Ecology and catchments in a changing climate


Now is the time for bush regenerators to be investigating and experimenting with ways to adapt our practices to a changing climate according to Dr John Dwyer from the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Science.

On 24 November 2021, John gave a presentation entitled Ecology and Catchments in a Changing Climate to more than 60 members of SOWN and the public.

“I don’t have all the answers but I can raise a few questions,” he said.

John’s research team at UQ strives to understand the drivers of plant community composition and diversity in natural ecosystems. In the face of historical habitat clearance and ongoing climate change, the team is increasingly focusing on ecological restoration, and on trying to understand how plant species will respond to climate change.

During the presentation, John referred to research untaken by his team and other scientists in the field. See tools and references below.

John said the mean annual rainfall for South-East Queensland had been declining for the last 50 years.

“On current modelling, the best-case scenario is that Brisbane’s climate will be like Bundaberg or Gladstone in 50 years from now,” he said.

He said we need to consider issues like the genetic diversity of the plants we propagate and the provenance of the seed. Current research suggests there is no harm in going outside a catchment to collect seed if you check the science.

“The science suggests that up to 200 kilometres outside the catchment is okay for most species,” he said. John stressed the importance of getting seed from multiple sources and locations, warning against collecting from a single “paddock tree”.

John congratulated Brisbane City Council for planting local dry rainforest trees as street trees but said more of our local trees could be added to the plant list.

He encouraged bushcarers to start experimenting with different planting strategies  and is personally looking forward to collaborating with SOWN on exciting experiments in 2022.

SOWN committee member and the event organiser Renee McGlashan with speaker Dr John Dwyer, School of Biological Science, University of Queensland. PHOTO: Anne Jones

Tools and References