Image: Pxhere (Public Domain).
Original Published Date: 
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

A new ARC Discovery Project will examine the vulnerability of tropical plants to drought and insect attack in a large-scale field experiment. Drought is one of the most serious threats to the integrity of Australia’s forests and human landscapes, and a greater understanding of plant vulnerabilities to environmental and insect threats provoked by droughts, will improve our ability to manage ecosystems and hedge against these risks.

With funding of $395,000 over 4 years, Associate Professor Susan Laurance, a 2013 ARC Future Fellowship recipient, will lead a research group based at James Cook University to pioneer a new approach that focuses on the causes and stages of decline in plant health prior to death. This will enable the identification of the characteristics of plant species that make them more susceptible to drought and insect attack.

Expected outcomes of the project include an improved capacity to predict the function and composition of future forests, benefiting communities concerned with the direct and indirect effects of droughts in protected areas, forestry reserves and agriculture.

Photo credit: 

Image: Pxhere (Public Domain).