Decomposer Microbial Communities Shift from Native Eucalyptus Diversity to Pine-type Diversity in Eucalypt Forests Fragmented by Pine Plantations
The Wog Wog Fragmentation Experiment was started 29 years ago as a collaboration between CSIRO and NSW Forestry and is one of the longest running ecological experiments in the world. It was designed to study the effects of Pinus radiata plantations on patches of old-growth Eucalyptus forest in terms of overall health as well as plant and insect species diversity. Early work at the site showed that, in agreement with fragmentation ecology theory, predatory and generally rarer beetles decreased in eucalyptus fragments surrounded by the newly planted pines whereas decomposer and fungus-feeding beetle species increased. These types of edge-dependant effects penetrated at least 100m into remnant eucalyptus forest fragments.
Recently, there have been a number of new studies on diverse aspects of forest diversity and health at the site. This recent work has focused on understory plant diversity, long-term ground-dwelling beetle diversity and population dynamics, soil nutrient levels, soil bacterial and fungal diversity, skink and bird diversity, Eucalyptus growth and demographics, and understory light and temperature regimes. Andrew King’s presentation will focus on the interaction between soil microbial communities, altered soil carbon and nitrogen cycles, and an unexpected increase in Eucalypt growth in response to fragmentation.