Research Scientist (Restoration Ecology)
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue
West Perth Western Australia 6005
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(+61 8) 9480 3969
(+61 8) 9480 3641

Research interests

  • Restoration ecology
  • Ecohydrology of semiarid environments
  • Ecological succession
  • Soil erosion
  • Ecohydrology of Banded Iron Formation (BIF) communities

Academic background

I completed my BSc in Environmental Sciences in 2004 at Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid, Spain. After that, I did an MSc in Life Sciences at the same university with a Thesis entitled: ‘Ecological succession on restored slopes under Mediterranean continental climate’ in 2007. Following the MSc I obtained a PhD in 2010. During my PhD I studied the interaction between vegetation and overland flow and its relationships with ecological succession patterns, focusing on the effects of overland flow routing along the slope on these interrelationships (thesis title: Ecology of restored slopes from opencast coal mining: ecological interactions).

In 2010, I obtained a postdoctoral fellowship for a two year research project from the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation for Spanish citizens in foreign countries (MAEC-AECID) to carry out the project: 'Participatory research project: Cloud forest conservation initiative, Uspantán, Quiché, Guatemala'. The project area is among the poorest and most underdeveloped regions of Guatemala and is suffering severe deforestation that has compromised the area’s biodiversity, ecological resources, and socio-economic potential. In this project, we established cooperative relationships with eight Indigenous 'conservation communities' to promote the sustainable use and conservation of forest resources through progressive social initiatives and performed the first forest inventory in the pristine cloud forest of Cerro El Amay.

Still collaborating with these previous research projects, I moved to Kings Park in 2012. At Kings Park, I work on a restoration project in Koolanooka Hills, located in the Midwest on the edge of the Wheatbelt. In this project, we work in partnership with Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited (SMC) in a Banded Ironstone Formation where the challenge is to restore a threatened ecological community. At Koolanooka we are undertaking innovative research to study interactions between seed ecology and soil conditions under different climate scenarios.

Current Project

Title: Restoration of Banded-Ironstone communities in the Midwest - Koolanooka, Blue Hills and Weld Range exploration lines.

Partner: Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited

Description: This research aims to provide effective restoration of vegetation communities at Koolanooka, Blue Hills and Weld Range, and details a program for this research. The project will use research outcomes to (a) minimise the disturbance to, or loss of, the Threatened Ecological Community 'Plant assemblages of the Koolanooka System' and the 'Blue Hills vegetation complex' Priority Ecological Community, and (b) re-establish flora and vegetation with not less than 70 percent of the known original species diversity. A collaborative project with Lucy Commander, Ben Miller, Ellery Mayence, Jason Stevens and Kingsley Dixon at BGPA.


  • Clare Courtauld (Honours 2013) Seed Ecology of Semi-Arid Western Australian Species for Restoration of a Threatened Ecological Community.
  • Dylan Martini (Honours 2013) Why do Banksia menziesii seedlings in post-mining restoration experience high mortality during their second summer?


Refereed articles

6. Merino-Martín, L., Moreno-de las Heras, S., Espigares, T., Nicolau, J.M. (2012). Hydrological heterogeneity in mediterranean-dry reclaimed landscapes: runoff and sediment yield of patches and slopes along a gradient of overland flow. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS) 16: 1305-1320, doi:10.5194/hess-16-1305-2012.

5. Espigares, T., Merino-Martín, L., Moreno-de las Heras, M., Nicolau, J.M. (2012). Intensity of ecohydrological interactions in reclaimed Mediterranean slopes: effects of runoff redistribution on plant performance. Ecohydrology. Accepted on July, 26th 2012.

4. Merino-Martín, L., Breshears, D. D., Moreno-de las Heras, M., Villegas J. C., Pérez S., Espigares, T., Nicolau, J.M. (2012). Ecohydrological interrelationships between vegetation patches and soil hydrological properties along a disturbance gradient: how sources and sinks of runoff determine a restoration threshold. Restoration Ecology 20(3):360-368.

3. Moreno-de las Heras, M., Espigares, T., Merino-Martín, L., Nicolau, J.M. (2011). Water-related ecological impacts of soil erosion processes in Mediterranean-dry reclaimed slopes. Catena 84: 114-124.

2. Moreno-de las Heras, M., Wilcox, B. P., Merino-Martín, L., Nicolau, J.M. (2010). Scale dependency of slope runoff and erosion along a gradient of degradation. Water Resources Research. W04503 10.1029/2009wr007875.

1. Moreno-de las Heras, M., Merino-Martín, L., Nicolau, J.M. (2009). Effect of vegetation cover on the reclaimed mining soils under Mediterranean-Continental climate. Catena 77: 39–47.

Book chapters

2. Nicolau, J.M., Espigares, T., Merino-Martín, L., Moreno-de las Heras, M., Nyssen, S., Pérez-Domingo, S. (2009). Sobre la compatibilidad de la minería del carbón a cielo abierto con la sostenibilidad ambiental. El caso de las cuencas de Teruel. In: Evaluación del impacto y restauración ambiental de la cuenca mineral de El Bierzo (Vadillo F. ed.) IGME (Madrid, España).

1. Nicolau, J.M., Espigares, T., Moreno-de las Heras, M., Merino-Martín, L. (2011). Ecohidrología: erosión hídrica y dinámica de la vegetación en laderas artificiales. In: Restauración ecológica de áreas afectadas por infraestructuras de transporte. Bases científicas para soluciones técnicas (Fernando Valladares, Luis Balaguer, Ignacio Mola, Adrián Escudero and Valentín Alfaya eds.). Fundación Biodiversidad, Madrid, España. ©Fundación Biodiversidad 2011.