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Research Scientist (Fire Ecology)
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(+61 8) 9480 3691

I am an ecologist undertaking research on forest health and restoration. My research interests cover investigating the impacts of climate change; in particular, drought and heat induced forest die-off, and I am interested in finding methods of improving the restoration success of disused mine sites, and increasing the regeneration capacity of degraded woodlands.

Research themes

  • Forest ecology – climate change impacts
  • Fire ecology – fire regimes and management
  • Restoration – post-mining, degraded forests and woodland ecosystems
  • Plant ecology – animal-plant-fungi interactions

Major projects

  • Wicked problems: optimising fire management for a resilient future. The effect of fire interval, season and weed control on the resilience of Banksia Woodlands (2016 - 2020). ARC Linkage Project LP160100996. Collaborators: Prof Neal Enright, Dr Joe Fontaine (Murdoch University), Dr Ben Miller (BGPA). Industry partner: BGPA
  • Harnessing the microbes associated with soil water repellency to enhance plant survival and growth (2017 - 2018). Collaborators: Dr Anna Hopkins (ECU), Prof Graham O’Hara (Murdoch University), Sunil Misra, Dr Paul Storer (Troforte Innovations). Industry Partner: Troforte Innovations.
  • The role of digging mammals in ecosystem function and landscape restoration (2012 - current). Collaborators: Dr Leonie Valentine, Prof Richard Hobbs (UWA; NESP – Threatened Species Recovery), Dr Anna Hopkins (ECU), Dr Trish Fleming, Dr Shannon Dundas (Murdoch University).

Visit the Ecosystem Ecology section to learn more about the current and past projects.

Selected publications

Hoffmann AA, Rymer PD, Byrne M, Ruthrof KX, Whinam J, McGeoch M, Bergstrom D, Guerin GR, Sparrow B, Joseph L, Hill SJ, Andrew NR, Camac J, Bell N, Riegler M, Gardner JL and Williams SE (2019) Impacts of recent climate change on terrestrial flora and fauna: some emerging Australian examples. Austral Ecology. DOI:10.1111/aec.12674.

Hopkins AJM (co), Ruthrof KX (co), Fontaine JB, Matusick G and Hardy G (2018) Forest die-off following global-change-type drought alters rhizosphere fungal communities. Environmental Research Letters Special Issue: focus on tree mortality in a warming world: causes, patterns, and implications. 13(9), 095006. org/10.1088/1748-9326/aadc19. 

Ruthrof KX, Breshears DD, Fontaine JB, Froend R, Matusick G, Kala J, Miller BP, Mitchell P, Wilson S, van Keulen M, Enright NJ, Law DJ, Wernberg T and Hardy G (2018) Subcontinental heat wave triggers terrestrial and marine, multi-taxa responses. Scientific Reports. 8(1), 13094. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-31236-5.

Valentine LE, Ruthrof KX, Fleming PA and Hardy G (2018) Bioturbation by bandicoots facilitates seedling growth by altering soil properties. Functional Ecology. 32(9): 2138-2148. org/10.1111/1365-2435.13179.

Ruthrof KX, Fontaine JB, Hopkins AJM, McHenry MP, O’Hara G, McComb J, Hardy GEStJ and Howieson J (2018) Potassium amendment increases biomass and reduces heavy metal concentrations in Lablab purpureus after phosphate mining. Land Degradation and Development. 29(3): 398-407. DOI:10.1002/ldr.2866.



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