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Plant ecophysiology and ecosystem processes

Researching plants and their environment, and ecosystem processes
Our research looks at ecosystem processes, and how plants are affected by and cope with their environment.

Our research

Our research is organised into two basic themes. The first theme is how plants are affected by and cope with their environment. The scope of this research includes the internal activities of plants. That is those chemical and physical processes associated with life (e.g. photosynthesis, respiration, gas exchange, nutrient uptake). Some of the research projects within this theme are:

  • Metabolomics as a tool to investigate stress tolerance mechanisms
  • Photosynthesis and diffusion of CO2 within leaves
  • How plants cope with constant versus “pulsed” supplies of nutrients and water

The second major theme encompasses ecosystem processes, in particular cycles of C, N, P. Some of the research projects within this theme are:

  • The cycling of organic N in soils
  • Uncovering how water availability affects soil respiration
  • Adaptation and acclimation of soil microbes to N and P
  • Interaction between plants and soil
  • Soil processes at cold temperatures (e.g. under snow)


Our team

  • Chris Donovan: Nutrition of epiphytes
  • Audrey Deheinzelin: Ecophysiology of Acacia


  • David Israel (University of Helsinki) Mesophyll conductance of Arabidopsis
  • Prof Barbara Hawkins (visiting Prof from University of Victoria): organic N nutrition of plants
  • Prof Daniel Epron (visiting Prof from Université Henri Poincaré): Interaction between plants and soil
  • Mercedes Uscola (visiting PhD student from Universidad de Alcalá ): Uptake of amino acids by plants
  • Javier Cano (visiting PhD student from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid): Shade and drought influences on photosynthesis of trees
  • Caroline Cheung (Hons): Are plants left-handed, right-handed or ambidextrous? 
  • Jacqui Simpson (PhD): Organic N cycling and uptake in Eucalyptus plantations 
  • Cyril Douthe (co-tutelle PhD student with Université Henri Poincaré): Relationship between isotopic discrimination of 13C during photosynthesis and water use efficiency
  • Michael Kowalczyk-Barker (Hons): Effect of plants on soil respiration at cold temperatures
  • Allison Frith (Hons): Ecophysiology of Wollemi pine
  • Evan Graham (Hons): Ecophysiology of Wollemi pine
  • James Bevan (Hons): Reproductive biology of Pinus radiata
  • Emma Paulding (Hons): Uptake of inorganic and organic N by Eucalyptus species
  • Sabine Posch (PhD): Environmental and genetic variation of photosynthesis, photoinhibition and antioxidants in Pinus radiata
  • Tarryn Turnbull (PhD): Photosynthetic responses to light, nitrogen, phosphorus and pruning of Eucalyptus in south-eastern Australia


We have received >$2.5M in research funding in the past 5 years, and welcome potential collaborators, postdocs and students. For information about opportunities to work or collaborate with us, contact Associate Professor Charles Warren via Research Supervisor Connect.


Charles Warren

Associate Professor
  • Room 225A Heydon-Laurence Building A08

Plant ecophysiology and ecosystem processes