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Symposia at the VII Southern Connection Congress

Confirmed symposia

The following symposia have been confirmed.

Please return to the website regularly, it will be updated frequently. We have a large number of proposed symposia and are finalising the programme.

1. Temperate indigenous grasslands: their conservation, values, resilience and sustainable management

Contact:
Alan Mark
Email alan.mark@otago.ac.nz

Temperate indigenous grasslands are one of the world's great biomes but are also the most altered, the most threatened and the least protected terrestrial biome on earth. This is the central issue which the organisers of this symposium, the Temperate Grasslands Conservation Initiative (TGCI) of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas, is actively addressing. Occupying about 8% of the earth's terrestrial surface, only 5% of this biome is currently within the global system of protected areas. Initiatives of the TGCI since its inception in 1996, followed by its first global workshop in Hohhot, China, in 2008, have aided an increase from only 0.69% over this time. Promotion of the many values, ecosystem services and resilience (against climate change and other factors) of these grasslands, and importance of their sustainable management and their formal protection/conservation is a continuing challenge. Meetings in various parts of the globe have continued to pursue these issues. We hope this symposium will attract a wide range of papers addressing the various issues and developing a strategy for achieving these objectives, both from the Southern Hemisphere and globally. The TGCI web details are most simply accessed by entering “wcpa grasslands” in Google Search, where the first link accesses our webpage and below this are links to several of our publications.

Alternatively, the direct link is via:

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2. Southern biological connectivity, the effect of the WWD

Contact:
Daniel Ruzzante
Email daniel.ruzzante@dal.ca

Jonathan Waters
Email jon.waters@otago.ac.nz

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current, also known as the West Wind Drift (WWD), dominates Ocean Circulation in the southern hemisphere, and is the strongest ocean current on Earth. The thermal fronts north and south of this current effectively work as barriers to latitudinal dispersal, whereas the current itself has apparently played an important role in driving long-distance, longitudinal dispersal of aquatic biodiversity. This symposium tests for WWD-mediated biological connectivity between landmasses in order to improve our understanding of southern biodiversity. In particular, we aim to assess the role of trans-oceanic dispersal in shaping the evolution and ecology of high-latitude communities.

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3. Predictions from climate change: benefits and losses for southern reptiles and amphibians

Contact:
Alison Cree
Email alison.cree@otago.ac.nz

Phil Bishop
Email phil.bishop@otago.ac.nz

Research on the current and potential impacts of climate change on the ectothermic reptiles and amphibians of southern landmasses is gaining momentum. We aim to identify what patterns have been observed and what is predicted, considering approaches from the autecological to the community and landscape level, and the potential for both positive and negative effects. This symposium will help integrate recent initiatives among researchers of the different landmasses to identify whether common themes exist, and what priorities might be proposed for conservation initiatives.

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4. Organismal responses to a changing climate in the Southern Hemisphere

Contact:
Mariana Bulgarella
Email M.Bulgarella@massey.ac.nz

Global climate is changing at unprecedented rates. In turn, ecosystems are expected to respond at many levels of biological organization. Species respond by shifting their activity patterns, phenologies and/or geographic ranges. The way organisms adapt, or fail to, will depend on two types of traits: morphological and migration-related behavior, or physiological and thermal-related behavior. This symposium focuses on ecophysiological studies of climate adaptation in Southern Hemisphere animals. By integrating ecology and physiology we can better understand evolutionary mechanisms, processes, and animal responses.

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5. Southern radiations: processes driving diversification

Contact:
Bill Lee
Email Leew@landcareresearch.co.nz

The southern hemisphere supports some of the most spectacular plant and animal radiations globally. On many land masses these contribute disproportionately to regional biodiversity. The radiations have arisen in a range of climates and over varying timescales. This symposium examines the key processes driving diversification across different southern land masses in order to improve our understanding of radiations generally. The aim is to compare animal and plant radiations and to determine whether similar or different drivers are involved.

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6. Northern connections: the success and failure of biological links with the Northern Hemisphere

Contact:
Greg Jordan
Email Greg.Jordan@utas.edu.au

Southern Connections was established to look at questions specifically relating to the Southern Hemisphere. This symposium will focus on one of the most central of these questions: How is the southern hemisphere different from the north, and why? Two factors have contributed to varying degrees to these differences - environmental determinism, in which differences in environments result in different biotas, and dispersal limitation that has prevented interchange. These processes are central to the assembly of continental scale biotas, and also have flow on effects on the use of proxies to determine past climates, on how ecosystems may respond to very long term environmental change. Some of the key questions are: What are the relative contributions of dispersal limitation and ecological determinism? How and why do rates of interchange vary among different groups of organisms? How do the four major regions (Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America) differ? How large are the temporal lags resulting from dispersal limitation? What roles do interactions between species play in these processes? What are the consequences for our understanding of the evolution of past environments?

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7. Biogeographic relationships of Cenozoic terrestrial vertebrates of Australasia

Contact:
Trevor Worthy
Email trevor.worthy@adelaide.edu.au

Australia was joined to Antarctica till only about 35 Ma and so the origin of its terrestrial vertebrates are inextricably linked to Antarctic biotas now long extinct and then more distantly to those from South America. Too often it is said that, for example, Australia’s fauna came from South America. Further, it has long been assumed that Australia was the dispersal source for a majority of New Zealand’s terrestrial vertebrates. This symposium will seek to test these long held assumptions and focus on establishing the links and directionality of faunal exchange between Australasian land masses and other austral lands as exhibited by Terrestrial vertebrates from various times in the Cenozoic.

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8. New Caledonia: understanding an enigmatic biota

Contact:
Steve Trewick
Email S.Trewick@massey.ac.nz

New Caledonia represents one of the most striking yet under explored island biotas in the southern hemisphere. This tropical island of just 18,000 sq. km, is a biodiversity hotspot with among the highest global densities of species. Biodiversity is especially high among the terrestrial flora and reptile fauna and in the marine domain. This is matched by high rates of endemicity including an endemic bird family and several endemic plant families. Geologically of Gondwanan origin, the islands emerged from the sea during the Eocene overlain by metal-rich oceanic crust. Current research on many fronts is starting to reveal the story of this enigmatic island biota.

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9. Chile/New Zealand: The continental scale experiment

Contact:
Aurora Gaxiola
Email Aurora.Gaxiola@cantab.net

Peter Bellingham
Email bellinghamp@landcareresearch.co.nz

Southern Chile and New Zealand share a common biotic origin in Gondwana and a similar southern temperate environmental setting. However, they have had very different geographic histories and have had greatly differing post-Gondwanic biotic dynamics. From a biotic view point they present a fascinating amalgam of compelling similarities and major differences. Until now, it is the similarities that have been celebrated. This symposium seeks to redress the balance by comparing and contrasting the biogeographic, paleoecological, functional and contemporary process in southern temperate ecosystems in the two countries. Papers will be prepared jointly by Chilean and New Zealand based researchers. This symposium will be the vehicle to launch the Southern Temperate Ecosystems Research Network (STeRN) which will help to move forward scientific collaboration in southern temperate ecosystems.

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10. Alpine ecology in the Southern Hemisphere

Contact:
Deb Wilson
Email WilsonD@landcareresearch.co.nz

Alan Mark
Email alan.mark@otago.ac.nz

Alpine ecosystems face global change including climate warming, invasive species, and land-use intensification. This symposium is dedicated to plant and animal ecology of high mountain systems, at and above the climatic treeline, in the Southern Hemisphere and in comparison with Northern Hemisphere systems. Topics may include experimental and descriptive investigations of adaptations to alpine life zones, including processes, responses, functions and dynamics of organisms, communities and ecosystems. Research findings related to current environments as well as actual and predicted effects of global change are welcome.

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11. Learning more about wilding tree management (whole day)

Contact:
Nick Ledgard
Email nick.ledgard@xtra.co.nz

This is a one day symposium to pass on useful research information to those managing wilding conifers and for researchers to understand the issues facing managers and how they are dealing with them.

Whole day.

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12. Wildfire regime shifts in temperate forest ecosystems (whole day)

Contact:
Thomas T. Veblen
Email Thomas.Veblen@colorado.edu

Andres Holz
Juan Paritsis
Alan Tepley

1) Fire-climate relationships: past behavior and future forecasting.
We will focus on the effects of climate variability on fire activity, emphasizing teleconnections to large-scale climate drivers such as El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation, Indian Ocean Dipole, and the Antarctic Oscillation. Teleconnections of regional weather to these major climate drivers are the basis for much current research predicting fire risk. How these climate influences differentially affect different fuel types is a question of broad interest among researchers and fire managers. We will invite presentations on this theme based on a broad assortment of techniques, including documentary fire records, tree-ring fire reconstructions, and remote sensing, to assess the impact of climate change on fire activity and improve our understanding of how major climate drivers can be incorporated into forecasting tools.

2) Human impacts on fire regimes through land-use practices
In many parts of the world fire regimes are being modified due to human activities such as the use of fire in land clearance for agriculture and livestock raising, increased accidental or intentional burning due to easier access to formerly remote regions, vegetation and fuel changes due to invasive exotic plant species, and land cover changes in the wildland urban interface (WUI). We will invite presentations that focus on how land-use changes potentially alter fire regimes and include a variety of research approaches from retrospective tree-ring reconstructions to long-term field monitoring, spatial modeling and remote sensing applications. The goal is to share insights and experience on understanding and mitigating the impacts on fire related to land-use changes and growth of the WUI in fire-prone ecosystems in the Southern hemisphere and elsewhere.

3) Post-Fire Vegetation Dynamics and Feedbacks on Subsequent Fire: an Inter-Hemispheric Comparison
The rate of burning of many forests and shrublands around the world is predicted to increase under a warming climate. However, in many regions these climate-driven increases in frequency and extent may be exacerbated by properties of post-fire vegetation that produce a positive feedback, making recently burned areas increasingly prone to subsequent fire. This increased susceptibility can result from changes in vegetation stature, fuel loading and continuity, and effects of vegetation on microclimate/fuel moisture compared to conditions in the pre-burned community. We will bring together researchers evaluating post-fire vegetation dynamics in the northern and southern hemispheres in order to compare the feedbacks of post-fire vegetation on susceptibility to subsequent fire and determine (1) what factors drive the strength of the positive feedbacks, (2) in what types of environments are these positive feedbacks most likely to lead to abrupt, nearly irreversible changes from the historical vegetation, and (3) the management options available to reduce the probability of permanent changes in vegetation driven by increasing flammability of the post-fire vegetation.

Whole day.

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13. Cenozoic island biogeography: integrating geology, paleontology and phylogeny

Contact:
Daphne Lee
Email daphne.lee@otago.ac.nz

Co-convenors:
Daphne Lee (University of Otago);
Liz Kennedy (GNS Science)

Many questions have been asked about the origins of the present day biodiversity of isolated islands such as New Zealand, New Caledonia and Madagascar. Recent studies have investigated the Oligocene - Early Miocene land reduction in the New Zealand region, and the implications of this for the origins of the modern fauna and flora. Similar research is being carried out on the origin and diversification of the biota of New Caledonia and other islands. This symposium will focus on integration of all aspects of geology, paleontology and phylogeny in order to unravel the complex and controversial origins of these biotas.

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14. New insights into the ecological consequences of late Quaternary Southern Hemisphere extinctions

Contact:
Jamie Wood
Email woodj@landcareresearch.co.nz

Mass extinctions were associated with the Late Quaternary spread of modern humans to all major habitable southern landmasses outside of Africa (Australia c. 50 - 40 kya; South America c. 12 - 8 kya, Madagascar c. 2 kya; New Zealand c. 0.7 - 0.5 kya). The loss of many of the largest animals from these landmasses is likely to have had dire consequences for entire terrestrial ecosystems, e.g., through changing vegetation community structure and composition, and by altering fire regimes. Recent advances, particularly in the development of new proxies and analytical techniques, have allowed us to now gain a direct ‘real-time’ view of how ecosystems changed following these extinction events. This symposium will focus on:
1) studies showing temporal relationships between extinctions and ecosystem change;
2) what are the similarities and differences in patterns of ecosystem response to extinctions between the different landmasses;
3) whether introduced fauna can act as ecological surrogates. We invite proposals for presentations that examine topics related to these issues, and which utilise any of the wide range of proxies and methods available for doing so (e.g. Sporormiella, coprolites, ancient DNA, stable isotopes, experimental work).
Southern insect biogeography: evidence from fossils and phylogenies.

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15. Amber: paleontological potential for the Southern Hemisphere

Contact:
Uwe Kaulfuss
Email: kauuw275@student.otago.ac.nz

Amber is of great paleontological importance because it preserves a diverse array of organisms in microscopic detail, including internal organs, tissues, and even cells and organelles. The discovery of amber deposits and amber inclusions is important not only for tracing the evolutionary history of lineages with otherwise poor fossil records, but also for elucidating the composition, diversity, and ecology of terrestrial paleoecosystems. Ambers are found in hundreds of Old and New World localities, with particular abundance in the Cretaceous and the Eocene to Miocene. Until now, most amber deposits have been discovered on the former northern supercontinent Laurasia. Amber deposits of the ‘southern continents’ include the Cretaceous Lebanese, Jordanian and Ethiopian ambers, the Eocene Indian amber, the Miocene Amazonian and Australian ambers, and some recently discovered Eocene–Miocene deposits in southern New Zealand. This symposium is dedicated to any amber-related topics that contribute to our understanding of the composition and the development of terrestrial paleoecosystems of the Southern Hemisphere.

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16. Modern and paleoclimate perspectives on the Southern Hemisphere westerly wind field

Contact:
Chris Moy
Email chris.moy@otago.ac.nz

Co-covenors:
Michael-Shawn Fletcher (Australian National University);
Patricio Moreno (Universidad de Chile);
Christopher Moy (University of Otago)

The southern westerly winds are an important feature of atmospheric circulation in the mid to high latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. Not only do the westerlies influence the amount and distribution of precipitation in all mid to high latitude southern landmasses, the westerlies play a major role in carbon cycling in the Southern Ocean through their influence on air-sea gas exchange and are an important component of regional and global climate dynamics. We welcome a diverse range of contributions related to the past and present dynamics of the Southern Hemisphere westerlies. In particular, we encourage both terrestrial and marine proxy record perspectives, and modeling based findings, for the time periods of the last glacial maximum, deglaciation, and Holocene, including both low and high-frequency timescales. We also encourage papers that focus on the potential effects of ocean and atmosphere forcing in the high southern latitudes, such as: changes in biological productivity of the Southern Ocean, changes in sea ice distribution, changes in mountain glaciers, and changes in terrestrial ecosystems.

 

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17. Ecological restoration: across the land and sea

Contact:
Dr Stephen Hartley
Email stephen.hartley@vuw.ac.nz

Ecological restoration is a practical science that aims to reverse loss of local biodiversity and ecosystem function in areas that have been adversely affected by human activities. We live, however, in an era where human influence over the land, oceans and atmosphere is greater than ever before, the so-called ‘anthropocene’. To address such broad-scale processes ecological restoration is being undertaken at increasingly large-scales and with increasing attention to the processes that connect ecosystems to one another.  In this symposium we will see examples of the many different techniques being pioneered in the Southern Hemisphere, ranging from the eradication of mammals on offshore islands, the use of fenced sanctuaries, rehabilitation of degraded land and the management of marine reserve networks. This symposium will demonstrate the breadth of restoration activities being undertaken, emphasising the connections between land and sea and the role of science in underpinning practical advances.

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18. Paleoclimate of the Southern Hemisphere viewed from lakes: linking records spanning tropical Queensland to southern Patagonia

Contact:
Paul Augustinus
Email p.augustinus@auckland.ac.nz

Conveners:
Paul Augustinus
(University of Auckland)
Christopher Moy
(University of Otago)

Our understanding of past climate, tectonic, and environmental change in the Southern Hemisphere is largely derived from marine and ice core records. Maar crater lakes, in addition to well-located lacustrine systems, have the potential to provide long and continuous records of Quaternary climate change that provide a much-needed terrestrial perspective from the largely oceanic Southern Hemisphere. This session seeks to bring together researchers working on various Southern Hemisphere lacustrine records of climate and environmental change. We are particularly interested in long and high-resolution temporal records, such as those that have been obtained from the Atherton Tableland, western Victoria, Auckland, Otago, and South America maar lake sequences. In addition, we welcome lacustrine sediment records derived from non-volcanic basins spanning a range of timescales that can resolve past temperature, hydrologic, or environmental change during the late Cenozoic.

 

19. Ecological thresholds, triggers, and traps in Southern Hemisphere forest history

Contact:
A/Prof Simon Haberle
Email simon.haberle@anu.edu.au

Co-convenors:
Prof Cathy Whitlock
(Montana State University)
Dr Scott Mooney
(University of NewSouth Wales)

New paleoenvironmental proxy, detailed high-resolution records, and innovative modeling approaches suggest rapid transformation of past plant communities in the face of environmental change. In fact, the occurrence of multiple stable states as precursor to change is a common feature in the history of many forest ecosystems. The similarity of these dynamics in different forest types and on different continents has not been adequately discussed. This session will explore (1) the rates and directions of past forest change in SH temperate forests; (2) the role of past climate variability, land-use change, and altered fire regimes in major ecological transformations; and (3) the sensitivity of ecosystems to perturbations of different magnitude and intensity. The sequence of events that leads from the creation of polyclimax states to large-scale ecological transformations will be examined at different spatial and temporal scales to provide a perspective on current and projected ecological change in Southern Hemisphere forests. Paleoecological studies utilizing new and multiple proxy as well as new modeling approaches to reconstruct past ecosystem change will be encouraged. Presentations will be assembled for publication in a special issue of Quaternary Research or Palaeo-3.

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20. Change, disaster, resilience and future-proofing of urban nvironments

Contact
Glenn Stewart
Email glenn01@xtra.co.nz

New Zealand sits precariously on the edge of tectonic plates and vast oceans and thus is prone to earthquakes and sea level rise as well as the background anthropogenic and successional changes. Urban environments are key to the future of human-kind in terms of commerce, importance of green space to health, happiness, equity and productivity, to lowland biodiversity (Erfurt Declaration), and lessons on limits to growth and sustainability. This symposium will review current knowledge of urban change ecology, the nature of chronic and catastrophic disruption, and the mechanisms of and management for living and recovering within the context of dynamic physical, social and biological systems.

Rationale:

Urban Resilience to Disasters is a very important and timely topic for the Southern Connection Congress, given all the earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunami’s, dust storms that have occurred, particularly around the Pacific Rim in the past few years.

The symposium will include topics like:

21. The Southern Ocean

Contact:
Gary Wilson
Email gary.wilson@otago.ac.nz
Lionel Carter
Email lionel.carter@vuw.ac.nz

The Southern Ocean occupies a unique position in the global ocean and climate system. The lack of landmass has meant that the surface ocean has behaved in a relatively self-regulated manner with long-lived interconnected ocean and climate components, the former subdivided into a series of fast flowing fronts that separate zones of weaker flow and are known collectively as the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). This eastward flowing current is the planet's longest and largest current and the only flow to connect the major ocean basins. At depth however, northward moving, abyssal currents are tapped off into the major oceans and transfer water from Antarctica to the lower latitudes as part of the global circulation, formerly known as the “thermohaline conveyor”. Both the ACC and abyssal flows owe their origin to the break-up of Gondwana and appear to be long established phenomena. However, recent climate models imply a potential disconnect between the ocean and climate and a higher degree of sensitivity of the region to a warming globe. We hope this symposium will attract contributions that can report new data, analyses and model predictions from this vast region, their sensitivity to change and the impacts of change in the remarkable biophysical realm of the Southern Ocean. We hope the symposium will stimulate interest in new collaborative research that focuses on key areas and problems.

22. Origins, Functioning and Futures of Subantarctic Ecosystems

Contact:
Colin Meurk (50 degrees South Trust)
Email meurkc@landcareresearch.co.nz

New Zealand sits precariously in middle latitudes on the edge of tectonic plates and vast oceans. The conference venue is well-placed geographically and historically to host this symposium on the southern islands (subantarctic to some). These circum-antarctic islands are deservedly of world heritage status and owe their evolutionary and vegetation history to isolation, oceanicity, post-glacial climate, dynamic interaction between terrestrial and marine environments, and human intervention. This symposium will provide a forum for reviewing the change biology of these fascinating laboratories, the ecosystem drivers, the natural and anthropogenic threats to southern ocean terrestrial environments, and exploring human perception, feedback and management for sustainable futures of these islands.

A post-congress tour will visit Stewart Island, which is the next best thing to New Zealand's 'subantarctic'. This will be led by myself (terrestrial ecologist) and a marine scientist with some joint activities and some specific to each discipline. For some recent adventures the website http://www.50south.org.nz/category/website-tag/campbell-island-bicentennial-expedition documents the expedition to Campbell Island during the summer of 2010/11 – sandwiched between Christchurch's earthquakes - to remind us that we are "on the edge".

23. Pollination systems-Diversity and disturbance in the Southern Lands

Contact:
Caroline L. Gross
Email cgross@une.edu.au

Pollination services are a key ecosystem function. In this symposium, the variety of pollination services in the lands of the southern hemisphere is explored against that theme of vulnerability and resilience. Disturbances are many and include habitat fragmentation, changing climates, introduced plants and floral visitors – all of which can reduce effective population sizes in some species and create opportunities for others. In the face of these things, pollinator networks are a tool to gauge the irreplaceability of partnerships and they provide rules for the reassembly of species into ecosystems that require repairing. The intricate details of the plant-pollinator relationship are key knowledge requirements for the conservation ecology of natural and managed landscapes and the aim of this symposium is to explain the biology and ecology of pollination systems in the Southern Lands.

 

© VII Southern Connections
Congress 2013

Department of Botany
University of Otago
PO Box 56
Dunedin 9054
New Zealand
Email southern.connection@otago.ac.nz