Synopsis

Large areas of parkland in western Sydney have been invaded by European olive. Governments are currently investing substantial funds to remove this woody invader and to control it spread.

European olive is thought to be dispersed by birds. Therefore, the current distribution of olives should reflect the distribution of the native vegetation, which influences the distribution and activity of the main dispersal vectors.

The project: “Population dynamics of invasive shrubs” will examine the current distribution of European olive seedlings and their population structure, and compare these with characteristics of native shrubs. The research will be carried out in large reserves in western Sydney where European olive invasion is a major issue, but where native shrubs are also found.

Aims

The aims of this project are to:

  • Compare the spatial distribution of exotic (European olive) and native (Bursaria, acacia) shrubs at sites of varying structural complexity in western Sydney parklands
  • Explore the relationship between shrub distribution and environmental variables
  • Link changes in shrub distribution to potential differences in plant traits.

Student Benefits

This is a multi-disciplinary project that will expose you to a diverse range of skills. During this project, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Work on a high priority conservation project
  • Experience the problems associated with managing invasive plants close to large population centres
  • Experience a mixture of fieldwork and data analyses
  • Learn new skills in data analysis, and vegetation on plant assessment
  • Gain exposure to the activities of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service