Impact of Myrtle rust on Myrtaceae ecosystems

Russell Beddoes
Vacation Research Experience Scholarship 2014

Decline in populations of Myrtaceae, due to the recent rapid spread of the invasive fungus Puccinia psidii (Myrtle rust), could have far reaching effects at local population, community and ecosystem scales, with potential to change the ecological landscape of Australia’s unique forests. So far, little research has been conducted into these impacts.

This study will focus on measures of host recruitment and facilitation of invasive plants at two forest locations in the greater Brisbane region, which are dominated by the foundation species Melaleuca quinquenervia(Broad-leaf paper bark). The sites are considered to be examples of forest ecosystems with low impact and high impact Myrtle rust infestation. Quantifying these critical factors that determine a sustainable ecosystem may help to guide further questions about the likely long-term repercussions from this pervasive fungus.