Contact-image
Position
Research Scientist (Restoration Ecophysiology)
Address
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue
West Perth Western Australia 6005
Email
Phone
(+61 8) 9480 3639
Fax
(+61 8) 9480 3641

Key research interests

  • Understanding physiological traits enabling plant survival in native species.
  • Plant physiological responses to abiotic stress.
  • Developing physiological approaches for monitoring plant performance in restoration.

Other research interests

  • Optimising seedling establishment to encourage the use of native plants in Agricultural systems.
  • Enhancing abiotic stress tolerance in native plant seeds/seedlings.
  • Seed dormancy alleviation and germination stimulation of native and exotic (weed) species.

Academic background

Previous to my appointment at Kings Park and Botanic Garden in 2005 I completed my undergraduate and postgraduate through the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, University of Western Australia.

Honours Thesis: 'Differential root exudation of chickpea (Cicer arietinum) on different soils and its role in phosphorus acquisition'. Supervisors: Professor Hans Lambers and Dr Erik Veneklaas (University of Western Australia); Dr Kadambot Siddique and Dr Mike Bolland (Department of Agriculture Western Australia).

PhD Thesis: Physiological Investigation of Effects of Salicylic Acid on Abiotic and Biotic Stresses in Plants (with Special Reference to Salinity). Supervisors: Professor Krishnapillai Sivasithamparam (UWA) and Dr Tissa Senaratna (UWA and Kings Park and Botanic Gardens).

Major Projects

Since joining Kings Park Science in 2005 as a Research Scientist my major research projects have included the following:

Project: Using Plant Physiology to underpin successful Banksia woodland restoration.
Partner/s: Rocla Quarry Products
Timeline: 2006 - present.
Description: The overall objective is to use Plant Physiology to improve Banksia woodland restoration techniques. This project explores four major research areas including: (1) Exploring survival strategies in Banksias; (2) Understanding the seedling niche post sand extraction; (3) Enhancing the use of seed and seedlings; (4) Understanding Banksia seedling decline.

Project: Broad scale implementation of native grass germination enhancement technologies.
Partner/s: Native Seeds Pty Ltd. and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Timeline: 2009 - present.
Description: The overall aim of this proposed study is to improve opportunities to introduce native grasses, through developing and testing seed enhancement techniques, allowing for the rapid scaling-up of sowing of native grasses onto a broad-scale. This project will address two key concepts (1) determining the role of seed treatments in improving establishment of native grass species and (2) development of seed treatment technology to facilitate scaling-up of the research findings.

Project: Restoration Research Plan - Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited: Koolanooka, Blue Hills and Weld Range exploration lines.
Partner/s: Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited
Timeline: 2010 - present.
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 Luis Merino, Lucy Commander, Ben Miller, Ellery Mayence and Kingsley Dixon at BGPA.

Project: Ecophysiological study of Tetratheca aphylla for restoration.
Partner/s: Process Minerals International, Mineral Resources Limited; Polaris Metals NL, Western Australia
Timeline: 2009 - 2010.
Description: An integrated research program into the physiology, conservation and restoration of the rare plant species Tetratheca aphylla. Physiological studies provided information to underpin successful restoration of Tetratheca aphylla. Impacts of substrate and water availability on plant growth/ function were assessed on T. aphylla plant function.

Project: Grass Roots – native perennial grasses for sustainable pasture systems.
Partner/s: CRC for Plant-Based Management of Dryland Salinity (Dr Megan Ryan), Native Seeds Pty Ltd (Dr Ian Chivers), DPI Victoria (Dr Meredith Mitchell), DPI Queensland (Dr Kendrick Cox).
Timeline: 2006 - 2009.
Funding body: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Description: This project aimed to develop a national program to deliver seed-based solutions to overcome seed germination and establishment barriers for a profitable and productive broad-acre native perennial grass pasture and restoration industry. Species of interest included: Austrodanthonia sp., Bothriochloa macra, Chloris truncata, Dichanthium sericeum, Enteropogon acicularis, Microlaena stipoides and Themeda triandra. Innovative laboratory techniques were employed to address these barriers to successful native grass establishment. A collaborative project with Samantha Clarke and Kingsley Dixon at BGPA.

Project: Ecological Restoration of the Extension Hill Mine Waste Rock Dump.
Partner/s: Asia Iron Holdings (Extension Hill Pty Ltd) and Mt Gibson Iron
Timeline: 2007 - 2010.
Description: This program focused on examining the ecology, conservation and restoration of the rare plant species Darwinia masonii and Lepidosperma gibsonii. Species demography, fire response, small scale distribution patterns, environmental correlates and adaptations, soil water use, dust and drought ecophysiology, soil seed-banks, restoration requirements and modelling of population dynamics and viability in relation to fire frequency, climate variability and population fragmentation. A collaborative project with Ben Miller, Matt Barrett, Sacha Ruoss and Kingsley Dixon at BGPA.

Project: Improving establishment of commercial native plants through improved understanding of germination biology, moisture management and weed control.
Partner/s: Future Farm Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FFI CRC) in partnership with Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management (CENRM,UWA), Centre for Ecohydrology at Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA), South Australian Rural Development Institute (SARDI) and Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Victoria.
Timeline: 2007 - 2009.
Funding body: JVAP, Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation
Description: With increasing prospects for woody crops as a strategy of agricultural adaptation and environmental adjustment to changing conditions, the development of cost-effective and reliable methods for plant establishment are essential. The objective of the project was to develop a scientific understanding of the interactions of seed physiology, soil physical and chemical conditions and climates involved in seed establishment. Linked with field trials, this new knowledge resulted in significant gains for native plant establishment, particularly though improved reliability of direct seeding methods for fine-seeded native species (Melaleuca and Eucalyptus).

Project: Reliable establishment of non-traditional perennial pastures species.
Partner/s: DAFWA (Dr P. Nichols, Dr E.G Barrett-Lennard, G. Moore, Dr. R. Yates), CRC FFI (Dr M. Mitchell, Dr M. Ryan, Dr. D. Real), DPI Victoria (Dr M. Mitchell), DPI NSW (Dr G. Lodge), Charles Sturt University (Dr D. Kemp, Dr. A. Simmons).
Timeline: 2006 - 2010.
Funding body: Cooperative Research Centre for Future Farming Industries (CRC FFI), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Dept Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA).
Description: The objective of the research was to improve the establishment of a range of non-traditional perennial pasture and forage options, both native and exotic species, for Australian broadacre cereal and pastoral farming systems – to improve farm production, biodiversity and recharge management. Currently, there is an unacceptably high failure rate for establishment from seed of non-traditional perennial species, notably halophytic shrubs, native pastures and exotic warm season perennials.

Project: Improving the establishment of saltbushes (Atriplex spp.) on saltland – preliminary research.
Partner/s: Department of Food and Agriculture Western Australia (Dr Ed Barrett-Lennard)
Timeline: 2005
Funding body: Land and Water Australia, Sustainable Grazing on Saline Lands
Description: Direct seeding practices of saltbush (Atriplex sp) currently result in asynchronous and unreliable seedling establishment. In part this may stem from a poor understanding of seed germination requirements. This research focused on improving the establishment of three Atriplex species including A. amnicola (Paul G. Wilson.), A. nummularia (Lindl.), and A. undulata (D. Dietr), each of which have different germination characteristics. This study highlighted that a basic understanding of seed dormancy and germination requirements can significantly improve field emergence of two saltbush species. A collaborative project with Kingsley Dixon at BGPA.

Project: Releasing agricultural weed seed dormancy through application of a novel smoke derived chemical.
Partner/s: UWA (Gavin Flematti and Emilio Ghisalberti)
Timeline: 2005
Funding body: Grains Research and Development Corporation
Description: Inefficient use of herbicides has developed due to poor understanding of weed seedbank dynamics and seed biology, particularly seed dormancy. The key objective of this research is to develop karrikinolide as a tool for improving control of major weeds impacting the Australian grain industry. Field research under practical farming systems was supported by physiological studies to optimise karrikinolide efficacy, understand its mode of action and demonstrate proof of concept. Focus species included Brassicaceae weeds (wild radish, wild turnip etc) with further exploration identifying a broader suite of important weed species that respond to karrikinolide. A collaborative project with David Merritt and Kingsley Dixon at BGPA.

Research Associates and Students

Current

  • Dr Luis Merino Martin (Post doc 2012 – ongoing). Restoration Ecology – Soil Scientist. Restoration of Threatened Ecological Communities occurring on Banded Iron Formations. Co supervised with Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Dr Lucy Commander (Post doc 2012 – ongoing). Restoration Ecology – Seed Enabling Technologist. Restoration of Threatened Ecological Communities occurring on Banded Iron Formations. Co supervised with Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Stephen Benigno (PhD 2008-ongoing). The Ecophysiological Adaptations of Framework Banksia Woodland Species to Post-Minesite Stresses. Co supervised with Deanna Rokich and Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Rachael Ord (PhD 2008-ongoing). Post removal of Pinus pinaster plantations in Western Australia: Implications for reinstatement of Banksia woodland, a historical ecosystem assemblage. Co supervised with Shane Turner, Deanna Rokich and Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Cameron Mounsey (PhD 2010- ongoing). Understanding vegetation patch-gap dynamics to determine restoration success. Co supervised with Ben Miller and Kingsley Dixon (BGPA), Gavin McGrath and Christoph Hinz (UWA).
  • Sacha Ruoss (PhD 2008-ongoing). Restoration Ecology and Conservation of Rare Banded Ironstone Plants in an Arid Biodiversity Hotspot. Co supervised with Ben Miller, Matthew Barrett and Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Mark Bundock (PhD 2008- ongoing). Non-target impacts of herbicides and adjuvants used in Banksia woodland and Jarrah forest weed control. Co supervised with Kingsley Dixon and Deanna Rokich (BGPA).
  • Wolfgang Lewandrowsk (PhD 2011- ongoing). Optimising seed germination and early vigour to advantage direct seeding of Triodia species - an interaction of seed physiology and seedling ecophysiology. Co supervised with Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Shahab Nikabadi (PhD 2011- ongoing). Understanding the ecophysiology of trophic transition with micropropagated terrestrial orchids of the South-West Australian Floristic Region (SWAFR) for improving restoration success. Co supervised with Eric Bunn, Belinda Newman and Kingsley Dixon (BGPA) and Shane Turner (UWA).

Past

  • Erin Picken (Honours 2012). Defining Banded Iron Formation Communities for Restoration. Co supervised with Ben Miller (BGPA).
  • Marta Gorecki (Honours 2011). Maternal environment can change the germination with karrikinolide of the weed Brassica tournefortii. Co supervised with Rowena Long (UWA).
  • Wolfgang Lewendrowski (Honours 2011). Improving Greenstock Quality for Banksia woodland Restoration. Co supervised with Deanna Rokich (BGPA) and Rowena Long (UWA).
  • Christina Putz (Intl student 2011) – Understanding early seedling establishment drivers in Acacia hilliana in Pilbara minesite restoration and native soil substrates. Co supervised with Todd Erickson (BGPA).
  • Cameron Mounsey (Honours 2009). The roots of shallow soil endemic species are not better adapted to enter smaller pores than the roots of closely related congeners. Co supervised with Ben Miller (BGPA).
  • Andrew Naskos (Honours 2009). Germination requirements and seed enhancements to improve the broadacre restoration of Acacia acinacea, Enchylaena tomentosa and Einadia nutans. Co supervised with Christopher Loo (BGPA).
  • Navjot Kuar. (Assoc. Diploma 2009). Using ecotypic germination traits of an Australian native grass (Microlaena stipoides) to identify target environments for new perennial pastures species. Co supervised with Christopher Loo (BGPA).
  • Liann Smithson (Honours 2009). Physiological Strategies for Surviving Drought in Endemic Banded Iron Formation Habitats. Co supervised with Ben Miller (BGPA) and Pieter Poot (UWA).
  • Simone Tausch (Intl student 2008) – Understanding soil compaction effects on early seedling establishment in Banksia woodland species.
  • Robert Aldermann (Honours 2008). Karrikinolide stimulates germination of some important agricultural weeds. Co supervised with Michael Renton (UWA) and Stephen Powles (UWA, WAHRI).
  • Erin Griffiths (Honours 2008). Nutrient regimes for improving the out-planting success of three Banksia woodland species.
  • Jemma Marris (Honours 2008). Root foraging and drought tolerance traits of two shallow soil endemic species. Co supervised with Ben Miller (BGPA).
  • Christopher Loo (Post-doc 2006-2009). Reliable establishment of non-traditional native pasture species. Co supervised with Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).
  • Samantha Clarke (2006-2007). Grass roots - native perennial grasses for sustainable pasture systems. Co supervised with Kingsley Dixon (BGPA).

Publications

Refereed publications

1. Stephen Benigno, Greg Cawthray, Kingsley Dixon, Jason Stevens (2012). Reduced root elongation in mechanically impeded restored soils is caused by soil physical strength and not excess ethylene. Plant Growth Regulation. DOI: 10.1007/s10725-012-9714-2.
2. M.J. Gorecki, R.L. Long, G.R Flematti and Stevens J.C. (2011). Parental environment changes the germination response of Brassica tournefortii seeds to karrikinolide. Annals of Botany (DOI 10.1093/aob/mcs067).
3. Rowena Long, Jason Stevens, David Merritt, Erin Griffiths, Markus Adamek, Steve Powles, Kingsley Dixon (2011). Detecting karrikinolide responses in grass seeds. Australian Journal of Botany 59 (7): 610-620.
4. Rowena L Long, Jason C Stevens, Erin M Griffiths, Markus Adamek, Marta J Gorecki, Stephen B Powles and David J Merritt (2011). Seeds of Brassicaceae weeds have an inherent or inducible response to the germination-stimulant karrikinolide. Annals of Botany 108: 933-44.
5. Shahab Nikabadi, Eric Bunn, Shane Turner, Jason Stevens, Kingsley Dixon. (2010). Development of an in vitro propagation protocol for ex situ conservation of two critically endangered species of Commersonia (Malvaceae) from Western Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 58 (7) 565 – 574.
6. Rowena Long, Kimberlyn Williams, Erin Griffiths, Gavin Flematti, David Merritt, Jason Stevens, Shane Turner, Stephen Powles, and Kingsley Dixon (2010). Prior hydration of Brassica tournefortii seeds reduces the stimulatory effect of karrikinolide on germination and increases seed sensitivity to abscisic acid. Annals of Botany 105 (6): 1063-1070.
7. Sheila Chiwocha; Kingsley Dixon; Gavin Flematti; Emilio Ghisalberti; David Merritt; David Nelson; Julie-Anne Riseborough; Steven Smith; Jason Stevens (2009). Karrikins: a new family of plant growth regulators in smoke. Plant Science 177 (4): 252-256.
8. David C. Nelson, Julie-Anne Riseborough, Gavin R. Flematti, Jason Stevens, Emilio L. Ghisalberti, Kingsley W. Dixon and Steven M. Smith (2009). Karrikins discovered in smoke trigger Arabidopsis seed germination by a mechanism requiring gibberellic acid synthesis and light. Plant Physiology 149 (2) 863-873.
9. J.C. Stevens, D.J. Merritt, G.R. Flematti, E.L. Ghisalberti and K.W. Dixon (2007). Seed germination of agricultural weeds is promoted by the butenolide 3-methyl-2H-furo[2,3-c]pyran-2-one under laboratory and field conditions. Plant and Soil DOI 10.1007/s11104-007-9344-z.
10. Senaratna T, Stevens J, Senaratna M, Kayakannan M, Sivasithamparam K (2007) Salicylic acid (2-hydroxy Benzoic acid) induces salinity tolerance in a variety of genetically diverse plant taxa. Physiol. Mol. Biol. Plants 13 (1), 53-56.
11. J.C. Stevens, E.G. Barrett-Lennard and K.W. Dixon (2007). Enhancing the germination of three fodder shrubs (Atriplex amnicola, A. nummularia, A. undulata; Chenopodiaceae): implications for the optimisation of field establishment. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research. 57 (12), 1279-1289.
12. Jason Stevens; Tissa Senaratna; Krishnapillai Sivasithamparam (2006). Salicylic acid induces salinity tolerance in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum cv. Roma): associated changes in gas exchange, water relations and membrane stabilization. Plant Growth Regulation. 49(1). 77-83.
13. Veneklaas, Erik J; Stevens, Jason; Cawthray, Gregory R; Turner, Stephen; Grigg, Alasdair M; Lambers, Hans (2003). Chickpea and white lupin rhizosphere carboxylates vary with soil properties and enhance phosphorus uptake. Plant & Soil. 248(1-2) 187-197.

Industry publications

1. P.G.H. Nichols, R.J. Yates, C. Loo, B. Wintle, J.W. Titterington, E.G. Barrett-Lennard, J.C. Stevens, K.W. Dixon and G.A. Moore (2012). Establishment of sub-tropical perennial grasses in South-Western Australia. Technical Report 9, First Edition February 2012. Future Farm Industries CRC, Perth, Western Australia. ISBN: 978-0-9871562-2-8. ISSN: 1837-686.
2. P.G.H. Nichols, R.J. Yates, C. Loo, J.C. Stevens, J.W. Titterington, B. Wintle, G.A. Moore, K.W. Dixon and E.G. Barrett-Lennard (2012). Direct Seeding of chenopod shrubs for saltland and rangeland environments. Future Farm Industries CRC Technical Bulletin. In press.
3. S. Clarke, J. Stevens, M. Ryan, M.Mitchell, I. Chivers and K.Dixon (2010). Native Perennial Grasses for Sustainable Pasture Systems. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. Publication No. 10/146.
4. C. Loo, A. Robinson, R. Cripp, L. Thomson, S. Tausch and J. Stevens (2010). Improving Germination in Five Woody Perennial Species. In: Improving the Direct Sowing of Commercial Native Plants in Agricultural Lands of Southern Australia Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. Publication No.10/061.
5. J.C Stevens and K.W.Dixon (2005). Releasing agricultural weed seed dormancy through application of a novel smoke derived chemical. Grains Research and Development Corporation. Project Code: BGP00001.

Conference proceedings

1. Rowena Long, Jason Stevens, Erin Griffiths, Markus Adamek, Stephen Powles and David Merritt (2011) .In the line of fire: deciphering why some grasses respond to smoke-derived germination-stimulants whilst others do not. Poster 18th International Botanical Congress - Melbourne Australia 23 - 30 July 2011.
2. Marta Gorecki, Rowena Long, Jason Stevens (2011). Tough Love: how drought in the maternal environment affects seed dormancy. Poster 18th International Botanical Congress - Melbourne Australia 23 - 30 July 2011.
3. Ruoss, Sacha; Ben Miller, Jason Stevens, Mathew Barrett, Kingsley Dixon (2011) Restoration of three rare plant species in semi-arid Australia. 20th Annual Meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration: Mérida, Mexico, August 21-25, 2011.
4. Ord, Rachael; D. Rokich, J. Stevens, S. Turner, K.W. Dixon (2011). Restoring biodiverse Mediterranean woodland communities after pine forestry in Western Australia. 20th Annual Meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration: Mérida, Mexico, August 21-25, 2011.
5. Erickson, Todd; D. J. Merritt, S. R. Turner, J. C. Stevens, P. J Ainsley, K. W. Dixon (2011). Seed farming in the arid zone: Overcoming difficulties in sourcing and germinating Triodia seeds for mine-site restoration. 20th Annual Meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration: Mérida, Mexico, August 21-25, 2011.
6. Rowena Long, Erin Griffiths, Jason Stevens, David Merritt, Kingsley Dixon and Stephen Powles (2010). Smoking out the enemy: triggering agricultural weeds to germinate with karrikinolide. Seventeenth Australasian Weeds Conference. Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand. 26-30 September 2010.
7. Ord, RC, DP Rokich, SR Turner, J Stevens and KW Dixon (2011) Restoring Banksia woodland communities after pine forestry in a biodiversity hotspot, Western Australia. 96th Annual Ecological Society of America Meeting 7th – 12th August. Austin Texas.
8. Ord, RC, DP Rokich, SR Turner, J Stevens and KW Dixon (2010) Restoring natural communities after pine forestry. 7th SER European Conference Ecological restoration and sustainable development - Establishing links across frontiers. 23rd – 27th August 2010 Avignon, France.
9. Sacha Ruoss, Ben Miller, Jason Stevens, Matthew Barrett, Kingsley Dixon (2009). Restoration ecology and conservation of rare banded ironstone endemic plants in an arid biodiversity hotspot. 19th Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration International. Perth Western Australia, Australia.
10. Rachael Ord, Deanna Rokich, Shane Turner, Jason Stevens, Kingsley Dixon (2009). Post removal of Pinus pinaster plantations in Western Australia: implications for re-instatement of Banksia woodland, a historical ecosystem assemblage. 19th Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration International. Perth Western Australia, Australia.
11. Stephen Benigno, Jason Stevens, Deanna Rokich, Christoph Hinz and Kingsley Dixon (2009). Ecophysiological adaptations of framework Banksia Woodland species to drought and soil compaction stresses in post mine site restoration. 19th Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration International. Perth Western Australia, Australia.
12. J.C. Stevens, D.J. Merritt, G.R. Flematti, E.L. Ghisalberti and K.W. Dixon (2007). Optimising Karrikinolide (KAR1) stimulated germination of weed and native soil seed banks. Seed Ecology II – The second international Society for Seed Science Meeting on Seeds and the Environment. Perth Western Australia September 2007.
13. Clarke S, Stevens J, Ryan M, Mitchell M, Chivers I, Dixon KW (2007) Enhancing native perennial grass germination for sustainable pasture systems. In 'Proceedings of the 5th Stipa national native grasses conference on the management of native grasses and pastures.' Mudgee NSW. (Ed. C O'Dwyer) pp. 49-56. (FLFR University of Melbourne).