Managing and restoring grassland forb diversity

Native forbs represent a minor portion of grassland biomass but contribute significantly to overall species diversity, with flow-on benefits for habitat value (eg. for birds, reptiles, invertebrates), eco-system services (eg. pollinator diversity, pest control) and resistance to invasion. Human activities have modified the species composition of grasslands around the world with agricultural land use and/or poor management, often resulting in significant loss of native forb diversity. Research identifies elevated soil nutrients, the arrival of exotic species, and changed disturbance regimes–often associated with agricultural land use–as threats to grassland diversity.

We analysed data from plant surveys and a controlled field experiment to improve our understanding of these threats and their combined effects on native forbs. I will present the main findings of my research and discuss their implications for the restoration and management of natural temperate grasslands in south-eastern Australia.

About the speaker

David’s research combines field survey methods and controlled experimentation to further our understanding of the ecology and diversity of forbs in endangered grassy box woodland ecosystems. His current PhD studies with ANU’s Fenner School of Environment and Society broaden his research experience with native forbs and grasses which began with a greenhouse experiment within his Master of Environment (Research) degree. Prior to his environmental studies, David’s professional career included high school teaching and IT work. His interest in nature developed while growing up on a farm and managing a small bush property.