Biogeography and seed ecology of vernal pool species in Western Australia
“I have always had a strong interest in biology and followed this path into university, where in 2004 I completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Western Australia, majoring in Botany and Zoology. In the following year I graduated with honours after researching the pre-treatment of broadcasting seeds for Banksia woodland restoration.
In 2006, I was awarded a University Postgraduate Award and commenced my PhD at Kings Park & Botanic Gardens, Perth WA, investigating the seed ecology of Western Australian vernal pool species. The opportunity to collaborate with Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership on this project has provided much expertise and support. In 2008 I furthered my research at the MSB, utilizing some of the top technology available such as the IGAsorp (to develop isotherms) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). I am supervised by Dr David Merritt (KPBG), Prof Kingsley Dixon (KPBG), Dr Fiona Hay (MSB) and Prof Stephen Hopper (RBG, Kew).
In the south west Australian biodiversity hotspot, vernal pools have only recently been considered as threatened ecological communities containing a combination of taxa often unique to the environment. Vernal pools in Western Australia are either found on granite outcrops (gnammas) or on claypans, having a duripan impermeable to the water table. The ecosystems are characterised by inundation during winter and are exposed to extended periods of desiccation throughout the summer. Many of the species occurring in vernal pools are currently listed as threatened or declared rare. In a selection of iconic vernal pool taxa that include the evolutionary significant Hydatellaceae, seed germination and storage requirements are being investigated. Biogeographical studies are being conducted to determine the environmental parameters that are influencing species distributions and community composition. Vernal pool environments are one of Western Australia’s most susceptible ecosystems to climate change and measures to conserve these species ex situ will be one of the major outcomes of my PhD.”
- Read about the work of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership in Australia
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