Healthy Land and Water’s Citizen Science project, the Wild Macadamia Hunt has revealed some very exciting results for Brisbane.
Dr Catherine Nock from Southern Cross University recently analysed leaf samples collected from Brisbane as part of the Wild Macadamia Hunt and compared the results to those from more than 500 wild and planted macadamias trees and cultivated varieties.
The cultivated trees found in commercial orchards are selected for valuable features such as abundant flowers, large, flavoursome nuts, thinner shells and pest resistance, though have significantly less genetic diversity than wild trees. Genetic diversity provides opportunity to respond to changing conditions, new diseases, human needs and climatic change.
“The project results so far are exciting and intriguing,” said Dr Nock. “We’ve found that some of the old trees reported through the Wild Macadamia Hunt that may preserve the genetics of diminished or lost wild populations in the Brisbane region.”
Most of Brisbane’s Wild Macadamia Hunt trees were confirmed as Macadamia integrifolia (Queensland or Bauple Nut), the most well-known of Australia’s four macadamia species and the foundation of the macadamia industry.
Dr Nock’s research also revealed that some very old trees, estimated at more than 150 years of age, reported through the Wild Macadamia Hunt are closely related to trees from wild populations hundreds of kilometres away. Dr Nock considers that this likely reflects widespread translocations of macadamia over long periods of time.
The Wild Macadamia Hunt will continue until 30 June 2020 and Healthy Land and Water CEO, Julie McLellan, encourages anyone with an old macadamia tree to join the Hunt and register their tree through the Hunt’s online portal developed by the Atlas of Living Australia.
This project is one that you can undertake in your own backyard or local area. However, in light of the current situation around Covid-19, we emphasise that you must please follow government restrictions around movement and gatherings.
“This project has demonstrated the incredible contribution that everyday citizens can make to advancing scientific knowledge,” Ms McLellan said. “It has also shown that urban backyards as well as rainforest remnants can be important to conserving wild macadamias.”
Healthy Land and Water will use the results from the recent Brisbane project, supported by Brisbane City Council and the Macadamia Conservation Trust, to conserve and expand populations of macadamias that are threatened in the wild, though they are abundant in cultivation.
Brisbane participants in the Wild Macadamia Hunt will soon receive the results for their tree and the project results will be made publicly available. Funding is sought to undertake genetic analysis of leaf samples collected from other areas.
Information on the Wild Macadamia Hunt and access to the online portal is available here.
This project is proudly supported by Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government—Queensland Citizen Science Grants.