SJ part of an international drought research project


Professor Mark Olson from UNAM, Mexico’s National University, visited Serpentine Jarrahdale on 28 November to carry out sampling of native tree species as part of an international drought research project. Professor Olson’s study is focussed on the link between moisture, temperature and vegetation height under climate change.

As outlined in the project proposal document “Plant hydraulics and vegetation height response to climate” (Olson, 2016), SW WA is an important piece in the puzzle


 “Understanding the global relationship between climate, whole plant size, and anatomical structure requires sampling that is as wide as possible, across plant phylogenetic, habitat, and climatic diversity. Sampling in Western Australia will provide crucial elements missing from current sampling.”

Seven native tree species were sampled on private and public land, with permission from the land managers. A small wedge was removed from the lower trunk area of three individuals of each species, and branch tips were also sampled. These samples were labelled and bagged and will be transported back to Mexico in ethanol for analysis, including of vessel size. The height of the trees were also measured as part of the data collection.

Mark met with officers from the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale, Vanessa Slater and Dr Penny Hollick, who also assisted with locating the suitable sampling sites, along with Kristy Gregory from Landcare SJ.

Mark was very interested in the Cockatube nest boxes and is taking back photos and information to his colleagues, which is very relevant for their native macaw bird due to its endangered status from loss of habitat trees, similar to the Black cockatoo species here.

Dr Penny Hollick and Vanessa Slater (Shire of SJ), Prof. Mark Olson and Francis Smit (LandcareSJ)

Dr Penny Hollick and Vanessa Slater (Shire of SJ), Prof. Mark Olson and Francis Smit (LandcareSJ)

Professor Olson was complementary of the Landcare program in Australia and enjoyed hearing about the projects that Landcare SJ and similar organisations run, especially with private landholders. He said that in all of his travels, it is the most profound and unique program linking research and knowledge to land managers on the ground.

Landcare SJ is glad to have made the acquaintance of Professor Olson, and to assist in a small way towards an international study of such relevance; we will be interested to read about the results in the near future.

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