Dr John Morgan
is a plant ecologist at the Department of Botany, La Trobe University. He is interested in long-term vegetation dynamics of natural ecosystems. In particular, he studies how changes in environmental filters and competitive processes, in the context of disturbance, land use change and climate change, shape plant communities.

 

His  research has identified that while plant responses to environmental change are context- and species-specific, this understanding can be enhanced by considering the ecology of plant functional groups, using gradients to identify ecological thresholds of change, and utilising historical data in revisitation studies to understanding long-term dynamics.

Current research in alpine areas focus on:

  • Controls on plant species distrubutions and climate change impacts: snowgum dynamics at treeline and subalpine grassland interfaces; effects of snowcover & meltout patterns on frost sensitivity; how nutrients control species diversity in alpine grasslands (NutNet experiment).

  • Long-term population dynamics: how important are seedling recruitment processes to the maintenance of alpine plant populations; how does seedling recruitment processes to the maintenance of alpine plant populations; how does seedling recruitment vary across altitudinal gradients.

  • How plant functional traits underpin plant community responses to disturbance & environmental stress: using CSR plant theory to assess community changes at Maisie Carr's long-term plots; can plant traits help predict species responses to changing climates.

  • Plant-plant interactions in alpine vegetation: how important is competition versus facilitation as an ecological process in alpine herbfields.
  • Currently, there are three students in the lab undertaking alpine-related projects. James Shannon (PhD candidate) is examining peatland dynamics, Sera Cutler (PhD candidate) is examining recovery of vegetation after fire and Citra Jewson-Brown (Honours) is examining herbivory at local and regional scales in snow gums.


    For more information, visit John's website or contact him at J.Morgan@latrobe.edu.au