Research

Current Projects

Reversing the loss of Leadbeater’s Possum habitat: An integrated stand- and landscape-approach to accelerating habitat development Rapid loss of habitat threatens the Leadbeater’s possum with extinction before the end of this century. Our project aims to develop a range of stand-scale silvicultural prescriptions to accelerate the development of the key features of Leadbeater’s possum habitat: large, hollow-bearing trees and a relatively dense Acacia mid-storey. These will then inform landscape-scale management planning scenarios developed in conjunction with our partners, DEPI and VicForests, to identify spatially and temporally explicit strategies for modifying forest management practices in the key areas of Leadbeater’s possum habitat. The outcome will be an empirically based landscape-scale management plan to maximise the long-term viability of Leadbeater’s possum. (with Craig Nitschke, Andrew Robinson, James Todd (DELWP), Lindy Lumsden (DELWP), and Chela Powell (VF)) Funded by the Australian Research Council, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning, and VicForests

Climate- proofing southeastern Australia’s native forests: Where, when and how? Forests are a globally important natural resource, providing habitat for much of the world’s biodiversity, protecting watersheds, and sequestering carbon. Global climate change poses a serious threat to regeneration in natural forests because of the poor resilience of seedlings to climatic extremes. Warmer, drier conditions may limit the ability of tree species to regenerate in situ. This project represents an integrated program of field studies, palaeoclimatic reconstructions, statistical modelling, and scenario-based analyses to assess the influence of climate on forest regeneration under future climate scenarios and the potential for regeneration failure after logging, bushfires and land abandonment in southeastern Australia. Funded by the Australian Research Council

Reconstructing millennial–scale streamflow variability to assess near–future risks to water–generated renewable energy.   Uncertainty about streamflow variability in the past due to short observational records limits investment and planning for hydro-generated power. Using tree-ring records from long-lived Tasmanian conifers we will develop reconstructions of historical streamflow that extend the observed records by more than 500 years. The reconstructed streamflow record will allow more rigorous assessments of the frequency of extended periods of low and high flow to facilitate risk management in hydro-power generation. (with Ed Cook, Stuart Allie, Fiona Ling) Funded by the Australian Research Council and Hydro Tasmania

The divergence phenomenon in tree- ring-reconstructed temperatures: global problem or Northern Hemisphere anomaly? At several important high latitude Northern Hemisphere sites, tree-ring chronologies show evidence of a changing relationship between growth and temperature. Typically, as temperature has increased, growth has begun to plateau. In effect, the tree-ring chronology and the climate time series have begun to diverge from each other. To what degree this occurs in the Southern Hemisphere is unknown. We are in the process of updating several of the longest tree-ring chronologies in the Southern Hemisphere and conducting high-resolution growth monitoring studies to determine whether the divergence problem is affecting Southern Hemisphere tree-ring chronologies, and if so, why. (with Ed Cook, Jonathan Palmer, Ricardo Villalba) Funded by the Australian Research Council

Has Twentieth Century warming changed southeastern Australia’s fire regimes?  The observed changes in temperature and precipitation patterns over the past century should have a direct impact on fire occurrence in southeastern Australia. Our project attempts to put the occurrence of fire over the past century into a deeper historical context using high-resolution palaeocharcoal records and landscape-scale tree-ring studies. (with Scott Mooney) Funded by the Australian Research Council

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