Scientists to outline urban evolution and new threat to trees

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Scientists to outline urban evolution and new threat to trees


Dr Celine Frere studies a water dragon

9 October 2014

What can water dragons living in Brisbane’s CBD teach us about evolution and what is happening to many of our favourite native trees following the arrival of an exotic fungal disease?

Coast residents are invited to find out by attending a fascinating free public lecture by USC’s Dr Celine Frere and Associate Professor David Lee on Tuesday 21 October.

The one-hour presentation at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium from 5.30pm will be followed by a question and answer time and the opportunity to meet the presenters while enjoying light refreshments.

Dr Frere’s presentation ‘Can urbanisation lead to contemporary evolution: a dragon’s tale’ will outline her research on different groups of eastern water dragons living in Brisbane’s CBD and how they are evolving to adapt to their urban environment.

“Increasing urbanisation poses a global threat to biodiversity, and minimising its impact will require a greater understanding of how organisms adapt to life in cities,” she said.

“While some animals are modifying their physiology and behaviour, little is known about the evolutionary trajectories of these species in human-altered environments.”

Dr Lee’s presentation ‘Myrtle rust a threat to many Australian native plant species’ will describe the impacts of myrtle rust on primary industries growing native species, with a focus on the lemon myrtle and eucalypt plantations sectors.

“This exotic fungal disease from South America has spread rapidly since it became established in Australia a few years ago,” he said.

“Around the world it is a massive threat to the plant family Myrtaceae, which in Australia includes eucalypts, bottlebrush, tea tree, lilly pilly, myrtles and turpentine, so it’s a big worry, not just for plantations but our native forests too.”

This event is part of the University’s ongoing Research@USC public lecture series, which will continue with Education on Tuesday 4 November.

To register your attendance, email or phone 5459 4529

— Jane Cameron

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