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.
- The effect of oil palm plantations on ecosystem services: insect pollination- click this link Oil Palm - pollination for more information
- The effect of oil palm plantations on ecosystem function: seed dispersal - click this link Oil Palm - seed dispersal for more information
- Resource allocation strategies in disturbance prone environments: sprouting behaviour, carbohydrate storage and the persistence niche- click this link Sprouting for more information
- Surviving fire: stem traits and evolutionary trade-offs - click this link stem survival for more information
- How fire kills trees: Understanding stem mortality to predict savanna resilience to fire and climate change
- Fire, phenology & diversity - click this link fire, phenology for more information
- Recruitment in tropical cypress-pine: Is Callitris intratropica a useful indicator of savanna health? - click this link Callitris for more information
- 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]
- 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]
- Avoidance behaviours of Rattus tunneyi to introduced and native predators[MSc (MTEM) student: Marissa Skeels]
- The invasive potential of Rubberbush (Calotropis procera) in the northern Australia [PhD student: Enock Menge] - click this link Rubberbush for more information
- Ecology of Migratory Shorebirds on Darwin Harbour Mudflats [PhD student: Amanda Lilleyman]
- Gouldian Finches and Fire [PhD student: Anna Weier]
- Management of Feral Pigs and Buffalo in Kakadu National Park [PhD student: Stewart Pittard]
- Investigating the efficiency of reforestation approaches in restoring rainforest biodiversity and function. [PhD student: Mia Derhe]
- Rubberbush [Post-doctoral Research Fellow: Dr Eddie Webber]
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.
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.