Adaptation for Conservation and Restoration

Our group combines observational, experimental and theoretical approaches to understand change within and among species. This three-pronged approach provides a platform through which we develop solutions to address contemporary challenges in ecology and evolution. We have three main areas of focus:

 

Population genetics & genomics

We work on determining the agents and targets of selection in native and invasive plants. This work improves our understanding of how species adapt in the face of environmental change. We focus on improving understanding of historical and contemporary gene flow, particularly in reference to functionally important and vulnerable species. Current approaches include next generation sequencing (GBS/RADseq, RNAseq, Exome/Hybrid Capture techniques) as well as traditional population genetic marker approaches.

Recent and ongoing projects include:

  • Population genomics and biogeography of Australian plants
  • Gene flow, pollination and mating systems of plants

Major funding:

  • ARC Discovery DP150103414 Understanding adaptation to improve conservation of Australian flora
  • ARC DECRA DE150100542 Understanding adaptation of plants along environmental clines
  • ARC Super Science  FS110200051 Multi-model predictions of ecosystem flux under climate change based on novel genetic and image analysis methods

Functional & Community Ecology

Supporting the integrity and function of ecological communities is fundamental to ensuring that ecosystems and human activities are sustainable. Our group is interested in understanding how ecosystem function changes with human impacts, and how damaged function can be returned. Current approaches include traditional vegetation surveys, assessment of native and honeybee pollinators and soil metagenomics.

Recent and ongoing projects include:

  • Pollinator reserves
  • Species turnover with environmental and climatic change
  • Biomes of Australian Soil Environments

Major funding:

  • ARC Linkage LP110100721 Species and gene turnover across environmental gradients – a landscape approach to quantify biodiversity and resilience for climate adaptation
  • Premier’s Science and Research Fund – Transect for Environmental monitoring and Decision making (TREND)

Restoration Ecology

Habitat degradation is a major threat to global ecosystem function and the delivery of ecosystem services. When this is coupled with rapid climate change, many species will become maladapted to their environment and be unable to provide critical ecosystem services. We improve the efficacy of restoration activities by optimising species and provenance selection to promote restoration resilience, with the aim of maximising return on restoration investment.

Recent and ongoing projects include:

  • Landscape context of seed collection
  • Species choice for restoration
  • Local vs. alternative provenancing approaches
  • Demonstrating restoration success

Major funding:

  • ARC Linkage LP110200805 Developing best-practice approaches for restoring forest ecosystems that are resilient to climate change
  • Native Vegetation Council of South Australia – Developing best practice approaches for restoring River Murray forest ecosystems that are resilient to climate change