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Ecological Restoration

Effective restoration of degraded ecosystems is essential for improving the status of native biodiversity and ecosystem services. We work on a range of restoration focused research topics and model systems, spanning marine, freshwater, terrestrial and alpine environments. The common objective is to maximise restoration success, by enhancing the fitness, adaptive capacity, and long-term viability of the restored wildlife communities. 

Revegetation - the seeding or planting of native species - is commonly used to restore degraded ecosystems and habitats affected by anthropogenic changes. The success of revegetation efforts is usually measured using ecological,rather than genetic measures. While ecological outcomes are important, genetic diversity captured during revegetation also needs to be considered as this can influence the environmental resilience and fitness of restored populations. Our team are currently leading several projects using population genetics, common garden provenance trials and climate niche modeling to assist the guide restoration strategies. Specially, these project aim to identify the best combinations of genotypes (i.e. seed sources) to help overcome risks of inbreeding and maladaptation in species persisting in highly fragmented and rapidly changing environments. We also use a combination of traditional and innovative genetic approaches (i.e. environmental DNA) to monitor recovery succession of restored habitats to provide qualitative and quantitative assessments of ecological restoration success.

Key Publications

Adam D. Miller, Craig Nitschke, Andrew Weeks, William Weatherly, et al. (2020) Genetic data and climate niche suitability models highlight the vulnerability of a functionally important tree species from south-eastern Australia. Evolutionary Applications (accepted).

York PH, Smith TM, Coles RG, McKenna SA, Connolly R, Irving AD, Jackson EL, McMahon K, Runcie JW, Sherman CDH, Sullivan BK, Trevathan-Tackett SM, Brodersen KE, Carter AB, Ewers CJ, Lavery PS, Roelfsema CM, Sinclair EA, Strydom S; Tanner JE, van Dijk K, Warry FY, Waycott M, Whitehead S (2017) Identifying knowledge gaps in seagrass research and management: an Australian perspective. Marine Environmental Research. 127: 163-172. DOI: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.06.006

Smith TM, York PH, Macreadie PI, Keough MJ, Ross DJ, Sherman CDH (2016) Recovery pathways from small scale disturbance in a temperate Australian seagrass. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 542, 97–108.

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