Mr Brenton Von Takach Dukai

BSc (USyd), MConBio (UNSW)
PhD Student

I am an ecologist with a passion for conservation biology, molecular ecology, and evolutionary biology. I am also a keen field naturalist (not naturist!), and enjoy birding, spotlighting, and other wildlife-related activities.

I have experience in many aspects of research, having contributed in the past to projects examining the trophic cascade effects of apex predator removal, as well as assisted with numerous monitoring surveys in an array of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

I began a PhD with the Fenner School in 2015, under the supervision of Sam Banks and David Lindenmayer, having spent the previous two years working as a botanist and ecologist for a specialist environmental consultancy. Conducting dozens of environmental impact assessments led me to the realisation that there is still much that is unknown about Australia’s native ecosystems, and I decided to contribute to our growing understanding of ecosystem dynamics through an investigation of one of Australia’s most iconic eucalypts, mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans).

Research interests

Thesis title

The ecology of disturbance in mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) forests

Thesis description

Mountain ash is one of the tallest tree species in the world, and the forests in which it grows contain some of the highest known carbon biomass densities. Unfortunately, the combined influence of exploitation for pulpwood and timber resources as well as a changing fire regime have led to a massive reduction in the extent and contiguity of old growth forest.

My project aims to investigate how forest ecosystems dominated by obligate seeders will respond to contemporary disturbance regimes, using Mountain Ash forest as a model system. I will attempt to identify and characterise life history traits and population demographic parameters that influence the response of Mountain Ash to disturbance. These include identifying the factors that influence the time to reproductive maturity, the relative contribution of seed dispersal and pollination distance to gene flow, and the impacts of timber harvesting and modified fire regimes on population genetics. I will also investigate some aspects of hybridisation with co-occurring eucalypt species, and try to determine whether this is a potential adaptive response to contemporary disturbance regimes.