- PhD Candidate
- (+61 8) 9480 3917
- (+61 8) 9480 3641
- Rare Plant Conservation
- Restoration ecology
- Plant Ecophysiology
- Soil Seed Bank Dynamics
- Ecology of Semi-Arid Communities
- Ecology of Banded Ironstone Formation (BIF) Communities
Prior to commencing my PhD in January 2008 at Kings Parks and Botanic Garden and The University of Western Australia, I completed my BSc with 1st Class Honours in Environmental Biology at Curtin University of Technology. My honours project was entitled: 'Investigation of Root Nodule Bacteria of Acacia acuminata, a preferred host of Santalum spicatum a hemi-parasitic tree' which was ably supervised by Dr Elizabeth Watkin (Curtin), Dr Lesley Mutch (Curtin), Dr Liz Barbour (Forest Products Commission) and Professor John Fox (Curtin).
Title: Restoration Ecology and Conservation of Rare Banded Ironstone Plants in an Arid Biodiversity Hotspot
University: School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia
Supervisors: Professor Kingsley Dixon (BGPA/UWA), Dr Ben Miller (BGPA), Dr Jason Stevens (BGPA) and Dr Matt Barrett (BGPA)
Project description: The conservation of rare endemic Banded Ironstone Formation (BIF) plants in the Mid West is critical to maintaining biodiversity in Western Australia. There are approximately 30 resource development proposals or projects in Western Australia relating to mining haematite or magnetite ore associated with BIF ranges in the Mid West. Of these 30 mines or proposals the majority have associated rare and/or endemic plant species that pose significant economic impediments to mining approval/mine-path planning. Biodiversity conservation in the Mid West is becoming increasingly apparent, as only in the last 10 years has there been any scientific investigations into documenting the biodiversity in semi-arid areas. The management of rare endemic plant species that occur on BIF is also of upmost importance in maintaining biodiversity in the region and facilitating the right to mine for resource developers.
This research program has been devised to fast-track conservation research that is critical to ensuring attainment of the dual objectives of resource development combined with sustainable conservation of the unique biodiversity of BIF. The project area is based on the biodiversity epi-centre at the Mt Gibson mining area, 350 km NE of Perth.
The site shot to prominence in 2005 due to the presence of two declared rare species, a mountain bell (Darwinia masonii) and native sedge (Lepidosperma gibsonii) that are nationally threatened species restricted to the 6 km range. The Mt Gibson area in general is also very high in biodiversity value due to its transitional position between the arid zone and moister south-west, a so-called, ‘ecological tension’ zone. The fast-track research program is based on an innovative approach to understanding key aspects of the role of water harvesting in maintaining the ecophysiological competitiveness of the two species based on preliminary research that these species are predominately water limited, rather than the more traditional approach of being nutrient limited. The outcomes of the ecophysiological research will then be directly implemented through a process of ‘adaptive management’ where decisions are made on the basis of the lessons learnt from research through a direct link to the mining operations.
The research findings from the ecophysiological research program then forms the basis of formulating an integrated approach to managing soil seed banks and devising effective restoration protocols for the threatened study species. The innovation in the research program derives from being the first research program of its type to directly link ecophysiology of rare species to restoration outcomes in a biodiversity rich site undergoing resource development.
The research will provide a template for undertaking similar fast-track research for the Mid West where conflicts exist between resource development and biodiversity values thus providing scientifically robust, knowledge-based decisions form an integral part of the resolution of these conflicts.
Funding: Australian Postgraduate Award