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Tall eucalypt forests of Australia : structure, pattern and process

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Buettel, JC ORCID: 0000-0001-6737-7468 2017 , 'Tall eucalypt forests of Australia : structure, pattern and process', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The use of observed patterns to infer underlying biotic and physical drivers of eco-evolutionary dynamics is a challenge for population, community and conservation ecology. This is because whilst an understanding of process is required to make useful predictions and test theory, it is static or progressive patterns that are most readily observed in ecological systems, especially at landscape scales. In this thesis, I report on the links between pattern and process, using spatially explicit plot-based information from 48, one hectare tall eucalypt forest communities, spanning the coastal zones of eastern, southern and western Australia. These data are the first to be established across a continental Australian forest system, and were analysed using a combination of point-pattern statistics, likelihood-based inference, structural equation modelling, and simulation modelling. I also developed two new methods for analysing landscape topography and mapping the spatial location of treefalls. Interdisciplinary collaborations, including with astrophysicists, underpinned the novelty of the research. I demonstrated that, at a local scale, climate was a strong predictor of non-eucalypt basal area and density, and eucalypt basal area (but not density), consistently explaining >40% of the deviance in these variables. While non-eucalypts thrived within narrower temperature ranges (indicating avoidance of temperature extremes), eucalypt density and basal area were higher in cold-dry conditions. Regional-to-continental-level analyses revealed that community diversity and carbon storage were decoupled in Australia, the former being driven largely by biogeographic factors and the latter by latitudinal gradients and evapotranspiration. This decoupling was not evident for the global forest biomes, supporting the assertion that Australia’s eucalypt forests are unique – in the context of the tall forest biome – in a global context. The findings from this thesis underpins, both theoretically and empirically, the fundamental processes influencing forest structure and function in the tall eucalypt forests of Australia. For management and conservation to be successful in today’s human-dominated ‘Anthropocene’, a thorough process-based understanding of the ecosystem in question is required. In the case of Australian tall eucalypt forests, I show how thinking outside-the-box, measuring treefall, engaging in interdisciplinary collaborations, and facilitating innovative solutions, are a productive way forward.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Buettel, JC
Keywords: Forests, dynamics, global change, interdisciplinary, ecology, spatial, plot
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 the author

Additional Information:

Chapter 5 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Buettel, J. C., Ondei, S., Brook, B. W., 2017. Look down to see what’s up: A systematic overview of treefall dynamics in forests, Forests 8(4), 123, 1-18. The article is copyright 2017 the authors and is published licensed to MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Chapter 7 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Buettel, J. C., Ondei, S., Brook, B. W., 2017. Missing the wood for the trees? New ideas on defining forests and forest degradation, Rethinking ecology, 1, 15-24. The article is copyright 2017 the authors and is published as an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Chapter 8 appears to be the equivalent of a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Landscape ecology. The final authenticated version is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-017-0598-4

Chapter 11 appears to be the equivalent of the peer reviewed version of the following article: Buettel, J. C., Brook, B. W., 2016. Egress! How technophilia can reinforce biophilia to improve ecological restoration, Restoration ecology, 24(6), 843-847, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/rec.12387. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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