The Forest Practices Authority

FPA Biodiversity research and monitoring

The FPA Biodiversity Program conducts research primarily on threatened or priority listed flora and fauna, and associated habitats. With the aim of improving management practices, research can include assessing the distribution and habitat requirements of different species or communities and determining the impact of harvesting operations on biodiversity. Recommended management actions are available to forest planners through the Threatened Fauna Adviser and Forest Botany Manual.

The Biodiversity Program also assesses whether management prescriptions are being implemented, and whether they are effective in achieving their objective. Work looking at the implementation of fauna guidelines and prescriptions started in 1998, and monitoring of prescriptions relating to threatened plant species commenced recently.

 Main research areas currently undertaken by the FPA Biodiversity program are:

Relevant Priority Research areas identified in the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement and subsequent reviews are:

  • development of biodiversity indicators for assessing ecologically sustainable forest management
  • reserve management and predictive models of species, communities and successional processes for major forest types
  • strategic information for private landowners to protect and maintain biodiversity
  • the effects of plantation establishment and management on biodiversity conservation, both within the plantations and in adjacent natural ecosystems
  • the effects of forest management on changes in biodiversity and other forest values
  • research to underpin requirements for Recovery Plans and Threat Abatement Plans and the development of the means to assess the effectiveness of such conservation plans
  • taxonomy, ecology and conservation management of poorly known species, whether common or rare
  • environmental impacts of fire regimes and ecological management of fire
  • landscape-level requirements for persistence of forest-dependent species, including predictive biological models for species and communities in different landscape mosaics, and population viability analyses of individual species
  • long-term ecological research on natural processes, the effects of forest management and climate change, and long-term monitoring at established sites
  • contribution of regrowth forests to landscape-level measures of biodiversity, including comparison of forests regrowing after logging and wildfire disturbance, the effect of thinning or fuel reduction, and the development of late-successional structures
  • contribution of plantation blocks to landscape-level measures of biodiversity, and the role of remnant native vegetation in plantation estates
  • impact of alternative silvicultural techniques on biodiversity, with special reference to mature forest habitat features
  • impact of forest management on flora and fauna of high conservation significance and their habitats, including value and management of retained habitat
  • development of a coordinated approach, tools and protocols for vegetation mapping, vegetation extent and vegetation condition assessment
  • improved systems for natural values and resource condition reporting
  • research to underpin management prescriptions for threatened species under the Forest Practices Code, and development of means to assess the effectiveness of such prescriptions.

 

Biodiversity Program research and monitoring: flora and fauna species of high conservation significance

 

Implementation of threatened fauna management prescriptions

Background
Management prescriptions for a range of threatened species are delivered through the FPA's Threatened Fauna Adviser. Projects are established to monitor the implementation of these management actions during both planning and implementation of a forest operation.
Aims
  1. To evaluate the planning and implementation of threatened species management prescriptions.
Methods
Implementation studies are generally divided into two parts: assessment of the application of processes and actions advised by specialists in forest practices plans and; assessment of implementation of the prescriptions in the operation areas. The studies involve a desktop assessment of planning, and field verification of planning and implementation.
Results to date
None currently available

Year started
1995
Primary investigator(s)

Mick Schofield, Sarah Munks, Amy Koch (FPA)

Matt Webb (TSS)

Publications
Munks, S, Richards, K, Meggs, J and Brereton, R 2004, 'The importance of adaptive management in off-reserve conservation for forest fauna: implementing, monitoring and upgrading of Swift Parrot Lathmus discolor conservation measures in Tasmania', In D Lunney (ed), Conservation of Australia's Forest Fauna (2nd edition), Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Mosman, NSW, pp. 688-698.
Status
Active

  

 Wedge-tailed eagle nest monitoring project 

Background
The Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi) is an endemic subspecies that has been listed as endangered both at the state and national levels. Wedge-tailed eagles are forest specialists. Breeding pairs establish and maintain multiple long-term nests in large old trees in the forested areas of Tasmania. Many of the areas in which eagle nests are found are available for production forestry. Eagles are known to be sensitive to disturbance at the nest site and management practices have been established to try and minimise the impact of harvesting operations on this endangered species.  The FPA is establishing a program to monitor the implementation of the wedge-tailed eagle technical note.
Aims
This monitoring will consider the planning and implementation of nest reserves and the planning for line-of-site management. The specific aims are:
  1. To establish long-term variation in breeding chronology.
  2. To explore the relationship between tree level characteristics and the success of a nest site.
  3. To establish rates at which nest sites are re-used.
  4. To explore the relationship between nest site productivity and habitat characteristics (including disturbance categories).
  5. To assess the sensitivity of breeding birds while on the nest site.
Methods

Nest productivity surveys (presence of a chick) are conducted from a fixed wing aircraft annually during the breeding season. A number of habitat variables (including site management) thought to influence nest site success are being estimated for each nest site and associated 'territory'. Observational studies of birds on the nest are also being established.

Results to date

We currently have seven years of data on the >100 nests that were selected for long-term monitoring (not all nests were surveyed each year due to variability in funding and ability to locate the nests from an aircraft). It is critical that we continue to monitor these nests in order to understand long-term patterns in nest use and habitat associations.

A university Honours project was also completed, which started examining eagle behaviour while on the nest.

Year started
2007
Primary investigator(s)

Jason Wiersma, Amy Koch, Sarah Munks (FPA)

Publications
Wedge-tailed eagle project reports

Eagle Nest Monitoring Project Year 1 2007-08

Eagle Nest Monitoring Project Year 1 2008-09

Wiersma, J & Koch, AJ 2012, 'Using surveys of nest characteristics to assess the breeding activity of the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle', Corella 36, 38-44.

Koch, AJ, Wiersma J and Munks, SA 2013, Wedge-tailed Eagle Nest Monitoring Project 2007-12: Nest site use, timing of breeding, and a review of the nesting habitat model, report to Roaring 40s, Threatened Species and Marine Section (DPIPWE), Forest Practices Authority Scientific Report.

O'Sullivan T 2014, 'Breeding behaviour and success of the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi), Honours Thesis, University of Tasmania.

 

Status

Active

 

The distribution and conservation management of threatened invertebrates

Background
The FPA have undertaken long term monitoring of the impact of forest practices on populations of threatened invertebrates i.e., Simsons stag beetle, the Mt Arthur burrowing crayfish and the Scottsdale burrowing crayfish.
Aims
  1. To assess the distribution and habitat requirements of threatened invertebrates
  2. To investigate the potential impacts of forest harvesting on several species of threatened invertebrates.
  3. To investigate the effectiveness of management prescriptions in forestry areas.
Methods
Several invertebrate monitoring methods have been used to obtain data on species distributions and densities. Methods including pitfall trapping and body-part counts in leaf litter are used to assess the densities of stag beetles whereas burrow counts over time have been used to investigate crayfish activity. In 2012 historic sites for Burgundy snails were re-surveyed. In 2013 historic keeled snail sites were re-surveyed.
Year started
1997
Primary investigator(s) Karen Richards, Phil Bell, Sarah Munks (FPA)
Publications

Wapstra, M, Richards, K, Munks, SA and Doran, NE 2006, 'Previously undescribed habitat of the Scottsdale burrowing crayfish Engaeus spinicaudatus (Decapoda: Parastacidae)', Tasmanian Naturalist 128: 26-36.

Richards, K 2005, 'Survey for Phrantela pupiformis (Hydrobiidae: Mollusca), a threatened species of aquatic snail, from streams near the proposed Maydena Hauler site', Report to Forestry Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania.  

Richards, K and Spencer, C 2005, 'A survey for the threatened Weldborough forest weevil (Enchymus sp. nov.: Curculinidae), on private property, NE Tasmania', Report to Forest Enterprises Australia. 

Richards, K 2004, 'Survey for Beddomeia capensis (Hydrobiidae: Mollusca), a threatened species of aquatic snail, Table Cape farm & Table Cape', Report to the Forest Practices Board, Hobart, Tasmania.  

Richards, K 2004, 'Survey for Beddomeia wiseae (Hydrobiidae: Mollusca), a threatened species of aquatic snail, Blizzards Ck and Allens Ck, Lileah', Report to Private Forest Reserve Program. 

Richards, K, Munks, SA, Spencer, C and Wapstra, M 2006, Monitoring the effectiveness of conservation measures for the broad-toothed stag beetle, Lissotes latidens, in south-east Tasmania, June 2006, Forest Practices Authority Scientific Report No 3, Forest Practices Authority, Hobart.

Meggs, J, Munks, S, Corkrey, R and Richards, K 2004, 'Development and evaluation of predictive habitat models to assist the conservation management of a threatened lucanid beetle, Hoplogonus simsoni, in northeast Tasmania', Biological Conservation 118: 501-511. 

Munks, S, Richards, K, Meggs, J, Wapstra, M and Corkrey, R 2004, 'Distribution, habitat and conservation of two threatened stag beetles, Hoplogonus bornemisszai and H. vanderschoori (Coleoptera: Lucanidae) in north-east Tasmania', Australian Zoologist 32: 586-596. 

Meggs, J and Munks SA 2003, 'Distribution, habitat characteristics and conservation requirements of a forest dependent threatened invertebrate Lissotes latidens (Coleoptera Lucanidae)', Journal of Insect Conservation 7: 137-153. 

Meggs, J, Munks, S and Corkrey, R 2003, 'The distribution and habitat characteristics of a threatened lucanid beetle, Hoplogonus simsoni in north-east Tasmania', Pacific Conservation Biology 9: 172-186. 

Mesibov, R, Bonham, KJ, Doran, N, Meggs, J, Munks, S, Otley, H and Richards, K 2002, 'Single-species sampling in Tasmania: An inefficient approach to invertebrate conservation', Invertebrate Systematics 16: 655-663. 

Richards, K 1999, 'Occurrence of Hoplogonus bornemisszai (Bornemisszas stag beetle) and H. vanderschoori (Vanderschoors stag beetle) in priority coupes, north-east Tasmania', A report to Forestry Tasmania and the Forest Practices Board.

Meggs, JM 1999, 'Broad-toothed stag beetle in SE Tasmania: distribution, habitat characteristics and conservation requirements', Report to the Forest Practices Board and Forestry Tasmania. 

Meggs, JM and Munks, SA 1999, 'Conservation management of three threatened species of stag beetle in production forests in Tasmania', Society for Conservation Biology, 12th Annual Meeting Proceedings. July 1998, Macquarie University, Sydney 

Meggs, JM 1998, Surveys for Lissotes latidens (broad-toothed stag beetle) in priority coupes on the Forestier and Tasman Peninsulas, a report to Forestry Tasmania and the Forest Practices Board. 

Doran, N and Richards, K 1996, 'Management requirements for rare and threatened burrowing crayfish in Tasmania', Report to the Tasmanian RFA Environment and Heritage Technical Committee.

 

Status
Active

 

Monitoring the effects of harvesting on threatened stag beetles

Background
A previous study used Generalised Linear Modelling coupled with GIS data to predict the occurrence of the Simsons stag beetle in habitat of different quality. The subsequent study involved surveys of coupes to examine the reliability of the prediction for low-priority habitat. Results of these studies were used to establish a long-term monitoring project to investigate the effects of forest harvesting methods on populations of Simsons stag beetle in areas of high priority habitat.
Aims
  1. To investigate the effects of forestry on a species of threatened stag beetle, Hoplogonus simsoni (Simsons stag beetle).
  2. To investigate the recovery rate of Simsons stag beetle following CBS and partial harvest forestry operations.
Methods
Fortnightly live-pitfall trapping was employed over a two month period encompassing the most active period of the adult beetles. Pitfall trapping was conducted for a period of five years pre-harvest and five years post-harvest. 
Results to date
None available
Year started
1997
Primary investigator(s)
Karen Richards, Jeff Meggs, Chris Spencer, Sarah Munks (FPA)
Publications None available
Status
Active

 

Grey goshawk, Accipter novaehollandaie

Background
The grey goshawk is listed as rare in Tasmania due to low and declining numbers. Less than 20% of the optimal breeding habitat of grey goshawks in reserved.  There are less than 110 breeding pairs in Tasmania with persecution and loss of habitat being the two major processes identified as threatening the long-term survival of this bird. Little is known of the foraging habitat requirements of the species.
Aims
  1. To examine the foraging habitat requirements of the grey goshawk in NW Tasmania.
Methods
The study was carried out in NW Tasmania. Adult pairs were radio-tracked in each study area. Foraging locations were determined from the time spent in a particular area. A range of habitat variables were collected.
Results to date
None available
Year started
1998
Primary investigator(s)
Sarah Munks (FPA), Simon Plowright (Wildspot), Nick Mooney (DPIPWE)
Publications None available
Status
Active

 

Ben Lomond leek-orchid, Prasophyllum stellatum

Background
Prasophyllum stellatum is an Endangered forest-dependent leek-orchid. The present study was prompted by the need for more information on the distribution and habitat preferences of this species for developing appropriate forestry management advice.
Aims
  1. Determine the distribution and habitat requirements of Prasophyllum stellatum;
  2. Determine the potential and actual threats presented by forestry practices to Prasophyllum stellatum; and
  3. Re-assess the conservation status of Prasophyllum stellatum, based on the broader knowledge of the species.
Methods
Surveys were undertaken for Prasophyllum stellatum in the northeast and central north of Tasmania.
Results to date
This species occurs at moderate elevations on Jurassic dolerite in a wide successional range of moist eucalypt forests dominated by Eucalyptus delegatensis. The species has a patchy distribution within its range and occurs in low numbers. The species was detected from a range of forest ages including relatively undisturbed mature forest through to forests regenerating from both selective logging and clearfelling in the 1970s and 1980s. While the conservation status of endangered is warranted due to its restricted distribution and low population numbers, carefully managed forestry activities that exclude key sites, minimise intensive ground disturbance and maintain some canopy and understory structure are consistent with the conservation of this species, and may be beneficial in maintaining its habitat.
Year started
2008
Primary investigator(s) Tim Leaman, Nina Roberts (FPA)
Publications
Wapstra, M, Roberts, N, Larcombe, M & Leaman, T 2011, Distribution, habitat characteristics and conservation management of Prasophyllum stellatum (Ben Lomond leek-orchid), a forest-dependent threatened species,Tasforests, 19, pp 28-41.
Status
Completed

 

 

Biodiversity Program research and monitoring: stream biodiversity

 

Relating forest management to stream ecosystem condition in middle and
lower catchment reaches in Tasmania

Background

This project investigates the degree to which forestry operations in upper catchment areas have downstream effects on stream biota and channel/sediments. It also draws together the results from other projects, in this sub-program and previous work, to develop a conceptual model of the responses of stream systems to forest management. This will enable the development of a decision support system relating planned forest management activities to stream ecosystem condition.

This project will cooperate with other projects to determine appropriate timing for surveys of stream biota to assess effects of harvesting/reestablishment and fuel reduction burning on stream health.

Aims


 

  1. Predict the impact of forest operations on water quality and stream health.
  2. Determine management strategies for sustainable water outcomes.
Methods
The project has two main components - a survey of stream condition along a disturbance gradient, and development of the conceptual model and decision support system. A set of mid-catchment stream sites selected to cover a range of intensity of disturbance will be monitored in the survey.
Results to date
We observed a shift related to forestry disturbance in macroinvertebrate community composition away from taxa typical of more 'depositional' headwater streams to a greater representation of taxa more characteristic of higher energy stream environments. The main correlates with biological change in the study streams were variables that described both the average age of forest operations in the catchment, and the time since logging commenced. We conclude that the time scales of recovery of instream biota will largely be commensurate with the temporal scales of recovery of the physical aspects of the stream system.
Year started
2006
Primary investigator(s) Sarah Munks (FPA), Peter Davies (Freshwater Systems)
Publications
Smith, BJ, Davies, PE, Munks, SA 2009, 'Changes in benthic macroinvertebrate communities in upper catchment streams across a gradient of catchment forest operation history', Forest Ecology and Management 257, 2166-2174.
Status
Active

 

Effect of harvesting on hydrobiid snails

Background
Three long-term monitoring projects have been established to determine the impacts of forest harvesting and plantation establishment on stream-dwelling molluscs. One project investigates the impacts of cable-harvesting on Phrantela spp, another monitors the population trends in Beddomeia spp within landscape-level Eucalyptus plantations, while the third looks at the effectiveness of current management actions on populations of Beddomeia spp in areas covered by the forest practices system.   
Aims
  1. To investigate the potential impacts of plantation, harvesting and rotations on several species of hydrobiids.
  2. To investigate the effectiveness of management prescriptions in forestry areas.
  3. To establish the population densities and population structure of four Beddomeia spp. in streams located in harvested and unharvested areas.
Methods
The FPA have a number of long-term monitoring sites established in the north-west, in State forest and on private property. Population abundance and composition are investigated at periodic intervals, from yearly sampling to longer-term (every five years). 
Results to date
See publications below
Year started
1999
Primary investigator(s) Karen Richards, Sarah Munks (FPA), Peter Davies (UTas)
Publications

Richards, K 2010, 'An ecological, morphological and molecular investigation of Beddomeia species (Gastropoda: Hydrobiidae) in Tasmania', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

Davies, P, Munks, S 2009, Wedge and Tyenna block hydrobiid snail study: pre-vs. Post-logging survey - progress report.

Status
Active

 

Recovery of headwater streams after logging

Background
Small headwater streams in forested catchments of Tasmania constitute as much as 70% of the drainage system. Conservation of headwater stream habitats in production forests is currently approached through application of the Forest Practices Code provisions for soil and water, and prescriptions for the management of habitat for threatened stream fauna.
Aims The overall aim was to assess in the short, medium and long term, the impact of clearfell, burn and sow silvicultural practices on headwater streams within coupes where standard Forest Practices Code provisions have been applied.
  1. Document any changes in stream habitat structure.
  2. Document any changes in key ecosystem processes.
  3. Document any changes in macroinvertebrate diversity and community structure.
Methods
Several exploratory and manipulative studies were conducted, including a broad-scale spatial survey of Class 4 streams before and 2-5 years after harvest in southern and northeastern forests in 2003; a broad-scale spatial survey of Class 4 streams before and up to 15 years after harvest in southern forests in 2004; inundation experiments in 2004/2005; and an in-depth seasonal study of natural variability at seven streams in the southern forests in 2004.
Results to date
Shortly after harvest and burning there is an increase in autotrophy, suggesting a lack of metabolic resistance to this type of disturbance. In the medium term, a sustained change in the metabolism of small headwater streams was observed and suggested a lack of metabolic resilience to forestry disturbance.
Year started
2003
Primary investigator(s)
Joanne Clapcott, Leon Barmuta, Ryan Burrows (UTas), Peter Davies (Freshwater Systems), John Gooderham (DPIPWE)
Sarah Munks, Peter McIntosh (FPA)
Publications

Clapcott, J, Gooderham, J, Barmuta, L, Davies, P, Munks, S and McIntosh, P 2008, Monitoring the effectiveness of Forest Practices Code headwater stream provisions in wet dolerite terrain at Warra, south-east Tasmania, Forest Practices Authority Scientific Report 7, Forest Practices Authority, Hobart.

Clapcott JE & Barmuta LA 2010. Metabolic patch dynamics in small headwater streams: exploring spatial and temporal variability in benthic processes. Freshwater Biology, 55, 806- 824.

Clapcott JE & Barmuta LA 2010. Forest clearance increases metabolism and organic matter processes in small headwater streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 29, 546-561.

Clapcott, Joanne Elizabeth (2007) The metabolic signature of small headwater streams: Natural variability and the response to forestry. PhD thesis. University of Tasmania.

Burrows RM, Magierowski RH, Fellman JB, Barmuta LA 2012. Woody debris input and function in old-growth and clear-felled headwater streams. Forest Ecology and Management 286, 73-80.

Burrows RM, Magierowski RH, Fellman JB, Clapcott JE, Munks SA, Roberts S, Davies PE, Barmuta LA 2014. Variation in stream organic matter processing among years and benthic habitats in response to forest clearfelling. Forest Ecology and Management 327, 136-147.

Burrows RM, Fellman JB, Magierowski RH, Barmuta LA 2013. Allochthonous dissolved organic matter controls bacterial carbon production in old-growth and clearfelled headwater streams. Freshwater Science 32, 821-836.

Burrows RM, Fellman JB, Magierowski RH, Barmuta LA 2013. Greater phosphorus uptake in forested headwater streams modified by clearfell forestry. Hydrobiologia 703, 1-14.

Status
Active

 

Biodiversity Program research and monitoring: treeferns

 

The manfern or soft treefern, Dicksonia antarctica, is a forest species of commercial interest and is harvested from approved logging coupes for sale in nurseries both locally and overseas. The FPA regulates the harvesting of this species in Tasmania through the sale of treefern tags. All treefern harvesting must be in accordance with Tasmania's Treefern Management Plan which is approved by the state and federal governments.
 

Treefern survival after intensive logging?

Aims

  1.  To examine the survival of treeferns after intensive logging.
  2.  To determine the effect of harvesting on the resource prior to operations.

Methods

Three coupes were chosen, each with a different silvicultural treatment (cable logged, ground based clearfell, burn and sow and aggregated retention). Between 30 and 40 permanent plots were established in each of the study coupes and Dicksonia within these plots were identified with fire-proof tags.

 

Results to date

Logging and regeneration treatments for two of the three study coupes were unfortunately highly atypical. This, along with the lack of replication, means there is limited scope for meaningful comparison of the effects of the different logging treatments. However the data from each coupe in this study provides an informative case study of the impacts of logging on Dicksonia.

 

Year started

2005

Primary investigator(s)

Simon Davies, Nina Roberts and Sarah Munks (FPA)

Publications

None currently

Status

Active

 

 

Biodiversity Program research and monitoring: tree hollows

Tree hollows are holes or cavities in trees that provide important shelter and breeding sites for many animals. There are eight bat species, five arboreal marsupials (possums), about 29 bird species and an unknown number of invertebrates that use hollows to varying degrees. Native hollow-using fauna are listed as priority species under the Regional Forest Agreement, and several species are listed as threatened. Seven of these hollow-using species are introduced, including serious pests such as the common starling. The main way in which hollow-bearing trees are specifically managed in the Forest Practices Code is through the retention of wildlife habitat clumps.  

 

What trees are most likely to contain hollows suitable for use by fauna?
Aims
  1. To examine the availability and use of tree hollows in wet and dry Eucalyptus obliqua forest in Tasmania.
Methods
Felled trees were searched for hollows and secondary evidence of use by fauna.
Results to date
28% of hollow-bearing trees examined showed evidence of use by vertebrate fauna. Trees most likely to be used had a number of visible hollows, were old, large in size and had dead branches in the canopy. Counting the number of hollows in standing trees was the best way to identify a tree that is likely to be used by fauna and this was particularly important for younger and healthier trees. The minimum size for hollow-bearing trees was slightly larger in wet forest due to a difference in growth rate.
Year started
2003
Primary investigator(s) Amy Koch, Sarah Munks (FPA and UTas)
Publications

Koch, AJ, Munks, SA., Driscoll, D, 2008 'The use of hollow-bearing trees by vertebrate fauna in wet and dry Eucalyptus obliqua forest, Tasmania', Wildlife Research 35, 727-746.

Koch, AJ, Munks, SA, Driscoll, DA, Kirkpatrick, JB, 2008, 'Does hollow occurrence vary with forest type? A case study in wet and dry Eucalyptus obliqua forest', Forest Ecology and Management 255, 3938-3951.

Status
Completed

 


Availability of hollow-bearing trees in Tasmania

Aims
  1. To examine the potential availability of hollows in three dry forest types in south-eastern Tasmania.
Methods Ground-based surveys were carried out at 189 sites
Results to date Dry E. obliqua supported the highest number of potential hollow-bearing trees per hectare (28/ha) and the E. delegatensis forest the lowest (16/ha). The number of potential hollows per site was best explained by: vegetation type; topographic position; amount of dead trees on the ground; the age of the stand; the average total basal area of all trees; the height of the overstorey vegetation and various interactions between these variables and other variables, such as understorey cover.
Year started 2000
Primary investigator(s) Sarah Munks (FPA)
Publications Munks, S, Wapstra, M, Corkrey, R, Otley, H, Miller, G, Walker, B 2007, 'The occurrence of potential tree hollows in the dry eucalypt forests of south-eastern Tasmania', Australia, Australian Zoologist 34, 22-36.
Status
Completed

 

Are hollow-bearing trees retained as prescribed?

Aims
  1. To monitor the implementation of wildlife habitat clumps.
Methods This study is being carried out in ten dry forest areas that have been harvested. Control sites have been established for each harvested site.
Results to date In general, the current area and tree requirements were being met. The average size of clump found was 0.09 ha ± 0.05 (n = 29) and the majority of clumps (96%) contained 2-3 'habitat trees' and a number of regrowth trees. It was found that the way in which clumps were marked affected their quality. This study showed that the implementation of wildlife habitat clumps is being conducted on public land as per the prescriptions.
Year started 1999
Primary investigator(s) Sarah Munks, Anne Chuter, Amy Koch, Chris Spencer (FPA)
Publications Duhig, N, Munks, S, Wapstra, M, Taylor, R 2000, Mortality rates of retained habitat trees in state forest coupes: a long-term monitoring project - initial report, Forestry Tasmania and the Forest Practices Board, Hobart.
Status
Active

 

What is the mortality rate of retained hollow-bearing trees?

Aims
  1. To monitor the mortality of hollow-bearing trees retained in wildlife habitat clumps (WHCs).
Methods
This project is carried out in ten dry forest areas that have been harvested. Control sites have been established for each harvested site. The study sites were re-sampled between 2005 and 2007, and again in 2014.
Results to date
In 1999 96% of WHCs contained 2-3 'habitat trees' as per the Forest Practice Code. By 2007 this dropped to 52%, partially due to the increased senescence of the retained trees, an increase in the number of dead trees, and tree fall due to windthrow, firewood collection or by crushing from adjacent falling trees. This study showed that the mortality of trees retained in clumps can have a dramatic impact on the effectiveness of tree retention strategies.
Year started
1999
Primary investigator(s) Sarah Munks, Anne Chuter, Chris Spencer (FPA)
Publications
Duhig, N, Munks, S, Wapstra, M, Taylor, R 2000, Mortality rates of retained habitat trees in state forest coupes: a long-term monitoring project - initial report, Forestry Tasmania and the Forest Practices Board, Hobart.
Status
Active

 

Are retained hollow-bearing trees used by fauna?

Aims
  1. To examine the use of retained hollow-bearing trees by brushtail possums
Methods
Brushtail possums were radio-tracked in unharvested areas, a harvested area with young regeneration and a harvested area with older regeneration.
Results to date
Almost all den sites used by brushtail possums were in hollow-bearing trees. In a harvested coupe with little regeneration, denning occurred in areas of intact forest rather than in small patches within the harvested area. In older harvested areas that contained regenerating forest, the retained patches and trees were used by brushtail possums.
Year started
2007
Primary investigator(s) Sarah Munks, Lisa Cawthen (FPA and UTas)
Publications

Cawthen, L 2007, 'Den use by the brushtail possum in logged and unlogged dry forest in south-eastern Tasmania', Honours thesis, University of Tasmania.

Cawthen L, Munks SA 2011. The use of hollow-bearing trees retained in multi-aged regenerating production forest by the Tasmanian common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula fuliginosus), Wildlife Research 38, 687-695.

Status
Completed

 

Do retained hollow-bearing trees contribute to biodiversity within plantations?

Aims
  1. To examine the degree to which retained trees embedded in young eucalypt plantation provide habitat for birds, whether as a perching/foraging resource for all bird species or as a potential shelter/breeding site for hollow-using species
Methods
At five sites in northern Tasmania, four 20-min surveys were done on 214 trees (101 of these had visible hollows) over two breeding seasons (2007 and 2008).
Results to date
Birds were observed investigating 50 hollows on 36 trees. More than one hollow was used in 10 trees and hollow use was most strongly related to hollow abundance in a tree. High re-use of particular trees and hollows indicates that retained trees vary in the type and quality of habitat they provide for hollow-using birds. The most common hollow users observed were the common starling (Sturnus vulgaris) and the striated pardalote (Pardalotus striatus). Retaining trees in plantation areas, particularly trees with special features such as hollows, should be encouraged to provide habitat for birds and help contribute to the maintenance of bird diversity in an area.
Year started
2007
Primary investigator(s) Amy Koch, Sarah Munks, Chris Spencer (FPA)
Publications
Koch, AJ, Munks, SA, Spencer, C 2009, 'Bird use of native trees retained in young eucalypt plantations: species richness and use of hollows', Wildlife Research 36, 581-591.
Status
Active

Mapping hollow availability

Aims
  1. To examine whether remote estimates of mature crown cover and senescence from aerial photographs can be used to predict potential hollow availability.
Methods
Aerial photographs were used to remotely estimate mature crown cover and senescence in Tasmania, Australia. These estimates were tested against plot-based field assessments of actual occurrence of hollow-bearing trees in wet and dry forest.
Results to date
In dry forest, hollow-bearing tree densities were strongly related to the remote assessment of mature crown cover, with an 8% increase in variability explained if senescence was also included. In wet forest, mature crown cover alone was the best model. Assessing senescence was less important in dense wet forests than dry forest because trees take longer to form mature-shaped crowns and so mature-shaped crowns are more likely to have hollows. These results suggest that, with skilled photo-interpretation, aerial photographs can be useful for remotely assessing the relative density of hollow-bearing trees. This approach has the potential to greatly improve conservation planning for hollows and hollow-dependent fauna and has resulted in the Mature Habitat Availability Map for use by forest planners. Some further research is being done testing the accuracy of this map for predicting the availability of tree hollows in wet and dry eucalypt forest.
Year started
2008
Primary investigator(s) Amy Koch, Sarah Munks, Daniel Livingston (FPA)
Sue Baker (FT), Dejan Stojanovic (ANU)
Publications

Koch, AJ, Baker, S 2011, 'Using aerial photographs to remotely assess tree hollow availability', Biodiversity and Conservation 20, 1089-1101.

Stojanovic D, Koch AJ, Webb M, Cunningham R, Roshier D, Heinsohn R 2014, 'Validation of a landscape-scale planning tool for cavity-dependent wildlife', Austral Ecology 39, 579-586.

Status
Active

 

 

Techniques for monitoring hollow use by fauna

Aims
  1. To determine whether temperature dataloggers can be used to monitor hollow use by brushtail possums.
Methods
Temperature data loggers were deployed into tree hollows occupied by brushtail possums.
Results to date
Temperature dataloggers were found to detect temperature increases associated with the occupation of the tree hollow.  This study suggests that temperature dataloggers may be an effective means of monitoring tree hollow use by mammals.
Year started
2007
Primary investigator(s) Lisa Cawthen, Sarah Munks (FPA and UTas)
Publications

Cawthen, L, Munks, SA, Richardson, A, Nicol, SC 2009, 'The use of temperature loggers to monitor tree hollow use by mammals', Ecological Management and Restoration 10, 153-155.

Status
Completed

 

The effectiveness of wildlife habitat strips


Wildlife habitat strips are corridors of native (uncut) forest that are retained in production forest areas to help maintain vegetation composition and structure across landscape.

Aims
  1. To test the effectiveness of wildlife habitat strips.
Methods
Fifty-two long-term vegetation plots were established in wet eucalypt forest across areas that had been intensively logged. The plots were surveyed in 1993 (immediately after logging) and then again in 2005 for floristic composition of vascular flora and forest structure.
Results to date
Logged coupes were significantly different to control plots in both floristic and structural composition, particularly in the composition of late successional species. Wildlife habitat strips were not significantly different to control plots, although some edge effects were noted, such as a loss of species sensitive to edges effects (e.g. drying). The study suggests that wildlife habitat strips can fulfil a useful role in maintaining mature forest structure and composition, at least in the short-term, in landscapes subject to intensive forest management.
Year started
1993
Primary investigator(s)
Anne Chuter, Fred Duncan (FPA)
Michael Brown (Consultant), Simon Grove (FT)
Publications

None currently available

Status
Active

 

 

Research conducted by the FPA and other organisations has resulted in a CRC publication to help land managers understand the importance of managing hollows. Further details on publications arising from this research are available from the CRC for Forestry's web site.

Content last modified July 17, 2015, 4:28 pm