Research Updates July 2016

Information needed!

Researchers from the UK and Australia have recently discovered a relationship that has lasted for 100 million years is at serious risk of ending, due to the effects of environmental and climate change. A species of spiny freshwater crayfish native to Australia and the tiny flatworms that depend on them are both at risk of extinction.  This supports a previous paper from US biologists who found that the chytrid fungus, believed to be responsible for amphibian deaths worldwide, also infects and kills crayfish.
Does anyone know of any research that links chytrid fungus infection to relict populations of Wet Tropics spiny freshwater crayfish (Euastacus spp.)? Please contact if you have any information.


Natural regeneration of tropical forests helps global climate mitigation and forest restoration

Climate scientists have long recognised the importance of forest conservation and forest regrowth in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration—capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. But the detailed information required to make accurate estimates of this potential has remained elusive.  In an article titled "Carbon sequestration potential of second-growth forest regeneration in the Latin American tropics," Robin Chazdon and her colleagues report a series of new findings.


Secondary tropical forests absorb carbon at higher rate than old-growth forests

Researchers find that regenerated tropical forests exhibit a high level of resilience and play a much larger role in sequestering carbon than previously thought.


Researchers find plants and animals in the tropics aren’t more colourful. For a few hundred years people, including biologists, have thought life is more vibrant in the tropics than plants and animals in more temperate environments and the poles. But ecologist Rhiannon Dalrymple is the first person to test this assumption. And her research shows we may have been wrong all along. Tropical species are not more colourful than plants and animals living further from the equator.



Carbon capture is substantial in secondary tropical forests

Climate change policies often overlook secondary forests but allowing natural regeneration would pay off big, and soon. A study published in Science Advances shows that when land is left to regrow after forests have been cleared, these secondary forests could play a substantial role in removing carbon from the air even without costly tree plantings or promotion of land abandonment.


Secondary tropical forests have been found to put on weight fast, and draw carbon dioxide from atmosphere.

Half of the world's tropical forests are secondary forests—forests that are growing back after being cut or logged. Authors compared the growth of secondary forests across Latin America and found that most, but not all, grow back very quickly and with high biomass resilience. As they put on weight, they pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at 11 times the uptake rate of old-growth forests. 


The role of animals in mitigating climate change has been found to vary across tropical forests.

Large animals play a key role in mitigating climate change in tropical forests across the world by spreading the seeds of large trees that have a high capacity to store carbon. This new researchsheds important light on the role seed dispersal by animals plays in mitigating climate change, and how this role can vary in tropical forests across the world.


Landscape scale regeneration fuelled by emissions reduction

Following the November 2015 Emissions Reduction Fund auction in Australia, approximately 4.6 million hectares of property has been registered to sequester carbon through restoration and conservation programs utilising regenerating native vegetation. This initiative has the potential to transform landscapes, local economies and attitudes towards native vegetation.


Forest find: trees trade carbon with each other  

Researchers have discovered that forest trees use carbon not only for themselves: they also trade large quantities of it with their neighbours. The extensive carbon trade among trees, even among different species, is conducted via symbiotic fungi in the soil.

Research Updates July 2016

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