People

RESEARCH SCIENTISTS:

Bruce Webber

Bruce Webber is a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO, Program Director of Processes and Threats Mitigation at the Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute, and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia. Bruce’s work focuses on the impacts of global environmental change on plants and the role of plant-ecosystem interactions in shaping community composition.  He leads projects that translate novel research findings into improved management solutions to address the biggest challenges at the nexus of landscape change, species invasions and native species resilience. A common theme underpinning his current research is how plant fitness is influenced by abiotic, biotic and dispersal drivers, and how this fitness, in turn, impacts on population and community dynamics.  Bruce’s research spans a variety of ecosystems, with a particular focus on the tropical regions of northern Australia and SE Asia. He complements this field-based research with controlled-condition experiments and modelling. Publications: [ResearchGate] [Google Scholar] [ResearcherID]  Other links: [Twitter] [LinkedIn] [Instagram]

 

Raphael Didham

Raphael Didham is a Joint Appointment with CSIRO and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia, where he is a Professor in Global Change Impacts.  His research focuses on the synergistic effects of multiple drivers of global change on biodiversity loss and ecological resilience within remnant natural ecosystems. Raphael works predominantly on terrestrial invertebrate communities, but has a wide range of research projects investigating human impacts on plant, invertebrate, bird and mammal communities across a range of tropical and temperate regions of the world. These projects are founded on a strong theoretical and empirical understanding of spatial variation in species diversity and the processes which promote and maintain resilience within species interaction networks. Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearcherID] Other links: [Twitter

 

Karen Bell

Karen Bell is a Joint Appointment with CSIRO and the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia, where she is a Lecturer in Plant Ecology. Her research uses population genetics, phylogenetics and biogeography to address questions in evolutionary biology, long-distance species dispersal and plant-insect interactions. She is also working on method development in DNA metabarcoding of pollen, and is interested in finding new applications for these methods. Publications: [ResearchGate] [Google Scholar] Other links: [LinkedIn]

 

Ruchira02

Ruchira Somaweera is a Research Scientist with CSIRO and an Adjunct Research Fellow in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia. As a herpetologist, Ruchira has research interests broadly centered around the behavioural and evolutionary ecology of reptiles in tropical Australia and South Asia. Combining field surveys, computer-based modelling, molecular techniques and museum-based studies, Ruchira’s current research focuses on the adaptive capability of reptiles to global environmental change, with a special interest in interactions between native and introduced species. Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearchGate] Other links: [Web Profile] [Twitter] [LinkedIn] [Instagram]

 


RESEARCH TECHNICIANS:

Paul Yeoh

Paul Yeoh is a Senior Experimental Scientist at CSIRO with particular interests in the biological control of weeds. He is an experienced empirical field ecologist with a focus on impact assessments and collecting growth and abundance information on weed invasions. In the laboratory, Paul is likely to be gathering data on the response of weeds to various environmental conditions so as to enable the modelling of these plants to potential future climate scenarios. In the past, Paul has spent considerable time in quarantine facilities running host specificity trials for potential biological control agents and rearing insects for sterile insect release programs.  Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearcherID]

 

Kathryn03

Kathryn Batchelor is a Senior Research Technician at CSIRO specialising in plant and seed biology with a particular focus on species that are difficult to propagate in the laboratory. Traditionally trained as an entomologist, she spent a decade in the biological control of weeds, redistributing insects and pathogens associated with blackberry and bridal creeper across southern Australia. Kathryn is an experienced field surveyor and has current interests in the creation and quality control of big data for weed management. Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearcherID]

 

Michael Davy

Michael Davy is a Research Technician at CSIRO with expertise in plant ecology, soil management and sustainable agriculture. He is an experienced field technician with a focus on the collection and synthesis of vegetation and soil data. In the laboratory, Michael is likely to be processing field samples and running controlled environment experiments. Michael has spent considerable time in environmental field survey teams (vegetation and soil) and also with agricultural research institutes assisting on-ground research trials in soil amendments, fertilisers and sprays.

 

 


FELLOWS & AFFILIATES:

John Scott

John Scott is an Honorary Research Fellow with CSIRO Land and Water and an Adjunct Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia. John’s main research interests include the ecology, management,  and biological control of invasive plants in Australia, principally on weeds with origins in countries around the Mediterranean basin and southern Africa. His recent research includes risk assessments for potential weeds and the adaptation responses required for weeds under climate change.  Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearcherID]

 

Laura Fagan

Laura Fagan is a Visiting Scientist with CSIRO Land and Water and a Development Officer at the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). Laura trained as an entomologist in Canada and worked as a scientist in New Zealand on integrated pest management and biosecurity. Her current work involves developing mobile phone apps to engage community in e-surveillance for managing pests and diseases in Australia. Her other interests include invasion science, farm biosecurity and conservation management. Publications: [ResearchGateOther links: [MyPestGuide]  [DPIRD homepage]

 

Dennis Byrne is a Visiting Scientist with CSIRO Health and Biosecurity. His research is applying molecular tools to disentangle the historical biogeography of invasive weeds.  Dennis is currently working on the bitou bush eradication program in Western Australia, where his research is targeted at improving the chances of local eradication and management effectiveness.

 

 

Jacob Berson is a Visiting Scientist with CSIRO Health and Biosecurity and a Research Associate at the University of Western Australia. Jacob’s research interests include quantitative genetics, behavioural ecology and ecosystem services. His current research is focused on understanding the drivers of dung beetle species distribution and abundance in southern Australia, and in particular, how the composition of dung beetle assemblages influences the ecosystem services provided by dung beetles. Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearcherID]

 

 


STUDENTS:

Melinda Trudgen

Melinda Trudgen is a PhD student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and with CSIRO Land and Water.  Her research is investigating how cultivated urban trees can escape to become environmental weeds. This work uses rosewood (Tipuana tipu), which is on the Australian Alert List as a potential Weed of National Significance, as a model species. The work has focused on climatic and edaphic factors that are likely to affect the potential distribution of this species, as a way of gaining insight into how urban plants ‘jump the garden fence’. Melinda is supervised by Bruce Webber, John Scott and Hans LambersPublications: [ResearchGate] [Google ScholarOther links: [Web Profile] [Twitter] [Linkedin]

 

Edward Tsen

Edward Tsen is a a PhD student at the University of Melbourne’s School of Biosciences and with CSIRO Land and Water. Edward’s doctoral research examines the impact of anthropogenic disturbance upon plant-animal interactions in tropical rainforests and the impact of this disturbance on plant population genetics. With fieldwork in North Queensland’s Daintree region and South East Asia, Edward’s research interests encompass seed and pollen dispersal, camera trap fauna surveys, plant taxonomy and landscape connectivity.  Edward is supervised by Bruce Webber and Ian Woodrow. Publications: [ResearchGate] [Google ScholarOther links: [Linkedin]

 

Poasa Nauluvula

Poasa Nauluvula is a PhD student at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji and with CSIRO Land and Water.  His research focuses on the growth and development of tuber crops and how this novel understanding can inform our ability to improve food security in the Pacific in a rapidly changing climate. This research is likely to make a significant contribution to the understanding of root crop agronomy not only for Pacific nations, but to the many other countries worldwide that have cassava as a staple component of their diet. Poasa is supervised by Bruce Webber, Anjeela Jokhan and Ros Gleadow. Other links: [Linkedin]

 

Juliana Pille Arnold

Juliana Pille Arnold is a PhD student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. Her doctoral research is investigating the impact of environmental change on species interaction networks, focusing on plant-pollinator interactions in degraded landscapes in the Swan Coastal Plain, Western Australia. Her research aims to assess the processes limiting pollinator visitation in modified landscapes at a landscape scale, as well as to determine the functional consequences of resource energetic constraints for pollinators on the reproductive output of plants in fragmented woodlands. Juliana is supervised by Raphael Didham, Bruce Webber and Jason Tylianakis  Other links: [LinkedIn]

 

Tori01

Tori Reynolds is a PhD student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland and CSIRO Land and Water. Her research involves identifying the role of pollinators to native plant communities in highly fragmented agricultural landscapes of southwest Western Australia. Her work is assessing the abundance and composition of pollinators and their resource collection patterns in remnant wildflower communities and adjacent co-flowering canola fields. Tori is also measuring pollen limitation in native plants and use DNA meta-barcoding techniques to advance understanding of the network of pollination interactions occurring across large-scale agricultural landscapes. Tori is supervised by Margie Mayfield, Saul Cunningham, Romina Rader and Bruce Webber. Other links: [Twitter] [Web Profile]

 

Shilu Zheng

Shilu Zheng is a PhD student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. She is interested in exploring the drivers of plant community assembly with trait-based approach. Her doctoral research is investigating the impact of habitat fragmentation on functional structure of subtropical plant communities in the Thousand Island (Qiandao) Lake in Zhejiang, China, focusing on intraspecific trait divergence of woody plants on islands. Shilu is supervised by Raphael Didham, Bruce Webber and Mingjian Yu of Zhejiang University.

 

James Barr

  James Barr is a PhD student at Curtin University and CSIRO Land and Water. His research focuses on predator recognition and anti-predatory behaviour in the King’s skink (Egernia kingii), in particular caudal autotomy, and how these traits change when exposed to different levels of predation risk (from both native and introduced species), across isolated island populations in Western Australia.  James is supervised by Ruchira Somaweera, Bill Bateman, Stephanie Godfrey, Michael Gardner and Kate Trinajstic. Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearchGate] Other links: [LinkedIn] [Twitter]

 

Shenade Findlay is a MSc student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University Of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. Her research involves characterising the climatic regeneration niche of stinking passionflower (Passiflora foetida). Contributing to a broader program of work on stinking passionflower currently underway at CSIRO, her project will explore how climate constrains and limits the growth of this weed in its early life stages. Shenade is using climate controlled growth chambers to understand how air temperature and soil moisture interact to shape germination and establishment, and to explore whether populations distributed across northern Australia show signs of local adaptation in their climatic requirements. Shenade is supervised by Bruce Webber and Raphael Didham.

 

Caitlin Nagle is a MSc student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. The aim of her research is to determine the sensitivity of reptiles and amphibians to continued habitat degradation on the island of Nosy Komba, Madagascar. Her project utilises three years of data from a range of forest and plantation habitats spanning a degradation gradient. By assessing change in species richness, abundance and community assemblage as a result of habitat degradation, Caitlin will identify habitats that may be at an increased risk of, or have already undergone, biodiversity loss and will determine the level of degradation that can be withstood by reptiles and amphibians. With so much of Madagascar’s natural vegetation already gone, understanding the value of degraded habitats will help to optimise management to conserve what biodiversity remains. Caitlin is supervised by Raphael Didham and Jane Prince.

 

Glenn Maslen is a BSc(Hons) student with the School of Agriculture and Environment at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. His research is investigating the spatio-temporal relationship between the invasive weed stinking passionflower (Passiflora foetida) and the reproductive output of freshwater crocodiles (Crocodylus johnstoni) at Lake Argyle in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Glenn is supervised by Raphael Didham, Ruchira Somaweera and Bruce Webber. Other links: [LinkedIn] [Twitter]

 

Amanda Emmett is a BSc(Hons) student with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Health and Biosecurity. Her research is focusing on bitou bush, an invasive weed. Amanda will be building upon previous research to delve deeper into the history of its invasion, using methods from genomics and phylogeography to better understand the origin, size, and genetic diversity of the founding population. The work will enhance existing eradication efforts underway in Western Australia, and show why it is imperative to protect our biodiversity before it is damaged beyond repair. Amanda is supervised by Karen Bell, John Scott and Bruce Webber.

 


TEAM ALUMNI:

Tommaso Jucker (2019). Tommaso completed a position as a Research Scientist with the team, focusing on understanding what determines the composition, structure and function of plant communities, in an effort to predict how these will respond to rapid global change. Tommaso went on to secure a position as a Natural Environment Research Council Fellow with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol in the UK. Publications: [Google Scholar] [ResearchGate] Other links: [Web Profile] [Twitter]

Helen White (2018). Helen completed her PhD entitled “Resistance, resilience and adaptation to climate change in riparian ecosystems” with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. This research investigated the impacts of climate change on riparian ecosystems in the south west of Western Australia, investigating the impacts reduced stream flow on water dependent communities to arm land managers with adaptation strategies for restoration and management in to the future. This project was part of a bigger project on Blackberry decline, focusing on restoration in a post invasion landscape. Helen was supervised by Raphael Didham and John Scott. Helen went on to secure a position as an advisor with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment in New Zealand.  Publications:  [Google Scholar]

Katie White (2017). Katie completed her BSc(Hons) entitled “Limitations to invasion success: identifying the climatic requirements of Passiflora foetida during germination and early establishment life phases” with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. Her research investigated the influence of climatic gradients on the growth rates, germination success and reproductive potential of stinking passionflower to inform the search for a biological control solution for this threatening weed. Katie was supervised by Bruce Webber, Karen Bell and Wolfgang Lewandrowski. Katie went on to secure a position as an Environmental Officer with the Shire of Esperance. Other links: [LinkedIn]

Dennis Byrne (2017)  Dennis completed his BSc(Hons) entitled “Elucidating the invasion history and breeding system of Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. rotundata (bitou bush) in Western Australia to improve management strategies” with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Western Australia and CSIRO Land and Water. His research used molecular tools to disentangle the historical biogeography of bitou bush invasions in Australia in order to improve chances of local eradication and management effectiveness. Dennis was supervised by Karen Bell, Bruce Webber and Pieter Poot.

Timm Dobert (2017).  Timm completed his PhD entitled “The influence of logging on understorey plant communities in tropical lowland rainforest in Borneo” in 2015 with the School of Animal Biology at the University of Western Australia and with CSIRO Land and Water.  Timm was supervised by Raphael Didham, Bruce Webber and Katharine Dickinson and his research was conducted as part of the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project in Sabah.  Timm examined the level of exotic plant invasions and variation in functional traits and evolutionary relatedness across a logging-intensity gradient from primary to repeatedly logged forests. His results showed that logging facilitates the invasion of exotic plants, albeit at currently low levels, and that a strong logging signal persists in the functional and phylogenetic structure of understorey plant communities. After his PhD, Timm worked with us as a Volunteer Fellow, during which time he extended his studies on the impacts of fragmentation and global change on tropical forest biodiversity. Timm went on to secure a postdoctoral position at the University of Alberta in Canada, investigating livestock grazing influences on ecology, soil carbon and biodiversity of Canada’s Great Plains. Publications:  [Google Scholar] [ResearchGate] Other links: [LinkedIn]

Alice Watt (2017). Alice completed her BSc(Hons) entitled “Informing land managers on climate resilient restoration – optimising resource allocation in Eucalyptus rudis seedlings along a 600mm rainfall gradient” in 2016 at the University of Western Australia and with CSIRO Land and Water, supervised by Bruce Webber, Raphael Didham and Helen White. After her Hons year Alice worked with our team as a Volunteer Fellow, assisting with our projects investigating climate change resilience in riparian revegetation programs in the south-west of Western Australia. Alice went on to secure a position as an Environmental Consultant with Phoenix Environmental Services.

Caroline Delaisse (2017). Caroline completed her BSc(Hons) entitled “Understanding processes influencing seed germination in Rubus anglocandicans to improve weed invasion management” in 2015 at the University of Western Australia and with CSIRO Land and Water, supervised by Bruce Webber and Pieter Poot. After her Hons year, Caroline assisted with our projects on understanding the seedbank of highly invasive weed species to improve management outcomes, primarily blackberry (Rubus anglocandicans). Caroline went on to secure an Experimental Scientist position with CSIRO in Canberra, ACT, working on invasive plant management. Other links: [LinkedIn]

Veronica Wilson (2016).  Veronica completed an Indigenous Cadetship with CSIRO Land and Water in our team while studying at the University of Western Australia.  Veronica provided enthusiastic research assistance for a number of our projects focusing on plant ecology field studies and camera trap research, among other things.  Veronica went on to secure a position with the Swan River Trust, a part of the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

Sonia Aghighi (2014).  Sonia completed her PhD entitled “The etiology and epidemiology of European Blackberry (Rubus anglocandicans) decline in South-West of Western Australia” at Murdoch University and with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, supervised by John Scott, Treena Burgess and Giles Hardy.  Sonia returned to Iran to take up a lecturing position in plant pathology at the Shahid Bahonar University of Kerman  Publications: [ResearchGate] [Google Scholar]

Samantha Harris-Wetherbee (2013).  Sam completed her MSc entitled “Ontogenetic defence trajectories in the rainforest sub-canopy tree, Ryparosa kurrangii” at the University of Melbourne and with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, supervised by Bruce Webber and Ian Woodrow.  Sam went on to undertake an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College in the UK. Other links: [LinkedIn]

Leonard Tan (2013).  Leonard completed his BSc(Hons) entitled “Does competition with native plants limit the invasion risk of Tipuana tipu in south-western Australia?” at the University of Western Australia and with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, supervised by Bruce Webber, Hans Lambers and Melinda Trudgen.

Nikolai MacNee (2013).  Nikolai completed his BSc(Hons) entitled “Responses of Cassava and Taro to elevated carbon dioxide” at Monash University and with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, supervised by Bruce Webber, Ros Gleadow and Cecilia Blomstedt. Nikolai went on to undertake a PhD at the University of Auckland.  Publications: [ResearchGate] Other links: [LinkedIn]