8.02.00 - Forest biodiversity
This Research Group aims to determine how forest biodiversity is influenced by anthropogenic and natural disturbance and explore the relationship between forest biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and resilience in the context of sustainable forest management. The world is faced with an unprecedented loss of biodiversity, mainly due to human activities. Natural and planted forests offer a wide array of habitats for plants, animals and micro-organisms, collectively representing the majority of terrestrial biodiversity. However, this biodiversity is rapidly being lost due to deforestation, fragmentation and degradation of forests. While the dramatic extinction rate of forest species is undoubtedly an important conservation concern, there is a potentially equally dramatic degradation of forest ecosystem properties and functioning, and so it is vital that the impacts on the biodiversity that underpins these processes are explored and mitigated.
In recent years there have been significant advances in the understanding of how natural and anthropogenic disturbances can impact certain components of forest biodiversity. For instance, we broadly understand how large scale harvesting techniques affect a range of biota and we have begun to explore various strategies to mitigate loss of forest associated species, such as variable retention harvest or continuous cover forestry. However, there are still significant knowledge gaps across the field, for example, across a range of lesser studied forest components (e.g. canopies), biomes (e.g. tropical), taxon groups (e.g. soil fauna, bacteria). We also lack basic understanding of how diversity of even the more commonly studied components underpins ecosystem processes and functions, how disturbance affects these, and how this in turn affects important ecosystem services. This sub-division aims to address this knowledge gap by bringing together researchers and stakeholders from across the globe to discuss current thinking and pursue new research directions aiming to maintain and enhance forest biodiversity.