Systematics and conservation of Western Australian eucalypts
This project aims to progress taxonomic knowledge of the eucalypts, to provide conservation assessments of newly described species and to investigate the effects of fragmentation on population and pollination processes.
Eucalyptus caesia Benth. (Myrtaceae) pollinated by Western Pygmy Possum, Boyagin Nature Reserve in the Southwest Australian Floristic Region.
Photo: © S.D. Hopper
The eucalypts, or gum trees, belong to the Myrtaceae, encompassing the genus Eucalyptus and also the closely-related genera Corymbia and Angophora. There are more than 900 species of eucalypts and almost all of these are endemic to Australia, with a small number occurring in New Guinea and Indonesia. One species, Eucalyptus deglupta extends into the northern hemisphere, occurring in the southern Philippines. The eucalypts span a wide range of habitats and therefore form an important component of many plant communities, dominating a large proportion of the Australian landscape. They are also of major economic value in many countries for timber, fuel wood and fibre, and have become serious invasive weeds in some countries. Among Australia’s States and Territories, Western Australia has the greatest diversity and most extensive communities of eucalypts and this is therefore an important region for the study of the group.
Commencing initially in 1978, the aim of this project was to establish an inventory of WA eucalypts, documenting their distribution, and assessing their conservation status. This has since developed into collaborative studies with several colleagues, and has provided insights into a number of aspects of eucalypt systematics, biogeography, evolution and ecology relevant to ensuring conservation of these important trees, dominant in so much of Western Australia's vegetation.
Key publications 2006-2011
- Hopper, S.D. and McQuoid, N.K. (2009). Two new rare species and a new hybrid in Eucalyptus series Tetrapterae (Myrtaceae) from southern coastal Western Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 22: 180-192.
- Byrne, M. and Hopper, S.D. (2008). Granite outcrops as ancient islands in old landscapes: evidence from the phylogeography and population genetics of Eucalyptus caesia (Myrtaceae) in Western Australia. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 93: 177-188.
- Hopper, S.D. and Nicolle, D. (2007). Diamond gum (Eucalyptus rhomboidea: Myrtaceae), a new threatened species endemic to the Bremer Range of the Southwest Australian Floristic Region. Nuytsia 17(1): 185–194.
- McQuoid, N.K. and Hopper, S.D. (2007). The rediscovery of Eucalyptus nutans F. Muell. from the south coast of Western Australia. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 90: 41-45.
- Krauss, S.L., Hermanutz, L., Hopper, S.D., and Coates, D.J. (2007). Population-size effects on seeds and seedlings from fragmented eucalypt populations: implications for seed sourcing for ecological restoration. Australian Journal of Botany 55: 390-399.
Project Partners and Collaborators
Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Perth