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Position
Research Scientist (Fire Ecology)
Address
Biodiversity Conservation Centre
Kattidj Close
Kings Park Western Australia 6005
Phone
(+61 8) 9480 3691

Research themes

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

Academic background

  • 2002 PhD, University of Western Australia. Thesis title: Comparative ecology of an invasive eucalypt (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) and two endemic eucalypts (gomphocephala and E. marginata) in an urban bushland in south-western Australia. Supervisors: Dr William Loneragan, Dr Colin Yates, Dr Ray Wills.
  • 1996 Bachelor of Science (Hons), Murdoch University. Honours Thesis title: Improving the success of limestone quarry revegetation. Industry Partner: Cockburn Cement Ltd. Supervisor: Dr Richard Bell.

Major projects

Current

  • 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).

Past

  • Transition from phosphate mining to an economically, environmentally and socially viable agricultural industry on Christmas Island. ARC Linkage Project LP140100690 (2015 - 2017). Collaborators: Prof Giles Hardy, Prof Graham O’Hara, Prof John Howieson, Jennifer McComb (Murdoch University), Joy Wickenden (Phosphate Resources Limited) Mariangela Hungria (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation). Industry Partner: Phosphate Resources Limited).
  • Interacting disturbances: consequences for forests and carbon (2016 - 2017). Collaborators: Dr Joe Fontaine, Prof Richard Harper, Prof Giles Hardy, Lewis Walden (Murdoch University), Dr George Matusick (Auburn University).
  • Impacts of digging mammals on litter (2015 - 2016). Collaborators: Dr Anna Hopkins, Dr Shannon Dundas, Dr Trish Fleming (Murdoch University).
  • Enhancing plant survival and growth in an unpredictable future through soil specific fertilisers (2014 - 2015). Collaborators: Prof Giles Hardy, Dr Richard Bell (Murdoch University).
  • Drought-induced tree mortality in southwestern Australia: what will our forests look like in a drier future? (2014 - 2015). Collaborators: Prof Giles Hardy, Dr Joe Fontaine (Murdoch University).
  • Drought-induced forest collapse: what are the mechanisms driving rapid changes in our forests? Sir Walter Murdoch Distinguished Collaborator Program for Professor David Breshears. Collaborators: Dr Joe Fontaine, Prof Giles Hardy (Murdoch University), Prof David Breshears (University of Arizona).
  • Restore habitat and manage threats to Lake Clifton’s listed Thrombolites and species. Caring for our Country Grant (2011 - 2014). Collaborators: Peel Harvey Catchment Council.
  • Climate change impacts on the Northern Jarrah Forest (2009 - 2014). The Western Australian State Centre of Excellence for Climate Change, Woodland and Forest Health. Consortium of University, industry and community partners.
  • The cause(s) and management of the Eucalyptus gomphocephala decline epidemic in Western Australia: Restoration techniques for degraded eucalypt ecosystems (2006 - 2008). ARC Linkage Project LP0668195. Collaborators: Prof Giles Hardy, et al. (Murdoch University), Dr Ray Froend (ECU), Drew Haswell (DCLM), Graham Behn (DCLM), Christine Stone (State Forests of New South Wales), Brant Edwards (BEMAS incorporating Cable Sands). Industry Partner: Department of Conservation and Land Management.

Research associates and students

Current

  • Anthea Challis (PhD University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment; 2016 - current) Physiological tolerance and plant trait allocation in response to drought in a key forest species.
  • Luca de Prato (PhD Murdoch University; 2016 - current) Hemp as a high value crop in post-phosphate mined sites on Christmas Island.
  • Lewis Walden (PhD Murdoch University; 2016 - current) Implications of drought and wildfire on forest carbon.

Past

  • Laura Bradshaw (Hons, Murdoch University; 2015) Investigating the availability and use of topsoil as a tool in restoring Banksia woodland communities. A collaborative project between Tronox Ltd. and Murdoch University.
  • Ricci Dagostino (Hons, Murdoch University; 2014) Reduced groundwater availability and the associated effects on Eucalyptus gomphocephala along Western Australia's Swan Coastal Plain.
  • Jason Pitman (ISC, Murdoch University; 2013) The impacts of frost on the Northern Jarrah Forest.
  • Sarah Powell (ISC, Murdoch University; 2012) The effects of drought-induced canopy collapse on fuel loadings in the Northern Jarrah Forest.
  • Michael Bretz (Hons, Murdoch University; 2012) The role of digging mammals on litter accumulation, seedling recruitment and fuel loads.

Selected publications

Cobb R, Ruthrof KX, Breshears DD et al. (accepted) Impacts and Management After Forest Die-off: Insights via A Global Synthesis Using Conceptual State-and-Transition Models. Ecosphere. Accepted.

Ruthrof KX, Fontaine JB, Hopkins AJM, McHenry MP, O'Hara G, McComb J, Hardy GEStJ and Howieson J (accepted) Potassium amendment increases biomass and reduces heavy metal concentrations in Lablab purpureus after phosphate mining. Land Degradation and Development. Accepted.

Valentine LE, Bretz M, Ruthrof KX, Hardy G and Fleming PA (2017) Scratching beneath the surface: bandicoot bioturbation contributes to ecosystem processes. Austral Ecology 42 (3): 265-276.

Andrew ME, Ruthrof KX, Matusick G and Hardy GEStJ (2016) Spatial configuration of drought disturbance and forest gap creation across environmental gradients. Plos One. 11:e0157154.

Matusick G, Ruthrof KX and Hardy G (2016) Eucalyptus forest shows low structural resistance and resilience to climate change-type drought. Journal of Vegetation Science. 27 (3): 493-503.

Ruthrof KX, Fontaine JB, Matusick G, Breshears DD, Law D, Powell S and Hardy G (2016) How drought-induced forest die-off alters microclimate and increases fuel loadings and fire potentials.  International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25 (8): 819-830.

Mitchell P, O'Grady A, Pinkard E, Brodribb T, Arndt S, Blackman C, Duursma R, Fensham R, Hilbert D, Nitschke C, Norris J, Roxburgh S, Ruthrof KX and Tissue D (2016) An eco-climatic framework for evaluating the resilience of vegetation to water deficit. Global Change Biology. DOI:10.1111/gcb.13177.

Perring MP, Standish RJ, Price JN, Craig MD, Erickson TE, Ruthrof KX, Whiteley AS, Valentine LE and Hobbs RJ (2015) Advances in restoration ecology: rising to the challenges of the coming decades. Ecosphere. Volume 6(8), Article 131.

Ruthrof KX, Fontaine J, Buizer M, Matusick G, McHenry MP and Hardy G (2013) Linking restoration outcomes with mechanism: the role of site preparation, fertilisation and revegetation timing relative to soil density and water content. Plant Ecology 214: 987-998.

Matusick G, Ruthrof KX, Brouwers N, Dell B and Hardy G (2013) Sudden forest canopy collapse corresponding with extreme drought and heat in a mediterranean-type forest in southwestern Australia. European Journal of Forestry 132 (3): 497-510.

See Katinka's full list of publications on Google Scholar...

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