Many people know the story of the Pine beetle which has been devastating huge areas of forest across North America because of climate change. There is a similar scenario emerging in Australia’s mountain forests, although it is much less known.
Snow gums are experiencing dieback in Kosciuszko National Park, largely because of the impacts of the native longicorn (or ‘longhorn’) beetle. These beetles prefer to lay their eggs on moisture-stressed trees and, in warmer weather, the longicorn beetle can hatch and grow up to 75% faster.
On December 10, Dr Matthew Brookhouse, Project leader of the SOSnowgum program, will deliver a public online seminar on snow-gum dieback. The seminar will focus on recognition of dieback, the research being done into dieback, and a citizen-science program that is providing information on the spread of dieback.
For background into the dieback issue check these stories from Mountain Journal.
Dr Brookhouse has recently written an update on the SOS Snowgum program (published on the MONT website).
Writing on the MONT site, he says:
Very little is known about snow-gum dieback. We are working to understand why outbreaks of wood-borers are occurring and what can be done to protect the remaining forests. Our research is combining detailed field surveys, insect monitoring and experimentation, high-resolution tree monitoring, tree-ring based reconstructions of local dieback outbreaks and plant stress, with high-resolution satellite imagery to understand causes and progress of dieback.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The large area and rugged and complex terrain affected by snow-gum dieback means we need the community’s help. Attack by wood-borers leaves unmistakable signs, evident as horizontal galleries, in affected trees. We are asking that everyone who travels to the Australian Alps in the coming summer to become a citizen scientist by reporting observations of dieback using a simple web-based portal that can be found at www.saveoursnowgum.org.
The forum is hosted by the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University.
It will happen at 1pm, Thursday 10 Dec 2020.
In this talk, Dr Matthew Brookhouse will outline the current state of knowledge on snow-gum dieback. The talk will focus upon description of the unmistakable symptoms that distinguish dieback and introduce the candidate insect species currently linked to the phenomenon. Drawing upon a phenomenological perspective of forest dieback, the talk will explore current hypotheses on the ultimate drivers of snow-gum dieback. Matthew will also discuss current research activities aimed at understanding both the history and current trajectory of snow-gum dieback.