NERP TE Project 3.2 - What is at risk? Identifying rainforest refugia and hotspots of plant genetic diversity in the Wet Tropics and Cape York Peninsula (JCU)

Project summary

Far North Queensland’s tropical rainforests are home to much of the remaining ancient Gondwanan flora. As a result, Queensland’s rainforests are incredibly rich in species and contain one of the most complete, intact and continuous records of flowering plant evolution. This project will map the genetic and phylogenetic diversity of northeast Queensland rainforest plants and fungi with a focus on the mountaintop species, which are regarded as among the most at risk from climate warming. The team will deliver a report on conservation priorities for this region based on the data produced during the life of the project.

Canopy of Leptospermum wooroonooran trees
Rainforests of NE Queensland
 

Why this research is needed

The plant species that occur in this region are relatively well documented, but the genetic diversity within these species is unknown. As genetic diversity contributes to resilience to environmental change, measuring this diversity and charting where in the landscape it is concentrated will provide a solid foundation for prioritising conservation efforts in northeast Queensland’s rainforests.

Research user focus

This project will facilitate rainforest conservation and management by local, state and Australian Government bodies, particularly Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA), Australian Natural Heritage Assessment Tool (ANHAT), Heritage Division, DSEWPaC, Terrain NRM, TERN-LTERN and others.

Outcomes

  • Production of phylogenetic diversity maps, enabling easy identification of areas harbouring large shares of earth’s evolutionary history
  • Assessment of genetic diversity of mountain-top flora enabling effective conservation 
  • Report on conservation priorities for the Wet Tropics based on genetic data
  • Publications describing new and/or revised species of plants and fungi.

Reports, Publications and News

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For more information see Project 3.2 'What is at risk? Identifying rainforest refugia and hotspots of plant genetic diversity in the Wet Tropics and Cape York Peninsula' on the NERP Tropical Ecosystems Hub site.

Photos

Datasets

Publication on
3 September 2014
This project will map the genetic and phylogenetic diversity of northeast Queensland rainforest plants and fungi with a focus on the mountaintop species, which are regarded as among the most at risk from climate warming. The project consists of two nested subprojects.