Fraser Island Defenders Organisation conservationist Dr John Sinclair.
Fraser Island Defenders Organisation conservationist Dr John Sinclair. Contributed

Fraser Island's ecosystem under threat

A VETERAN Queensland conservationist has raised concern about the impact of myrtle rust on Fraser Island's ecosystems.

Doctor John Sinclair said the fungus had the potential to cause a bigger threat than the arrival of cane toads 60years ago.

He said while cane toads resulted in the extirpation of quolls and other mammals on the island, and had a dramatic impact in reducing reptile and invertebrate populations, myrtle rust threatened to dramatically reduce pollen flow.

 

 

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Myrtle rust has the potential to cause a bigger threat than the arrival of cane toads 60 years ago.

"Pollen provides a major energy source for birds, arboreal mammals and a wide range of insects that are also an energy source," Dr Sinclair said.

He said the broad-leaf paperbark was a keystone species that played a critical role in maintaining the integrity of K'gari's ecosystems.

"Any change to this species may have a dramatic impact on ecological communities as a whole," he said.

"The production of nectar and pollen by paperbarks is greater than any other plant species on K'gari."

"Alarm bells began ringing loudly when myrtle rust was first detected in Queensland.

"Then little was heard while over the years the spores were quietly spreading throughout the Australian bush, establishing itself without immediate visual impact, but the cumulative effects are now becoming more apparent."

Dr Sinclair has called on the Federal and State governments to step up research efforts to deal with the threat.

"We need more scientific research to help us mitigate this latest scourge that is already having a growing cumulative impact on K'gari's forests."