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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
About Speaker 2: Heikki Setälä
About Speaker 3: Johan Kotze
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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