The Big Wet regeneration pulse

Red Gum Seedlings

Red Gum seedlings regenerate after the Big Wet flood waters recede

In an earlier blog I asked, ‘What impact did the big wet of 2010-2011 have on native vegetation? Did heavy rains promote lots of regeneration in some areas, but not others? Or did nothing much happen at all?’ In response, many readers submitted lots of great observations from across south-east Australia.

I collated the observations of wetland and rivers and grasses, herbs and weeds in earlier posts. But what happened to trees and shrubs? Did the heavy rains trigger lots of regeneration or nothing much at all?  Initially I thought there’d be lots of regeneration in most places but, as it turned out, readers noted abundant regeneration in some areas but none in others. What caused these patterns? Read on to see what everybody found…. Continue reading

The Big Grass Years

Themeda 2

How did the Big Wet years of 2010-2011 affect your local vegetation? Many readers sent in their observations when I asked this question in an earlier blog. Last week I summarized all of the observations from wetlands and floodplains. In the post below I summarize observations about grasses, herbs and weeds from the ‘dry’ hills and plains. Continue reading

Top 20 Oz Ecology Blogs

At one of the first conferences that I attended, an elderly professor was asked, ‘at what stage in one’s career should a researcher begin to engage with the media and the public?’ His esteemed response went something like, ‘a career should be spent building one’s soapbox, before one even considers standing upon it’. Many in the audience quietly groaned. Years later I chuckled as another speaker proclaimed, ‘the world’s top research economists invariably discover ethics sometime after they retire’.

Fortunately, that old world has turned, and today’s up-and-coming ecologists are far, far better than their predecessors at communicating their research to the public. Nowadays, every researcher, young and old, can tell the world about their work through the internet. In this month’s blog, I’ve collated my favorite blogs by Australian ecologists into a Flipboard Magazine for you all to enjoy. Continue reading

From Ballarat with love: Great biodiversity videos

Norm cartoonNothing on TV this weekend? Then watch a biodiversity video, or perhaps eight of them!

Last month the University of Ballarat hosted the excellent Biodiversity Across The Borders conference. Videos of many of the talks have just been posted on the University’s video site.

The opening speaker, Professor David Lindenmayer, kick-started the day with a fantastic talk on ‘Effective ecosystem restoration and management’. David’s talk includes many new findings from his group’s research on woodland restoration, and the video is a definite ‘must see’. I gave a talk on ‘Natural regeneration: connecting regional Australia’. An earlier blog contained a different version of the talk which I taped at home. This live, conference video includes a Google Earth ‘fly-over’ tour and loads of bad jokes, which weren’t in the earlier version. Continue reading

Monitoring ecological change: a view from the streets

1 Street View Young Red ExoticImagine you live in the year 2063. You want to understand how the distribution of tree species changed in the past 50 years, to help you to assess the impacts of climate change.

What kind of data would you wish you had from 2013?

Let’s brain-storm a few ideas. I’m sure it’d be helpful if, back in 2013, people had recorded the distribution of plants along transects that criss-crossed the countryside, crossing the wet-to-dry climate gradient. This information would allow you to see which species expanded, contracted or migrated during the period, and how these changes related to changes in rainfall. Continue reading

Natural regeneration: connecting regional Australia


Want to re-connect fragmented landscapes? Where would you start? With natural regeneration of course.

Natural regeneration of native trees and shrubs is abundant in many regions, where it provides valuable habitat and linkages between patches of native vegetation. Last week I gave a talk at the Biodiversity Across The Borders conference in Ballarat in a session on landscape connectivity, on behalf of my co-authors Lisa Smallbone and Alison Matthews. Our talk covered four topics.

  1. Why do we get extensive natural regeneration in some regions?
  2. Where do we find lots of natural regeneration in Victoria?
  3. How valuable is natural regeneration for birds?
  4. How can we incorporate natural regeneration in connectivity planning?

If  you didn’t get to last week’s conference, you can now watch the video of the talk, courtesy of YouTube.

Continue reading