Ray Wills - Plant Disease Work

I was a Research Scientist in the Science & Information Division, Dept of Conservation and Land Management from 1988 to 1996. Up to 1992, my research examined the ecological impact of plant pathogens on ecosystems in the south of Western Australia, particularly on populations of rare, threatened and poorly known flora.

While Phytophthora cinnamomi is regarded as the most serious threat to the conservation of both flora and fauna in south-west Australia, other widely-distributed pathogens, including other species of Phytophthora, canker fungi such as Botryosphaeria ribis and Diplodina sp., and Armillaria luteobubulina have a significant impact on ecosystems of the south-west. Studies examined a range of plant communities and established a Departmental database on the susceptibility of native plant species, particularly rare, threatened and poorly known flora, and keystone species, to plant pathogens. Research also highlighted animal groups sensitive to habitat disturbance by plant pathogens by examining functional groups within plant communities. This information has been published in a number of scientitific and technical journals, and used in management plans and to target vulnerable species for seed collection and micropropagation in a project to preserve genetic resources.

Progress of dieback disease as it invades a Banksia baxteri stand near Cheyne Beach, east of Albany, Western Australia.

Impact of canker disease on Banksia coccinea near Cheyne Beach, east of Albany, Western Australia.

(Click here if you would like a more expansive explanation of diseases in the south-west of Western Australia.)

For other information on dieback, check out Giles Hardy's Murdoch University web site.

You may be interested to know what I did before I joined CALM.

My last project with CALM between 1992 and 1996 was funded by the Australian Nature Conservation Agency, and endeavoured to develop a Geographic Information System-based model which will provide a tool for managing Phytophthora cinnamomi.

Created November 9, 1995

Last updated: August 3, 2004