banksia attenuata honeybee a ritchieView image slideshow

Project title: Examining the reproductive functionality of restored Banksia woodlands

Dates: 2010 - 2015

Funding: Australian Research Council Linkage Grant, Rocla Quarry Products

Location: Banksia woodlands within the Perth metropolitan region

Research themes

  • connectivity
  • pollen dispersal, seed dispersal
  • plant mating system
  • plant-pollinator interactions
  • pollinator ecology

Project description

Few studies have evaluated restoration success; the goal of this research is to be one of the first to assess the restoration of functionality. Our data will provide a solid genetic basis for future restoration and conservation work to better understand the driving mechanisms behind mating systems, pollinator mutualisms, and how these are affected by anthropogenic disruption.

This study is based in the southwest of Western Australia, one of the most biologically diverse yet highly fragmented and disturbed landscapes worldwide. Only 30% of the Banksia woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain remain and the decline has been most marked in the last 20 years. Southwest Western Australia has the highest proportion of bird-pollinated native plants and pollinator diversity in the world and their importance for outcrossing and production of genetically robust outbred seed is well known. Predicting and managing the effects of human-induced habitat disturbance is particularly challenging for organisms that rely on interactions with other species for services such as pollination and dispersal, and there is increasing evidence that human disturbance negatively impacts plant–pollinator interactions. The implications of these interactions for restoration success are yet to be fully investigated.

The main objective of this research is to conduct genetic and ecological assessments of restoration success, by assessing population levels of genetic diversity, structure, mating patterns, connectivity and delivery and diversity of pollinator services of Banksia woodland species. In order to evaluate how well we are achieving ecological restoration, we examine how seed sourcing impacts the genetic diversity of a restored population, if the products of mating among individuals reflect that of undisturbed ecosystems, and how might these interactions affect the long-term viability and functionality of restored populations. These parameters are assessed and compared within restored populations and their offspring to natural remnants and undisturbed woodland populations.

Specific aims of the research are:

  1. Identification of genetic diversity structure and mating system parameters using microsatellites markers, in restored, natural fragmented and natural unfragmented (control) populations; 
  2. Assessment of the diversity and abundance of pollinators in restored and natural populations;
  3. Characterisation of pollen dispersal assessing the delivery of pollinator services within and between restored and natural populations through genetic paternity assignment and pollinator observations; and
  4. Assessment of the importance of adjacent natural fragments for the ecological restoration success of Banksia woodlands.

Key staff

Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Alison Ritchie, Dr Janet Anthony

Students

Alison Ritchie (PhD; UWA, 2015) Ecological and Genetic Indicators of Restoration Success. Supervisors: Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Elizabeth Sinclair, Dr Paul Neville, Prof Kingsley Dixon.

Karen Frick (Hons; 2012) An assessment of reproductive functionality in Banksia menziesii within a post-mining, heterogenous landscape. Supervisors: Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Alison Ritchie.

Jelena May (4th year project UWA BIOL4401, 2012) Are pollinator communities recovered in ecological restoration: and assessment in a Banksia woodland. Supervisors: Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Alison Ritchie.

Publications

Ritchie A (2014) A genetic assessment of ecological restoration success in Banksia attenuata. In: Bozzano M, Jalonen R, Thomas E, Boshier D, Gallo L, Cavers S, Bordacs S, Smith P and Loo J (eds). Genetic considerations in ecosystem restoration using native tree species. A thematic study for the State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy.

Frick KM, Ritchie AL and Krauss SL (2014) Field of Dreams: Restitution of pollinator services in restored bird-pollinated plant populations. Restoration Ecology, 22: 832-840.

Ritchie A, Krauss S, Neville P, Sinclair EA and Dixon K (2013) The birds, bees and Banksia mating trees: measuring the success of Banksia woodland restoration using genetic and ecological markers. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia. Vol 96, Part 1.

Ritchie AL and Krauss SL (2012) A genetic assessment of ecological restoration success in Banksia attenuata. Restoration Ecology, 20: 441–449.

Presentations

Ritchie AL, Krauss SL, Sinclair EA, Neville P and Dixon K (2014) Evaluating Banksia woodland restoration using genetic and ecological markers. Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA), Noumea, New Caledonia.

Ritchie AL (2013) Banksia woodland restoration; are we restoring ecological functionality? Western Australian Naturalists Club, Perth, Western Australia.

Ritchie AL (2012) The birds and the bees and the Banksia mating trees: measuring the success of Banksia woodland restoration using genetic and ecological markers. The Royal Society of Western Australia 14th Annual Postgraduate Symposium, Curtin, Western Australia.

Ritchie AL (2012) Measuring the success of banksia woodland restoration using ecological markers. Pollinators in Ecological Restoration Symposium, Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) Inaugural Conference, Perth, Western Australia.

Ritchie AL (2011) A genetic assessment of ecological restoration success in Banksia attenuata. Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) 4th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Merida, Mexico.

Krauss SL and Ritchie AL (2011) Reproductive functionality, paternity and pollen dispersal in restored Banksia populations. 18th International Botany Congress, Melbourne, Victoria.

Krauss SL and Ritchie AL (2010) A genetic assessment of an ecological restoration success. Ecological Society of Australia Annual Conference, Canberra, ACT.

Banksia menziesii with cone bearing multiple seed, which genetic analysis has shown contains very high multiple paternity. Photo: S. Krauss.High species diversity in post-sandmining rehabilitation at Rocla's Gnagara mine site. Photo: S. Krauss.

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