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Declines in forest health at the landscape-scale in the changing climate of southwest Western Australia

Brouwers, N.C., Matusick, G., Ruthrof, K., Mercer, J., Evans, B., Lyons, T. and Hardy, G. (2011) Declines in forest health at the landscape-scale in the changing climate of southwest Western Australia. In: Ecological Society of Australia, 2011 Annual conference, 21 - 25 November, Hobart, Australia.


The southwest of Western Australia (SWWA), known for its high biodiversity, has experienced a decline in rainfall since the early 1960s and the projections are unanimous that this trend will continue. This trend together with the global increases in temperature and more frequent extreme weather events like drought is having an increasingly negative impact on the health of the diverse forest ecosystems in this region. This work presents evidence of the decline processes that are taking place in two forest ecosystems in SWWA. The first study presents work on the relationships between canopy health across the distribution of wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) and the observed changes in climate. The second study presents data on recent drought related mortality observed in the jarrah (E. marginata) forest. The studies indicate: (i) a declining trend in canopy health at the extremities of the climatic range of wandoo, related to the declines in annual rainfall and increased temperatures, and (ii) increased mortality in at least 1.6% (30,380 ha) of the jarrah forest due to the 2010/2011 drought episode. Both studies clearly indicate the impacts of climate change and the likely irreversible shifts in species composition for large parts of the forested areas in SWWA.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
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