The Wet Tropics Learning Landscape eBulletin aims to share and apply our knowledge of this exceptional part of the world. This third edition reports on some of the rainforest research undertaken as part of the National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and highlights management challenges and opportunities facing the region. We hope that you enjoy it and we welcome your feedback.
Measuring a tree
Photographer: Dan Metcalfe, CSIRO
Restoring rainforests naturally - when le$$ is more
Carla Catterall at a kickstart trial site
Photographer: Campbell Clarke
Restoring forests on cleared lands is a global conservation priority. Professor Carla Catterall from Griffith University and Dr Luke Shoo from the University of Queensland have been investigating different rainforest restoration methods in the Wet Tropics as part of a NERP project. Their research is highlighting the need for strategic approaches to restoration to maximise ecological and financial returns
Resilience is vital for vulnerable rainforest fauna
The biodiversity of the Wet Tropics is in serious trouble. A NERP project led by Professor Steve Williams from James Cook University has found that Wet Tropics fauna is likely already experiencing the effects of climate change. For the first time, long term, field based evidence is showing that bird and mammal species are already in decline and on the move, seeking refuge in higher, cooler mountain environs. Regional endemics appear most at risk.
Photographer: Adam McKeown (CSIRO images)
Rainforest at risk
Little is known about the genetic diversity of the rainforest species of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. A collaborative NERP project headed by Professor Darren Crayn from the Australian Tropical Herbarium is addressing this knowledge gap by analysing the deep genetic diversity of plants in the Wet Tropics. The research forecasts significant declines in suitable habitat and species richness for many endemic montane plant species.
Wind-sheared microphyll vine forest at Mount Lewis
Photographer: Steve Goosem
Counting cassowaries and urbanising bats
Dr David Westcott from the CSIRO is the project leader for a NERP project which monitors cassowary and flying-fox populations in the Wet Tropics. The cassowary research replicates the field survey employed by Crome and Moore for their seminal 1988 cassowary study, providing updated data on species abundance and distribution. The flying-fox project involves conducting monthly surveys of spectacled flying-fox populations in the Wet Tropics to determine size, distribution and trends in abundance.
Cassowary and palm seeds
Photographer: Liz Gallie
Fire in the forest
A research team headed by Dr Dan Metcalfe from the CSIRO has been studying the role of fire in three different plant communities in the Wet Tropics - littoral rainforest, Mabi forest and mahogany glider habitat. Initial results outline the benefits of using different fire regimes in managing different vegetation communities. The research highlights the need for empirical data to underpin fire management and policy decisions.