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Ancient Gondwana rainforest

Gondwanan rainforests –a constantly evolving community?

Some 180 million years ago, the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana was covered in lush rainforest. As the lands split and the climate evolved, the continent of Australia developed unique ecosystems. Today, only around 1% of Australia is covered in rainforest. Yet it is home to more than half of Australia’s plant families and some of the world’s most ancient lineages. As we peak into the past, we learn extraordinary things about evolution, dispersion and potentially our future.
Our resident Senior Principal Research Scientist, Dr Maurizio Rossetto, has transformed the way we understand rainforest evolution through his research of the Australian rainforests.
Our research has helped to shift the evolutionary interpretation of our rainforests from being in relictual stasis and historical decline, towards a concept of an actively evolving flora responding to both long- and short-term selective pressures.
Our rainforests have not grown in isolation but are the result of millions of years of species dispersal and continental exchange. Dr Rossetto collaborates with some of the world’s leaders in this field, adopting the latest technological developments to assist his research. Dr Rossetto’s research into the natural and assisted dispersal of the plants of our rainforests has been crucial in our overall understanding of their history, demise and ultimately our ability to preserve and rejuvenate what is left.     
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