Professor Margaret Mayfield

Head of School

School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science
m.mayfield@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 52471

Overview

Plant Community Ecology, Conservation Biology, Climate Change Biology

My research broadly focuses on understanding how plant communities reassemble, persist and function following human land-use change. My research falls into three categories:

1) Theoretical plant community ecology, particularly community assembly and function.

2) Effects of agricultural production on native plants, insects and their interactions.

3) Improving restoration approaches using ecological and evolutionary theory.

Within my first research area my work involves the development of community ecological theory, and meta-analyses and field studies on plant functional diversity. These studies aim to improve understanding of community assembly following sudden, large-scale disturbances. In the long-term this work is forming the basis of understanding how how novel plant communities form, function and persist in landscapes persistently impacted by biological invasions, fragmentation and climate change. Results from this work are fundamental to advancing our ability to design conservation and restoration plans that will continue to protect focal species and system long into the future.

Work in my second research area focuses on crop pollination as an ecosystem service in agricultural landscapes, globally and in Australia particularly. Though I do not currently have students working directly on these projects, I remain involved in large international collaborations on this important research topic.

Within my third research area, I am working to advance ecological and evolutionary knowledge of direct use for plant community restoration. Currently, I am involved in two forest restoration experiments that are aimed at testing the long-term importance of tree diversity and tree density for the rapid recovery of forest biodiversity while making a profit on the carbon market.

Research Interests

  • Rainforest/woodland reforestation for biodiversity and Carbon sequestration
    An overarching goal of my research is to improve our ability to design forest restoration projects for successful recovery of biodiversity and carbon pools. I aim to do this by improving our understanding of the processes involved in community reassembly following global change and by experimentally testing a range of questions about restoration approaches. I am involved in two large-scale forest restoration experiments aimed at testing the importance of planted tree species diversity and tree spacing to the co-benefits of biodiversity recovery and carbon sequestration in forest restoration plantings. I also work on examining pre-existing forest plantings to try to advance our understanding of which environmental and biotic factors impact the success of forest plantings most from the perspective of carbon and biodiversity benefits of such projects.
  • Novel community assembly
    Much of my current research aims to improve our understanding of the ecological mechanisms driving the assembly of novel communities under drivers of global change. My work in this research area focuses on the annual plant communities of SW Western Australia, where I am using experimental and observational studies to understand how large-scale climate factors interface with local scale land use change to drive diversity patterns, invasions and resilience to invasion in native plant communities.
  • The role of productivity in driving forest recovery following land use change
    One of the big projects on-going in my research group aims to identify generalisable patterns of forest recovery following common land use changes such as logging and conversion of forest to agriculture. We are currently studying Australia's rainforests to determine if regional productivity drives patterns of forest recovery following logging.

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Art (Hons), Reed College
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University

Publications

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Supervision

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Available Projects

  • I am currently accepting students to work on understanding the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms involved in maintaining and changing patterns of diversity. Most projects on this topic use data from annual plant communities from SW Western Australia. Project topics cover theoretical to applied questions, some of which require field work, others that involve lab experiments or analysis of existing datasets.

    Specific topics include:

    The role of facilitation in driving coexistence of native and exotic species

    The role of plant-pollination interactions in driving coexistence

    Resilience to exotic invasion

    Climate change and novel community formation - using ecological theory to predict where and what types of communities will be found across landscapes in the future.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Featured Publications

Book Chapter

  • Barry, Kathryn E., de Kroon, Hans, Dietrich, P., Stanley Harpole, W., Roeder, Anna, Schmid, Bernhard, Clark, Adam T., Mayfield, Margaret M., Wagg, Cameron and Roscher, Christiane (2019). Linking local species coexistence to ecosystem functioning: A conceptual framework from ecological first principles in grassland ecosystems. Advances in Ecological Research. (pp. 265-296) edited by David A. Bohan and Alex J. Dumbrell.Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier B.V.. doi:10.1016/bs.aecr.2019.06.007

  • Waser, Nickolas M. and Mayfield, Margaret M. (2006). Applications in agriculture and conservation. Plant-pollinator interactions: From specialization to generalization. (pp. 309-313) edited by Nickolas M. Waser and Jeff Ollerton.Chicago, U.S.A.: University of Chicago Press.

  • Ricketts, Taylor H., Williams, Neal M. and Mayfield, Margaret M. (2006). Connectivity and ecosystem services: Crop pollination in agricultural landscapes. Connectivity conservation. (pp. 255-289) edited by Kevin R. Crooks and M. A. Sanjayan.Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • I am currently accepting students to work on understanding the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms involved in maintaining and changing patterns of diversity. Most projects on this topic use data from annual plant communities from SW Western Australia. Project topics cover theoretical to applied questions, some of which require field work, others that involve lab experiments or analysis of existing datasets.

    Specific topics include:

    The role of facilitation in driving coexistence of native and exotic species

    The role of plant-pollination interactions in driving coexistence

    Resilience to exotic invasion

    Climate change and novel community formation - using ecological theory to predict where and what types of communities will be found across landscapes in the future.