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Friday, October 26, 2018

All day
Seminar by three speakers (Stuart Parsons, Heikki Setälä & Johan Kotze)
Stuart Parsons, Heikki Setälä & Johan Kotze

Seminar by three speakers (Stuart Parsons, Heikki Setälä & Johan Kotze)

Event date: 26 October 2018 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Event type: Seminar
Venue: ASE 3D Viz Laboratory Room (N2-B1c-16c)
Speaker: Stuart Parsons, Heikki Setälä & Johan Kotze
About the speaker:

About Speaker 1: Stuart Parsons
Stuart completed his PhD in zoology at the University of Otago in New Zealand before working as a post-doc at the University of Bristol in the UK. He then spent 13 years at the University of Auckland before moving to Brisbane where he is Professor and Head of the School of Earth, Environmental and Biological Sciences at Queensland University of Technology.  His work is in the broad area of sensory ecology and animal behaviour, with a focus on bioacoustics. Past research has covered topics as diverse as auditory anatomy, biological sonar, mating systems, and habitat selection in natural and modified landscapes. Although much of Stuart’s work has focused on bats, he has also worked with insects, birds and whales. Much of Stuart’s work also has a strong applied focus, using his knowledge of acoustics and quantitative methods to develop detection and classification systems for vocalising animals. Systems developed have been used by conservation organisations to track birds in the wild, and state government to detect invasive species. He has also worked with federal and local government and multinational companies on large infrastructure development projects such as dams, roads, airports and quarries. Stuart is engaged in a number of international collaborations in New Zealand, Europe, USA, Central America, South Africa, Taiwan, China, and Thailand.


About Speaker 2: Heikki Setälä
Setälä is a professor of urban ecosystem studies and the leader of the Urban Ecosystem Research Group ( at the Univrsity of Helsinki, Finland. Setälä has ca. 30 years’ experience of national and international research. He started his scientific career as a forest and grassland ecologist, while his current interests target to urban ecosystem services, particularly to urban hydrology and the role of urban green infrastructure in mitigating the various problems due to urban runoff. Setälä has published about 150 publications in international peer review journals. The average citing rate/time of his 10 most cited publications is 466 times, total number of citation 8698, his H-index (ISI Web of Science) being 35. Setälä’s research has been amply and continuously funded by national and international funding officials, reflecting the wide international collaborative network he is part of.


About Speaker 3: Johan Kotze
Kotze is a university lecturer in urban ecology and a senior member of the Urban Ecosystem Research Group ( at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests include the responses of invertebrate and plant communities to urbanisation, focusing on the effects of various urban features, such as habitat edges, trampling intensity, and greenspace fragmentation in general, on communities in remnant urban forests, meadow and verge habitats, vegetated/green roofs and mires. Additionally, during the past years he has become interested in using urban soils as in situ laboratories to investigate decomposition and soil quality, and soil biodiversity. Kotze has published 76 papers in international peer review journals with an H-index of 22.


Speaker 1: Stuart Parsons, Queensland University of Technology

Title: Understanding Mystacina: Ten years of research into the biology and behaviour of 50% of New Zealand’s bat fauna.

Abstract: Over the past 10 years our team have sought to increase understanding of the behaviour and biology of the enigmatic New Zealand lesser short-tailed bat, Mystacina tuberculata. In particular, we have focused on the role of M. tuberculata in plant pollination, its use of non-pristine habitats, and its mating behaviour. In this talk I will outline: how flowering phenology may be adapted to minimise competition for the pollination services of the short-tailed bat; that although Mystacina tuberculata generally prefers native forest, in fragmented landscapes some individuals prefer exotic plantation and open space; and that this species exhibits a fascinating lek mating system with social vocalisations playing a central role in their breeding biology. In summary, ongoing research continues to reveal new and unique behaviours, including a degree of flexibility not generally attributed to the species.


Speaker 2: Heikki Setälä, University of Helsinki

Title: Urban trees: what do we know about the services they provide?

Abstract: The influence of plant type (grass/lawn, evergreen trees, deciduous trees) on soils and their ecosystem services (ESS) was studied in 41 parks of varying ages in two cities in Finland. Soils were sampled for physical-chemical-biological properties and heavy metals close to each plant type up to a 50 cm depth. Air quality was monitored in near-road environments in tree-covered and open areas. We hypothesize that 1) plant types, especially conifers, modify the soils differently resulting in divergent ESS between plant types, and (2) that air is cleaner under tree canopies compared to open areas.

Urban vegetation, particularly evergreen trees, had a clear effect on soil quality: they lowered soil water content and pH and increased soil organic matter, carbon and nitrogen sequestration compared to lawns. Also metal and nutrient pools and their mobility in the park soils was influenced by plant traits. We showed that, despite the ability of trees to reduce concentrations of road dust, urban trees seem ineffective (PM2.5), and even increase the levels of traffic-derived gaseous pollutants (NO2, VOCs, PAHs). These studies suggest that urban trees can be important in the provision of ESS, but that managing urban greenspace for better ESS provision requires specific knowledge on, e.g. plant types and the spatial structure of greenspaces within urban landscapes.


Speaker 3: Johan Kotze, University of Helsinki

Title: Are urban greenspaces safe for nature and humans alike?

Abstract: I will briefly introduce a research proposal which our team is currently developing, with the aim of including Singapore, Seoul and a set of Chinese cities. Urban greenspace is aesthetically-pleasing for the enjoyment and health benefits of urban residents. But, are these greenspaces environmentally safe – and sustainable – especially given that they often reside in highly polluted urban settings? Herein lies a conundrum; people are more disconnected from nature than ever before due to rapid urbanisation, yet connecting to urban nature may not necessarily have health benefits if highly polluted. The focus of this proposal is three-fold; i) the characterization of toxicants (including metals), and ii) the microbial community (‘missing beneficial microbes’) in soils across urban-rural gradients in highly-polluted cities in Asia, and iii) the use of traits in an insect group, here carabid beetles, as indicators of pollution stress and thus soil health.


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