Listen to Margie Mayfield talk about her research into plant communities

Listen to the podcast from Margie Mayfield’s seminar on 17 April about plant communities in a changing world.

The Environment Institute’s Global Ecology Laboratory presented Dr Margie Mayfield, Senior Lecturer in Plant Ecology at the University of Queensland on Wednesday 17 April 2013. Her research broadly focuses on how plant and insect communities reassemble, persist and function following human land-use change.


Human activities are increasingly driving the development of novel plant communities worldwide. These stable mixes of resident native, range-expanded native and exotic plant species have become more common than most truly “natural” plant communities in many areas. Interestingly, novel communities are often interspersed with much more severally degraded communities (all exotics) and areas that support largely native communities. This begs the question, why do novel communities form in some places but not others? Despite the increasing commonality of novel communities and their potential role in conservation, we have a poor understanding of how these communities differ from those they replace and what drives and prevents their assembly. Identifying drivers of novel community development is increasingly important for many conservation and restoration efforts. In this talk I will discuss the theoretical expectations of how we expect communities to change in response large-scale environmental change and what processes should mediate where and when native-dominated communities should be resilient or susceptible to novel community development. I will then discuss several of the projects coming out of my lab looking at novel community assembly in the York Gum woodlands of SW Western Australia, where my group has been studying the mechanisms of novel community assembly over the last several years. Specifically, I will discuss the role of biotic interactions in mediating community wide responses to land use change and species invasions across environmental gradients.

Download the podcast from this seminar.

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