Dr Ben Miller
- Research Scientist (Conservation Rare Flora)
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue West Perth Western Australia 6005
- (+61 8) 9480 3631
- (+61 8) 9480 3641
- Rare plant conservation
- Restoration ecology
- Plant community ecology
- Plant population ecology
- Spatial ecology
- Fire ecology
- Seed dispersal
- Species distributions
- Ecology of SW WA sandplain shrublands (Kwongan)
- Ecology of Banded Iron Formation (BIF) communities
- Ecology of North African Juniper woodlands
Following an honours project investigating patterns of plant species diversity and community composition in fire-prone heathy woodlands at Mt Zero in western Victoria, I commenced a PhD, also at the University of Melbourne, and moved to Mexico City. Based at the Centro de Ecología at UNAM in Mexico City, and with field sites at the Los Tuxtlas (Veracruz) and Chajul (Chiapas) tropical rainforest field stations, I studied the demographic and ecological strategies of rainforest palms, focusing on Chamaedorea oblongata and C. pinnatifrons (thesis title: 'Life history variation in co-existing, Mexican rain-forest understorey palms').
In 1999, I took up a research position at the University of Melbourne working on projects across the fields of plant community and population ecology, plant demography, fire ecology, spatial ecology, restoration ecology, soil seedbanks, and local- and long-distance seed dispersal. These projects were located in diverse ecosystems - from Box-Ironbark forest in western Victoria and fire-prone, species-rich heathland communities at Eneabba in SW WA to hyper-arid limestone mountain systems in southern Pakistan (Khirthar National Park) and sub-tropical maquis shrublands and montane rainforests with emergent Araucaria in New Caledonia.
Maintaining interests in several of these projects, I moved to Kings Park in 2007, to commence research on the ecology of rare plant species in WA. Focusing on the Declared Rare Flora species Darwinia masonii (Myrtaceae) and Lepidosperma gibsonii (Cyperaceae) which are endemic to the 8 km long Banded Iron Formation (BIF) Extension Hill – Mt Gibson range. Part of this range has government approval for an iron ore mine. This research involved studies of the environmental, physiological and geographical limits to growth, the interactions of population dynamics with environmental variation and fire history, and requirements for restoration in a post-mining environment.
Combining these interests in restoration ecology, Mediterranean-climate and semi-arid shrublands, seed ecology, conifer population ecology and distribution modelling I have commenced a new project focussing on restoring declining woodlands of Juniperus phoenicea in northern Cyrenaica, Libya. This project – a collaboration between BGPA, Murdoch University (tree health), the WA Department of Agriculture, Omar Mukhtar University and the Libyan Ministry for Agriculture, Animal and Marine Wealth – additionally includes strong research components in the areas of remote sensing, ecophysiology, denroecology and plant pathogens.
(2011 - current) A program of studies on the population ecology, seed biology, propagation and restoration requirements of Juniperus phoenicea in Jebel Akhdar, NE Libya and in association with complimentary studies investigating cause and mitigation of their decline. This is a three year project funded by the Libyan Ministry for Agriculture, Animal and Marine Wealth and operated through the WA Department of Agriculture. With Kingsley Dixon (BGPA) and Giles Hardy (Murdoch University).
(2007-2010) An integrated research program into the ecology, conservation and restoration of the rare plant species Darwinia masonii and Lepidosperma gibsonii. Includes examination of their population ecology, fire response, species distribution patterns, environmental correlates and adaptations, soil water use, ecophysiology, seed dispersal, soil seed-banks and restoration requirements. With Matt Barrett, Kingsley Dixon and Jason Stevens at BGPA, funded by Asia Iron Holdings (Extension Hill Pty Ltd) and Mt Gibson Iron.
(2006 - 2010) Impacts of short-interval fire-regimes on species-rich, Mediterranean-type shrublands. Examines changes in plant community richness and composition, fuels and fire traits in areas of sandplain and limestone heath before, during and after experimental fires in vegetation of varying (but short) time since fire. Also assessing methods for reconstructing historic fire-regimes. An ARC funded project with DEC Mid-West region and Neal Enright (Murdoch University).
(2005 - 2009) Quantifying long-distance seed dispersal and its role in the metapopulation dynamics of plants with contrasting life histories. Examining dispersal of wind and ant-dispersal adapted seeds, including studies of wind vortices (willy willys) and seed aerodynamic properties. An ARC Linkage project with Siegy Krauss and He Tianhua (BGPA), Byron Lamont (Curtin Uni) and N. Enright.
(2003 - 2007) Mechanisms of plant species co-existence in species-rich ecosystems: testing hypotheses using spatially-explicit field data and computer models. Examining local scale spatial ecology, competition and herbivory in fire-prone shrublands at Eneabba (SW WA). An ARC project with N. Enright, B. Lamont, George Perry (Auckland University) and Florian Jeltsch (Potsdam University).
(2005 - 2007) Successful rehabilitation of species-rich heathlands after mining for heavy minerals. Examining the role of spatial pattern and fire in restoration of species-rich shrubland communities following sand-mining at Eneabba (WA). An ARC Linkage project with Illuka Resources and N. Enright and B. Lamont.
32. Esther A, Groeneveld J, Enright NJ, Miller BP, Lamont BB, Perry GLW, Tietjen B and Jeltsch F (2010) Low-dimensional trade-offs fail to explain richness and structure in species-rich plant communities. Theoretical Ecology In press
31. Miller BP, Enright NJ, Perry GLW and Lamont BB (2010) Contrasting spatial pattern and pattern-forming processes in natural versus restored shrublands. Journal of Applied Ecology 47: 701–709
30. Perry GLW, Groeneveld J and Miller BP (2010) Development, application and place of neutral theory in ecology and biogeography. Geography Compass 4(8): 904–918
29. Esther A, Groeneveld J, Enright NJ, Miller BP, Lamont BB, Perry GLW, Blanki FB and Jeltsch F (2010) Sensitivity of plant functional types to climate change: Classification tree analysis of a simulation model. Journal of Vegetation Science 21: 447–461
28. Herath D, Lamont BB, Enright NJ and Miller BP (2009) Comparison of postmine rehabilitated and natural shrubland communities in southwestern Australia. Restoration Ecology 17: 577–585
27. He TH, Lamont BB, Krauss SL, Enright NJ & Miller BP (2009) Long-distance dispersal of seed in the fire-tolerant shrub Banksia attenuata. Ecography 32: 571–580
26. Herath D, Lamont BB, Enright NJ and Miller BP (2009) Impact of fire on plant-species persistence in post-mine restored and natural shrubland communities in southwestern Australia. Biological Conservation 142: 2175–2180
25. Perry GLW, Enright NJ, Miller BP, Lamont BB and Etienne RS (2009) Dispersal, edaphic fidelity, and speciation in species-rich Western Australian shrublands: evaluating a neutral model of biodiversity Oikos 118: 1349–62
24. Krauss SL, He TH, Barrett L, Lamont BB, Enright NJ, Miller BP & Hanley ME (2009) Contrasting impacts of pollen and seed dispersal on spatial genetic structure in the bird-pollinated Banksia hookeriana. Heredity 102: 274–285
23. Perry GLW, Enright NJ, Miller BP and Lamont, BB (2009) Nearest-neighbour interactions in species-rich shrublands: the roles of abundance, spatial patterns and resources. Oikos 118: 161–174
22. He TH, Lamont BB, Krauss SL, Enright NJ, Miller BP and Gove AA (2008) Ants cannot account for inter-population dispersal of the arillate pea Daviesia triflora. New Phytologist 181: 725–733
21. He TH, Lamont BB, Krauss SL, Enright NJ and Miller BP (2008) Covariation between intraspecific genetic diversity and species diversity within a plant functional group. Journal of Ecology 96: 956–961
20. Esther A, Groeneveld J, Enright NJ, Miller BP, Lamont BB, Perry GLW, Schurr FM and Jeltsch F (2008) Assessing the importance of seed immigration on coexistence of plant functional types in a species rich ecosystem. Ecological Modelling 213: 402-416
19. Perry GLW, Enright NJ, Miller BP and Lamont, BB (2008) Spatial patterns in species-rich Mediterranean-type shrublands of south-western Australia. Journal of Vegetation Science 19: 705-716
18. Miller BP, Walshe T, Enright NJ, and Lamont BB (2007) Error in the inference of fire history from grass trees. Austral Ecology 32: 908-916
17. Miller BP, Enright NJ, and Lamont BB (2007) Range contraction, real and imagined, in Banksia hookeriana, a restricted endemic shrub of south-western Australia. Diversity and Distributions 13: 406-417
16. Enright NJ, Mosner E, Miller BP, Johnson N and Lamont BB (2007) Patterns of soil versus canopy seed storage and plant species coexistence in species-rich shrublands of southwestern Australia. Ecology 88: 229-230
15. Enright NJ and Miller BP (2007) Livestock Grazing Impacts on Desert Vegetation, Khirthar National Park, Pakistan. Rangeland Ecology and Management 60: 680-684
14. Perry GLW, Miller BP and Enright NJ (2006) A comparison of methods for the statistical analysis of spatial point patterns in plant ecology. Plant Ecology 187: 59-82
13. Enright NJ, Lamont BB and Miller BP (2006) Commentary: Anomalies in grass tree fire history reconstructions for southwestern Australian vegetation: Reply from Enright NJ, Lamont BB and Miller BP Austral Ecology 31: 792-793
12. Krauss SL, He TH, Lamont BB, Miller BP, and Enright (2006) Late Quaternary climate change and spatial genetic structure in the shrub Banksia hookeriana. Molecular Ecology 15: 1125-1137
11. Enright NJ, Lamont BB and Miller BP (2005) Anomalies in grass tree fire history reconstructions for south-western Australian vegetation. Austral Ecology 30: 668-673
10. Enright NJ, Miller BP and Akhter R (2005) Desert vegetation and vegetation-environment relationships in Khirthar National Park, Sindh, Pakistan. Journal of Arid Environments 61: 397-418
9. Comino E, Miller BP and Enright NJ (2004) Soil seedbanks in natural and restored box ironbark forests at Stawell Gold Mine, Victoria. Pacific Conservation Biology 10: 9-20
8. Enright NJ, He T, Krauss SL, Lamont BB and Miller BP (2004) Genetic variation and biogeographic history in the restricted southwestern Australian shrub, Banksia hookeriana. Physical Geography (special issue on Geogenetics) 24: 358-77.
7. He, TH, Krauss SL, Lamont BB, Miller BP, and Enright NJ (2004) Long distance seed dispersal in a metapopulation of Banksia hookeriana inferred from a population allocation analysis of AFLP data. Molecular Ecology 13: 1099-1109
6. Chiarucci A, Enright NJ, Perry GLW, Miller BP and Lamont, BB (2003) Performance of non-parametric species richness estimators in a high diversity plant community. Diversity and Distributions 9: 283-295
5. Enright NJ, Miller BP and Perry, GLW (2003) Growth, survivorship and recruitment of the New Caledonian conifer Agathis ovata (Araucariaceae) in rainforest and maquis. Journal of Vegetation Science 14:625-636
4. Brown J, Enright NJ and Miller BP (2003) Seed production and germination in two rare and three common, co-occurring Acacia species from SE Australia Austral Ecology 28: 271-280.
3. Lamont BB, He TH, Enright NJ, Krauss SL and Miller BP (2003) Anthropogenic disturbance promotes hybridization between Banksia species by altering their biology. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 16: 551-557
2. Rigg LS, Enright NJ, Perry GLW and Miller BP (2002) The role of cloud combing and shading by isolated trees in the succession from maquis to rain forest in New Caledonia. Biotropica 34: 199-210
1. Enright NJ, Miller BP and Crawford A (1994) Environmental correlates of vegetation patterns and species richness in the northern Grampians, Victoria. Australian Journal of Ecology 19: 159-168.
Major reports and proceedings
3. Enright NJ, Groeneveld J, Lamont BB and Miller BP (2005) Grass tree reconstructions of pre-European fire regimes and models Banksia (Proteaceae) species co-existence in the northern sandplain shrublands of southwestern Australia: are they compatible? In Walshe TV and Williams JE (editors) 2005. Variability in fire interval. How important is it and how do we manage for it? Proceedings of a workshop held 26 September 2003, Albany Western Australia. University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia.
2. Esplin B, Gill M and Enright NJ (2003) Report of the Enquiry into the 2002-2003 Victorian Bushfires. State Government of Victorian (Contributions)
1. Enright NJ and Miller BP (2000) Khirthar National Park Baseline Environmental Study: Flora. Report submitted to Sind Wildlife Department, Karachi, Pakistan. 128p