Addressing drivers of dieback in an endangered tree species, persoonia hirsuta (hairy geebung)
Persoonia hirsuta (Proteaceae) is a Critically Endangered shrub species known only to the Sydney Basin region of New South Wales. Presently, P. hirsuta is experiencing population decline across its range due to threats of urban development, low seedling recruitment, and observed dieback both in situ (under sterile or optimum conditions), and ex situ by an unknown cause. Understanding what drives dieback in this species, and limits new seedling recruitment is critical for the effective conservation and management of this critically endangered, iconic member of the Australian landscape.
The main objectives for my project are to explore the potential causes of dieback for P. hirsuta, and resolve any biological knowledge gaps for this species, with an aim to develop an understanding of the best factors to consider when implementing restoration, conservation, and management plans. A series of field, and laboratory methods have been proposed to elucidate the gaps in our current understanding of this species ecology, and the potential drivers of dieback. Additionally, a synthesis of all known information from the results of this research, and work prior has been proposed to culminate this project in the form of a species status assessment. By using a combination of different ecological lenses to address the gaps in our current knowledge for this species, I hope to contribute valuable information towards the practical conservation and management of this species, and develop a holistic, novel approach to conservation biology that can be used for other species of conservation concern.
A/Professor Jeff Powell, Dr Paul Rymer, Dr Nathan Emery (The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney)