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The impact of plant disease on guilds of mammals in Australian ecosystems

Armistead, R., Garkaklis, M.J., Hardy, G.E.St.J., Dell, B., Bowen, B., Wood, J., Gaskin, C., Lilith, M., Annett, K. and Wilson, B.A. (2003) The impact of plant disease on guilds of mammals in Australian ecosystems. In: 8th International Congress of Plant Pathology: Solving problems in the real world, (ICPP 2003), 2 - 7 February, Christchurch; New Zealand.


Phytophthora cinnamomi causes extensive damage to some Australian native forests and is a major concern for conservation. Disease impacts include: the mass collapse of susceptible species, substantial changes to vegetation and floristic characteristics, decreases in leaf litter and transpiration, an increase in sunlight reaching the soil, and the invasion of field-resistant plant species into diseased areas. Although the effect of P. cinnamomi on vegetation communities is well documented, similar studies measuring the response of small mammal populations to this disease is limited. A possible association between P cinnamomi and a reduction in the abundance and diversity of small mammals is proposed. Small mammals have vital roles in ecosystem processes and landscape development, and if they are absent from the landscape, ecosystem processes may be disrupted. To test this hypothesis a study was undertaken to assess the functional roles of small mammals through mycophagy, nectarivory and soil development in diseased and healthy ecosystems in SW Australia. The long-term acquisition of this data will be useful for setting conservation strategies for small mammal populations and ecosystem health.

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