Prof. Mike Lawes

My research interests include: (1) the community ecology and tree dynamics of tropical savannas and monsoon forests; (2) the causes of the decline of small mammals in north Australia; and (3) the ecology of feral cats and their interaction with other feral predators. I am especially interested in sprouting ecology and the role of the persistence niche in tropical savannas under climate change. In pursuance of the latter I am currently researching the effect of fire on tree dynamics in tropical savannas; in particular how bark thickness affects individual persistence and resprouting capacity after fire.

Prospective projects

  1. The effect of oil palm plantations on ecosystem services: insect pollination- click this link Oil Palm - pollination for more information
  2. The effect of oil palm plantations on ecosystem function: seed dispersal - click this link Oil Palm - seed dispersal for more information
  3. Resource allocation strategies in disturbance prone environments: sprouting behaviour, carbohydrate storage and the persistence niche- click this link Sprouting for more information
  4. Surviving fire: stem traits and evolutionary trade-offs - click this link stem survival for more information
  5. How fire kills trees: Understanding stem mortality to predict savanna resilience to fire and climate change
  6. Fire, phenology & diversity - click this link fire, phenology for more information
  7. Recruitment in tropical cypress-pine: Is Callitris intratropica a useful indicator of savanna health? - click this link Callitris for more information
  8. The carbon sequestration potential of mixed species tropical plantations - click this link Carbon sequestration for more information [ARC funded project - LP0989161: 'Identifying cost-effective reforestation approaches for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestrationin the Australian wet tropics]

Current projects

  1. Feral cat predation: a driver of small vertebrate decline in north Australia?[participant in ARC funded project - LP100100033: Mammal declines in northern Australia: science for conservation and recovery]
  2. Avoidance behaviours of Rattus tunneyi to introduced and native predators[MSc (MTEM) student: Marissa Skeels]
  3. The invasive potential of Rubberbush (Calotropis procera) in the northern Australia [PhD student: Enock Menge] - click this link Rubberbush for more information
  4. Ecology of Migratory Shorebirds on Darwin Harbour Mudflats [PhD student: Amanda Lilleyman]
  5. Gouldian Finches and Fire [PhD student: Anna Weier]
  6. Management of Feral Pigs and Buffalo in Kakadu National Park [PhD student: Stewart Pittard]
  7. Investigating the efficiency of reforestation approaches in restoring rainforest biodiversity and function. [PhD student: Mia Derhe]
  8. Rubberbush [Post-doctoral Research Fellow: Dr Eddie Webber]
Year Type Citation
2013 Book Chapter Lawes, M. J., Cords, M. & Lehn, C. Mammals of Africa. Volume II, Primates (Kingdon, J., Happold, D. & Butynski, T.) II, 354-362 (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013).
2013 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Taplin, P., Bellairs, S. M. & Franklin, D. C. Contrasting stand size effects on the reproductive biology of a declining tropical conifer Callitris intratropica. Plant Ecology 214, 169-174 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Carthew, S. M., Jones, K. M. W. & Lawes, M. J. Responses of small vertebrates to linear clearings in a South Australian woodland. Ecological Research (2013). doi:10.1007/s11284-013-1082-5
2013 Book Chapter Clarke, P. J. & Lawes, M. J. The balance of nature and human impact 63-74 (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
2013 Journal Article Fisher, D. O. et al. The current decline of tropical marsupials in Australia: is history repeating?. Global Ecology and BiogeographyGlobal Ecology and Biogeography online, (2013).
2013 Journal Article Preece, N. D., van Oosterzee, P. & Lawes, M. J. Planting methods matter for cost-effective rainforest restoration. Ecological Management & RestorationEcological Management & Restoration 14, 63-66 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Bradshaw, C. J. A. et al. Brave new green world - consequences of a carbon economy for the conservation of Australian biodiversity. Biological ConservationBiological Conservation 161, 79-90 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Clarke, P. J. et al. Resprouting as a key functional trait: how buds, protection and resources drive persistence after fire. New PhytologistNew Phytologist 197, 19-35 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Bird, M. I. et al. Humans, megafauna and environmental change in tropical Australia. Journal of Quaternary Science n/a - n/a (2013). doi:10.1002/jqs.2639
2013 Journal Article Adie, H., Rushworth, I. & Lawes, M. J. Pervasive, long-lasting impact of historical logging on composition, diversity and above ground carbon stocks in Afrotemperate forest. Forest Ecology and Management 310, 887 - 895 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Midgley, J. J. & Clarke, P. J. Costs and benefits of relative bark thickness in relation to fire damage: a savanna/forest contrast. Journal of EcologyJournal of Ecology 101, 517-524 (2013).
2013 Journal Article Murphy, B. P., Lehmann, C. E. R., Russell-Smith, J. & Lawes, M. J. Fire frequency and severity drive woody biomass dynamics in Australian savannas. Journal of BiogeographyJournal of Biogeography n/a, n/a-n/a (2013).
2013 Report Lilleyman, A., Lawes, M. J. & Garnett, S. T. Migratory Shorebirds in Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory. Report to the Department of Business, Northern Territory Government. (Charles Darwin University, 2013).
2012 Conference Paper Lilleyman, A., Franklin, D. C., Szabo, J. K. & Lawes, M. J. Run-Stop-Roost: The need for undisturbed high-tide roosts for migratory shorebirds. Society for Conservation Biology (2012).
2012 Conference Paper Havas, L., Latz, S., Lawes, M. J., Penna, C. & Race, D. Analysis of a residential rooftop photovoltaic trial in Alice Springs. Proceedings of the 50th Annual Conference of the Australian Solar Energy Society (Australian Solar Council, 2012).
2012 Journal Article Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Density effects of a dominant understory herb, Isoglossa woodii (Acanthaceae), on tree seedlings of a subtropical coastal dune forest. BiotropicaBiotropicaBiotropica 44, 163-170 (2012).
2012 Journal Article Nath, A. J., Franklin, D. C., Lawes, M. J., Das, M. C. & Das, A. K. Impact of culm harvest on seed production in a monocarpic bamboo. Biotropica 44, 699-704 (2012).
2012 Journal Article Preece, N. D., Crowley, G. M., Lawes, M. J. & van Oosterzee, P. Comparing above-ground biomass among forest types in the Wet Tropics: Small stems and plantation types matter in carbon accounting. Forest Ecology and ManagementForest Ecology and Management 264, 228-237 (2012).
2012 Journal Article Mohd-Azlan, J., Noske, R. A. & Lawes, M. J. Avian species-assemblage structure and indicator bird species of mangroves in the Australian monsoon tropics. Emu 112, 287 (2012).
2011 Journal Article Boyes, L. J., Gunton, R. M., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Causes of arrested succession in coastal dune forest. Plant Ecology 212, 21-32 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Adie, H., Russell-Smith, J., Murphy, B. P. & Midgley, J. J. How do small savanna trees avoid stem mortality by fire? The roles of stem diameter, height and bark thickness. Ecosphere 2, art42. (2011).
2011 Journal Article Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M. E., Gunton, R. M. & Lawes, M. J. Predator satiation and recruitment in a mast fruiting monocarpic forest herb. Annals of Botany 107, 379-387 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Nzunda, E. F. & Lawes, M. J. Costs of resprouting are traded off against growth and reproduction in subtropical coastal dune forest trees. Plant Ecology 212, 1991-2001 (2011).
2011 Book Nzunda, E. F., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Resprouting, Multi-stemming and the Persistence Niche: their role in the structure and dynamics of coastal dune forest. (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2011).
2011 Journal Article Mohd-Azlan, J. & Lawes, M. J. The effect of the surrounding landscape matrix on mangrove bird community assembly in north Australia. Biological Conservation 144, 2134-2141 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Murphy, B. P., Midgley, J. J. & Russell-Smith, J. Are the eucalypt and non-eucalypt components of Australian tropical savannas independent?. Oecologia 166, 229-239 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Adie, H., Richert, S., Kirkman, K. & Lawes, M. J. The heat is on: frequent high intensity fire in bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) drives mortality of the sprouting tree Protea caffra in temperate grasslands. Plant Ecology 212, 2013-2022 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Tsvuura, Z., Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Density Effects of a Dominant Understory Herb, Isoglossa woodii (Acanthaceae), on Tree Seedlings of a Subtropical Coastal Dune Forest. Biotropica (2011).
2011 Journal Article Laurance, W. F. et al. The 10 Australian ecosystems most vulnerable to tipping points. Biological Conservation 144, 1472-1480 (2011).
2011 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Richards, A. E., Dathe, J. & Midgley, J. J. Bark thickness determines fire resistance of selected tree species from fire-prone tropical savanna in north Australia. Plant Ecology 2057-2069 (2011).
2010 Journal Article Chapman, C. A. et al. Tropical tree community shifts: Implications for wildlife conservation. Biological Conservation 143, 366-374 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Franklin, D. C., Gunton, R. M., Schatz, J. & Lawes, M. J. Resprouting responses of trees in a fire-prone tropical savanna following severe tornado damage. Austral Ecology 35, 685-694 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M. E., Gunton, R. M., Franks, P. J. & Lawes, M. J. Ecological filtering by a dominant herb selects for shade tolerance in the tree seedling community of coastal dune forest . Oecologia 164, 861-870 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Griffiths, M. E., Tsvuura, Z., Franklin, D. C. & Lawes, M. J. Pollination ecology of Isoglossa woodii, a long-lived, synchronously monocarpic herb from coastal forests in South Africa. Plant Biology 12, 495-502 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Boyes, L. J., Griffiths, M. E., Manson, A. D. & Lawes, M. J. Soil nutrients are not responsible for arrested succession in disturbed coastal dune forest. Plant Ecology 208, 293-305 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Midgley, J. J., Lawes, M. J. & Chamaillé-Jammes, S. Savanna woody plant dynamics; the role of fire and herbivory, separately and synergistically. Australian Journal of Botany 58, 1-11 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Franklin, D. C., Matthews, R. & Lawes, M. J. History of the East Point monsoon forest. Northern Territory Naturalist 22, 2-16 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Lawes, M. J. et al. Obituary: Steven Edward Piper (28 February 1945–15 March 2009). Ostrich 81, v-vi (2010).
2010 Journal Article Gunton, R. M., Boyes, L. J., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Regeneration niches and functional traits of three common species in sub-tropical dune forest. Forest Ecology and Management 260, 1490-1497 (2010).
2010 Journal Article Clarke, P. J., Lawes, M. J. & Midgley, J. J. Resprouting as a key functional trait in woody plants – challenges to developing new organizing principles. New Phytologist 188, 651-654 (2010).
2009 Conference Paper Mayfield, M. M. et al. Identifying cost-effective reforestation approaches for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration in the Australian tropics. 10th International Congress of Ecology (INTECOL) (The International Association for Ecology, 2009). at <http://espace.cdu.edu.au/view/cdu:8531>
2009 Journal Article Born, J., Boreux, V. & Lawes, M. J. Sharing Ecological Knowledge - The Way Forward. Biotropica 41, 586 - 588 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Johnson, S. B., Griffiths, M. E., Peter, C. & Lawes, M. J. Pollinators, "mustard oil" volatiles, and fruit production in flowers of the dioecious tree Drypetes natalensis (Putranjivaceae). American Journal of Botany 96, 2080 - 2086 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Adie, H. & Lawes, M. J. Explaining conifer dominance in Afrotemperate forests: Shade tolerance favours Podocarpus latifolius over angiosperm species. Forest Ecology and Management 259, 176 - 186 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Adie, H. & Lawes, M. J. Role reversal in the stand dynamics of an angiosperm–conifer forest: Colonising angiosperms precede a shade-tolerant conifer in Afrotemperate forest. Forest Ecology and Management 258, 159 - 168 (2009).
2009 Journal Article Boreux, V., Born, J. & Lawes, M. J. Sharing Ecological Knowledge: Opportunities and Barriers to Uptake. Biotropica 41, 532 - 534 (2009).
2008 Journal Article Lawes, M. J. et al. Tree spacing and area of competitive influence do not scale with tree size in an African rain forest. Journal of Vegetation Science 19, 729-738 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Kotze, D. J. & Lawes, M. J. Environmental indicator potential of the dominant litter decomposer, Talitriator africana (Crustacea, Amphipoda) in Afrotemperate forests. Austral Ecology 33, 737-746 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Andersen, A. N. et al. Burning following tree fall causes local elimination of annual sorghum. Northern Territory Naturalist 20, 41 - 46 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Chapman, C. A., Kitajima, K., Zanne, A. E., Kaufman, L. S. & Lawes, M. J. A 10-year evaluation of the functional basis for regeneration habitat preference of trees in an African evergreen forest. Forest Ecology and Management 255, 3790 - 3796 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Boudreau, S. & Lawes, M. J. Density- and distance-dependent seedling survival in a ballistically dispersed subtropical tree species Philenoptera sutherlandii. Journal of Tropical Ecology 24, 1-8 (2008).
2008 Journal Article Nzunda, E. F., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Sprouting by remobilization of above-ground resources ensures persistence after disturbance of coastal dune forest trees. Functional Ecology 22, 577-582 (2008).
2008 Report Garnett, S. T. & Lawes, M. J. Monitoring program to assess the impact of metal pollution at Bing Bong Loading Facility on Listed Migratory Birds. Report of Survey 22-24 January 2008 to McArthur River Mining Pty Ltd. 16 pp 16 (McArthur River Mining Pty Ltd., 2008).
2007 Journal Article Nzunda, E. F., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Resprouting enhances seedling persistence in a subtropical coastal dune forest. African Journal of Ecology 46, 32-38 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Eeley, H. A. C., Findlay, N. J. & Forbes, D. Robust and persistent forest faunal communities in South Africa: a legacy of palaeoclimatic change and extinction filtering? . Journal of Biogeography 34, 1246-1264 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Nzunda, E. F., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Resprouting versus turning up of leaning trees in a subtropical coastal dune forest in South Africa. Journal of Tropical Ecology 23, 289-296 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Kotze, D. J. & Lawes, M. J. Viability of ecological processes in small Afromontane forest patches in South Africa. Austral Ecology 32, 294-304 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Nzunda, E. F., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. Multi-stemmed trees in subtropical coastal dune forest: survival strategy in response to chronic disturbance. Journal of Vegetation Science 18, 693-700 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Griffiths, M. E., Lawes, M. J. & Tsvuura, Z. Understorey gaps influence regeneration dynamics in subtropical coastal dune forest. Plant Ecology 189, 227-236 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Joubert, R., Griffiths, M. E., Boudreau, S. & Chapman, C. A. The effect of the spatial scale of recruitment on tree diversity in Afromontane forest fragments. Biological Conservation 139, 447 - 456 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Chapman, C. A., Naughton-Treves, L., Lawes, M. J., Wasserman, M. D. & Gillespie, T. R. Population declines of colobus in Western Uganda and conservation value of forest fragments. International Journal of Primatology 28, 513-528 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Brown, M. & Lawes, M. J. Colony size and nest density predict the likelihood of parasitism in the colonial Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix - Diderick Cuckoo Chrysococcyx caprius system. Ibis 149, 321-327 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Tsvuura, Z., Griffiths, M. E. & Lawes, M. J. The effect of herbaceous understory cover on fruit removal and seedling survival in coastal dune forest trees in South Africa. Biotropica 39, 428-432 (2007).
2007 Journal Article Lawes, M. J., Griffiths, M. E. & Boudreau, S. Colonial logging and recent subsistence harvesting affect the composition and physiognomy of a podocarp dominated Afrotemperate forest. Forest Ecology and Management 248, 48-60 (2007).

Global Exploration Fund of the National Geographic Society: Grant award  October 2011 ~$25K towards research on "The effect of oil palm on ecosystem processes and services". A jointly badged (CDU-UniMaS) PhD student will begin research on pollination services in mid-2012 in Sarawak and Sabah.

ARC-NZ Vegetation Function Network - Working Group 51: Podocarpaceae in Tropical Forests: Ecology, Ecophysiology, and Mineral Nutrition. February 2009. The emergence of angiosperms in tropical forests at the expense of the gymnosperms, their ancestral relatives, was one of the most important events in the evolutionary history of terrestrial plants. Conifers of the Podocarpaceae are one of the few gymnosperm families that still occur in angiosperm-dominated tropical forests. What enables podocarps to persist in angiosperm-dominated tropical environments and what can Podocarps tell us about the ecology of tropical forests? The answers to these questions are summarised in contributions to: Turner BL and Cernusak LA (2011) Ecology of the Podocarpaceae in Tropical Forests. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, pp. 207.
 

ARC-NZ Vegetation Function Network - Working Group 67: Ecology of sprouting. Two successful meetings of ten leading international researchers in the field of plant sprouting ecology and the persistence niche were held in 2009 and 2010. We developed a Buds-Protection-Resources (BPR) framework for understanding resprouting based on bud bank location, bud protection, and how buds are resourced. A summary of the main findings of WG67 is provided in:

Clarke PJ, Lawes MJ, Midgley JJ. 2010. Resprouting as a key functional trait in woody plants – challenges to developing new organizing principles. New Phytologist 188: 651-654.

and in a special issue of Plant Ecology:

Lawes MJ, Clarke PJ. 2011. Special Issue: Ecology of plant resprouting in fire-prone ecosystems. Plant Ecology 212(12): 1937-2125.
 

ACEAS - Vast lands and variable data: systematic analyses to understand the patterns and processes of mammal decline.

Workshop 1: 30 November 2010

Workshop 2: 13-17 June 2011

Australia has the unenviable record of the highest rate of mammal extinctions in the world. There is increasing concern that there is a new wave of extinction imminent in Australia, with scattered data and anecdotal reports suggesting that the mammals northern Australia are particularly at risk. The causes of these extinctions have been much debated, and it is possible that many factors contributed, but there is strong evidence that predation by introduced red foxes and cats was the primary cause in the majority of cases; however this is intertwined with circumstances of changed fire regimes, and extensive, long term cattle grazing, and there is strong evidence that these factors exacerbate declines.

Submitted paper: Diana O. Fisher, Chris N. Johnson, Michael J. Lawes, Susanne Fritz, Hamish McCallum, Jeremy VanDerWal, Brett Abbott, Anke Frank, Iain Gordon, Simon P. Blomberg, Sarah Legge, Mike Letnic, Colette R. Thomas, Alaric Fisher, Alex Kutt. Contemporary marsupial decline and extinction in tropical Australia: is history repeating? Proc Roy Soc Lond B.

Current

UQ LP Identifying cost effective reforestation approaches for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration in the Australian wet tropics

A unique experimental study of rainforest reforestation practices with biodiversity conservation as a primary goal. Our study examines the profits obtainable through the carbon market for each reforestation approach with the goal of increasing the feasibility of rainforest reforestation in North Queensland.
Daintree rainforest

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