Cyclone research

A range of research has investigated and monitored the impacts of Cyclone Yasi (February 2011) and Cyclone Larry (20 March 2006) on vegetation and wildlife in the Wet Tropics. 

Rainforest recovery

It is expected that large forest areas will eventually recover. Many areas where trees were stripped of foliage recovered relatively quickly due to high rainfall since the cyclones. In the worst hit areas the forest canopy was largely destroyed and trees left standing are often devoid of branches. These areas may take 30-40 years to recover. There is also an increased risk of fire due to the large amount of debris on the forest floor and the effect of drying winds and increased sunlight where the forest canopy no longer provides shade and shelter. Weeds may also invade the newly open rainforest.

 

Wildlife recovery

While some wildlife would have died in the cyclones, there is particular concern for the long term recovery of the endangered cassowary and arboreal mammals in areas where the forest canopy has been largely destroyed. Small, isolated patches of remnant vegetation, riparian strips and revegetation plots were also badly affected by the cyclone. Patches of the endangered 'Mabi Forest' on the tablelands were damaged in Cyclone Larry. These are home to Bennett's tree-kangaroos and ringtail possums. Cyclone Yasi affected large areas of habitat for the endangered mahogany glider.

 

 

 

Cyclone Yasi research

In 2013 the Queensland Parls and Wildlife Service prepared a report on the effects of Cyclone Yasi on coastal vegetation communities in the Tully and Mission Beach areas (3MB).

The report includes aerial photographic comparisons of vegetation in the Tully and Mission Beach areas between 2011 and 2013. Most comparisons showed dramatic improvements in vegetation cover since the cyclone. Rainforest regrowth tends to recover quickly, but the taller canopy trees will take a long time to be replaced. The endangered Melaleuca leucadendra communities which sit in swales on the beachfront were severely damaged and are not regenerating quickly. Vast areas of managroves had been killed by storm surge inundation of salt water and some areas are now subject to pig damage. Some lowland sclerophyll forests have been invaded by young rainforest trees, indicating that perhaps early fire management would be useful in such instances to help maintain habitat for mahogany gliders.

 

Cyclone Larry research

The Tropical Landscapes Joint Venture (between James Cook University and CSIRO) initiated research to assess the cyclone's impact using aerial photography and satellite imagery and to monitor the recovery of affected areas. The TLJV also assessed the impacts of Cyclone Larry on the ecology and wildlife of the region. In March 2007 Dr Steve Turton and Dr Allan Dale published a preliminary assessment of the environmental impacts of Cyclone Larry.

There have been numerous articles written about the impacts of Cyclone Larry. Nigel Tucker and others from Biotropica Australia have written about the impacts on different trees and wildlife.


   

 

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