Rainforests: Ecology & Microbe Mining
Do plant-microbe interactions contribute to rainforest diversity?
Rainforests support an unprecedented number of dominant tree species - where many ecosystems support one or two major tree species, rainforests can support up to 400 per hectare. Understanding how so many species can coexist in one environment, without one ever coming to dominate or out-compete its neighbours, is a fundamental question in rainforest ecology. Davies Creek in FNQ has never been logged and is a unique resource for ecological inquiry as it has 50 years of plant demographic data associated with it (painstakingly collected by committed teams of ecologists and volunteer students since the plot was first mapped by Joseph Connell in 1963). Now, in collaboration with community ecologist Dr Peter Green, we ask: 'Can soil microorganisms contribute to the germination patterns of some tree species - do these relationships assist in maintaining rainforest diversity?'