Theme 2 – Threats and Impacts

Impacts of fragmentation, degradation, weeds and threatening processes on tropical flora, such as exploring genetics and reproductive strategies of environmental weeds leading to improved control strategies, and exploring ecophysiology and quantitative genetics in understanding climate change impacts on the tropical flora.

Threatened Endemic Plants of Palau

Team

Craig Costion

Background

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund of Conservation International funded a project to work on the threatened endemic plants of Palau. A large scale assessment of the status of endemic plants was assessed by looking at the archaeological record in Palau for evidence of historic deforestation. In addition to this, five rare endemic species were inventoried in the field between 2011-2012 to estimate their population sizes. This data is contributing to assessment of their IUCN threatened status and/or status as valid endemic species.

Effects of climate change on the Wet Tropics mountain-top flora

Team

Craig Costion, Lalita Simpson, Petina Pert (CSIRO), Darren Crayn

Background

The mountains of the Wet Tropics and Cape York Peninsula represent cool islands in a sea of warmer (lowland) climates and harbour a very rich biota with high levels of endemism. The plants and fungi of these mountains are especially vulnerable to global warming as upward species’ range shifts leave them nowhere to go. This study aims to document centres of diversity for the endemics above 1,000 metres and to model the distribution and extent of suitable climates for these species under future climate change scenarios.

Creating a phylogenetic heat map of Australia's flora: A new measure to conserve biodiversity

Team

Andrew Thornhill, Joe Miller (CANBR), Darren Crayn, Craig Costion, Nunzio Knerr (CANBR), Carlos Gonzalez-Orozco (University of Canberra), Shawn Laffan (UNSW), Brent Mishler (UC Berkeley).

Background

Australia has 3,500 genera and 25,000 native plant species of which approximately 85% are endemic. A changing environment and the demand for resources will continue to increase with a growing population and knowing where to protect land will become more important. This project aims to advance our knowledge of the genetic spatial distribution of Australia's flora to improve conservation planning.