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Research Scientist (Orchid Conservation)
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Research themes

  • The role of mycorrhizas in the mineral nutrition of terrestrial orchids
  • Conservation and restoration of terrestrial orchids
  • Mutualisms and symbiotic relationships
  • Pollination biology
  • Landscape ecology
  • Plant community ecology
  • Indicator species and ecosystem health assessment

Academic background

  • 2000 - 2004 Bachelor of Environmental Science (BEnvSc) Marine Science (double major), Murdoch University.
  • 2004 Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours equivalent), Murdoch University. Thesis title: 'Changes to the taxonomic and structural composition of a Banksia woodland'. Supervisor: Dr Phil Ladd.
  • 2004 - 2010 PhD in Environmental Science, Murdoch University. Thesis title: 'Orchids as indicators of ecosystem health in urban bushland fragments'.

Current Project

Title: The role of mycorrhizal fungi in the nutrition of temperate terrestrial orchids

University: School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia

Collaborators: Dr Hans Lambers, Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr David Read

Description: The roots of more than 80% of terrestrial plant species associate intimately with fungi to form mycorrhizas. The family Orchidaceae constitutes the largest plant family on earth with over 25, 000 species, the majority of which use mycorrhizal fungi. However, relatively little is known of the functional significance of these mycorrhizal fungi. This project will examine the exchanges of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus between selected orchids and their symbionts. The reciprocal processes of nutrient capture and transfer from soil to orchid will also be evaluated. This study will provide the first insights into the role of orchid fungi in the capture and transport of nutrients across a range of orchid taxa encompassing the major fungal groups, ecological strategies and colonisation types. This research will contribute to the basic eco-physiological understanding that is required to underpin orchid conservation efforts.


  • Newman B, Ladd P and Dixon K (2011) Impacts of urbanization and habitat condition on the population viability of orchids in urban reserves. Ecological Society of Australia, Tasmania, Australia. 21-25 November, 2011.
  • Newman B, Ladd P, Batty A and Dixon K (2007) Ecology of orchids in urban bushland reserves - can orchids be used as indicators of vegetation condition? International Orchid Conservation Congress, San Jose, Costa Rica. March 19-23, 2007.
  • Newman B, Batty A and Dixon K (2005) Pollination and conservation of orchids in urban bushland reserves. Second in situ Orchid Conservation Workshop, Victoria. September 2005.



Newman B, Ladd P, Brundrett M and Dixon K (2013) Effects of habitat fragmentation on plant reproductive success and population viability at the landscape and habitat scale. Biological Conservation, 159, 16-23.

Newman B, Ladd P, Batty A and Dixon K (2007) Ecology of orchids in urban bushland reserves - can orchids be used as indicators of vegetation condition? Lankesteriana, 7(1-2), 313.


Newman B and Dixon K (2011) Life on the edge: the global crisis in terrestrial orchid conservation. American Orchid Society Bulletin.

Newman B (2010) Orchids: the canary in the coal mine. For People and Plants.

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