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Characteristics of drought-induced tree mortality and the activity of woodboring insects in the northern jarrah forest of Western Australia

Matusick, G., Ruthrof, K. and Hardy, G. (2011) Characteristics of drought-induced tree mortality and the activity of woodboring insects in the northern jarrah forest of Western Australia. In: XVIII International Botanical Congress IBC2011, 23 - 30 July, Melbourne, Australia.

Abstract

A persistent and long-term downturn in annual precipitation accentuated by an historic drought is thought to be the cause of a recent mass collapse of forest canopy species on multiple, key sites in the Northern Jarrah-dominated forest (approx. 10,500 km2). The patterns of mortality were characterized using data obtained from aerial sketch-mapping, aerial photography and geospatial databases. High levels of mortality were associated with shallow soils, which were determined by distance from outcropping granite. Eucalyptus marginata (jarrah), Corymbia calophylla (marri), Banksia grandis, and Allocasuarina fraseriana (she-oak) have been severely affected along with a host of understorey associates. The prominence of woodboring beetle larvae (Cerambycidae) feeding in the active sapwood and cambium of affected jarrah and marri suggests the potential for epicormic re-growth and survival is low. These observations are exceptional considering both jarrah and marri commonly prevent mass woodborer attacks even while sustaining extensive crown dieback. Given the exponential increase in woodborer populations and the possibility of continued tree mortality, the potential collateral effects on the jarrah forest will be discussed based on examples from native woodborer populations from Australia and around the world.

Publication Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: Centre of Excellence for Climate Change and Forest and Woodland Health
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/12060
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