Dan Metcalfe_Long-term monitoring of tropical rainforests of eastern Australia


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Dan Metcalfe_Long-term monitoring of tropical rainforests of eastern Australia

  1. 1. Long-term monitoring of tropicalrainforests of eastern AustraliaDJ Metcalfe, M Liddell, MG Bradford & PT Green
  2. 2. OverviewRainforests of eastern AustraliaHistory research in tropical rainforestsInsights: maintenance of diversity role of disturbance dynamics of vertebrate populations weeds and feral animalmanagementNew opportunitiesSummary Canopy crane; photo P. Byrnes
  3. 3. Rainforest in eastern Australiac. 0.2% of the Australian landmassSignificant biodiversityGondwanan heritageCulturally importantWorld Heritage status & impactsTourist drawcardClimate dependent Broad vegetation groups; Queensland Herbarium 2009
  4. 4. Past history and current statusExtensive clearance over past 100 years targeted clearanceMost now protected National Parks World Heritage legislation Vegetation Management Act (1992)Ongoing threats fragmentation weeds & feral animals Sugar cane, coastal lowlands climate change
  5. 5. Research historyLong history of research, but few long-term studiesConnell plots were established in 1964CSIRO permanent plots 1972-80Emphasis on understanding dynamicsof rainforest under natural conditions,including seed production, seedlingdynamics, tree growth and mortality Peter Green, Davies Creek plot
  6. 6. Research history (2)The Australian Canopy Crane wentinto operation in 1999 canopy invertebrate biology phenology plant physiology micrometeorology hydrology & nutrient cycling Canopy crane; photo P. Byrnes
  7. 7. Vertebrate studiesLarge number of single-speciesstudies, and short term studies oncommunitiesCentre for Tropical Biodiversity &Climate Change at James CookUniversity altitudinal & latitudinalsurveys since 1990sCSIRO monitoring of spectacled flyingfox and cassowary populations fromearly 2000s Southern cassowary
  8. 8. Maintenance of species diversityConceptual developments:Intermediate disturbance hypothesis (over 5,000citations) explaining how high diversity is maintainedin complex ecosystemsJanzen-Connell model relating predator-prey spatialrelationshipsCTFS plot network – 47 plots in 21 countries, 4.5million trees and 8,500 species.
  9. 9. Role of natural disturbancesPre-existing community and environmental data allowsimpacts of natural disturbances to be ascertained, andrecovery followed TCs Winifred, Rona, Justin, Larry, Monica and Yasi Phytophthora die-back episodes Drought Heat stress FireManagement responses informed and modified, e.g.cassowary feeding, weed control
  10. 10. Impacts on vertebratesMulti-year trends and impacts onvertebrate populations - flying fox movements tied tophenology and weather - upland arboreal mammalsaffected by increasing temperatures - cassowary movements andimpacts of cyclones Bennett’s tree-kangaroo; photo C. Nichols
  11. 11. Ecosystem servicesSpatial and temporal dynamics flowering and pollen release pollinator abundance fruit production carbon sequestration Black bean flowers
  12. 12. Invasive species managementEstablishment, proliferation andimpacts of invasive plant speciesEffects of cyclones, transportcorridors and fragmentation on weedthreatSpread, impacts and recovery frompathogens – chytrid fungus,Phytophthora, myrtle rust? Clidemia hirta flower
  13. 13. Climate change scenariosLong-term data has also been fundamentalto development of ecosystem responsescenarios to anticipated climate changeforest growth – faster, but increased mortality?forest distribution – fire and cyclones as drivers?vertebrate distribution – onwards and upwards?diseases – changes in vector distributions?invasive species – changed communities? TC Larry
  14. 14. New opportunitiesNational and international collaborations TERN, OzFlux, NEON, CTFS, TROBITNetworked data sharing Eco-Informatics, agency collaborationsInnovative data collection remote sensing, biosensors UAV IR photography
  15. 15. Closing comments1. Community resilience also means inertia to change• slow turnover rates, delayed response times, long recovery• short-term studies cannot identify such change• long-term monitoring required to achieve understanding2. Long-term local investment critical• opportunities for scientists to build careers in regions• long-term engagement with communities, agencies• long-perspective insights into community change
  16. 16. AcknowledgementsLTERN for the opportunity to collate data, opinions and aspirations.Funding sources which supported collection of the previously unpublished research datareported here included the Australian National University, James Cook University, LaTrobe University, University of Cambridge, University of California at Santa Barbara,CSIRO, the US National Science Foundation, the Australian Research Council, Earthwatch,Daintree Discovery Centre and the Queensland Premier’s Department.Australian Government funding has been made available through programs such as theCooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology & Management (CRC-TREM),the Rainforest CRC and the Marine & Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF).We also acknowledge the contributions of David Hilbert, Joanne Isaac, Helen Murphy,Scott Parsons, Justin Welbergen, David Westcott, Steve Williams and Yvette Williams whoprovided unpublished data or interpretations for inclusion, and Cassandra Nichols andPeter Byrnes kindly agreed for us to use their images.A vast array of JCU, La Trobe, UQ and Griffith Uni staff and students, CSIRO staff andinnumerable volunteers assisted in data collection.