australia, the molecular basis of pathogenicity of C. tanaceti on pyrethrum is unknown. Herein, the genome of C. tanaceti (isolate BRIP57314) was assembled de novo and annotated using transcriptomic evidence. The inferred putative pathogenicity gene suite of C. tanaceti comprised a large array of genes encoding secreted effectors, proteases, CAZymes and secondary metabolites. Comparative analysis of its putative pathogenicity gene profiles with those of closely related species suggested that C. tanaceti likely has additional hosts to pyrethrum. The genome of C. tanaceti had a high repeat content and repetitive elements were located significantly closer to genes inferred to influence pathogenicity than other genes. These repeats are likely to have accelerated mutational and transposition rates in the genome, resulting in a rapid evolution of certain CAZyme families in this species. The C. tanaceti genome showed strong signals of Repeat Induced Point (RIP) mutation which likely caused its bipartite nature consisting of distinct gene-sparse, repeat and A-T rich regions. Pathogenicity genes within these RIP affected regions were likely to have a higher evolutionary rate than the rest of the genome. This "two-speed" genome phenomenon in certain Colletotrichum spp. was hypothesized to have caused the clustering of species based on the pathogenicity genes, to deviate from taxonomic relationships. The large repertoire of pathogenicity factors that potentially evolve rapidly due to the plasticity of the genome, indicated that C. tanaceti has a high evolutionary potential. Therefore, C. tanaceti poses a high-risk to the pyrethrum industry. Knowledge of the evolution and diversity of the putative pathogenicity genes will facilitate future research in disease management of C. tanaceti and other Colletotrichum spp.
Greening Blocks: A Conceptual Typology of Practical Design Interventions to Integrate Health and Climate Resilience Co-Benefits.
(MDPI AG, 2019-11-01)
It is increasingly evident that exposure to green landscape elements benefits human health. Urban green space in cities is also recognized as a crucial adaptation response to changes in climate and its subsequent effects. The exploration of conceptual and practical intersections between human health, green spaces, and climate action is needed. Evidence-based guidance is needed for stakeholders, practitioners, designers, and citizens in order to assess and manage urban green spaces that maximize co-benefits for both human health and climate resilience. This paper proposes interventions that provide strategic green space enhancement at the neighborhood and block scale. We propose eight tangible green space interventions and associated metrics to integrate climate resilience and population health co-benefits into urban green space design and planning: View from within, Plant entrances, Bring nature nearby, Retain the mature, Generate diversity, Create refuge, Connect experiences, and Optimize green infrastructure. These interventions represent a hierarchy of functional design concepts that respond to experiential qualities and physical/psychological dimensions of health, and which enhance resilience at a range of social scales from the individual to the neighborhood. The interventions also reveal additional research needs in green space design, particularly in neighborhood-level contexts.