Professor Patricia Werner

PhD (1972: Michigan State University, USA)
Honorary Professor

After completing my B.S., I taught biology for four years before returning to post-graduate school to complete my MS and PhD at Michigan State University (MSU) and post-doctorate at University of Iowa.  I joined MSU as Assistant Professor, advancing to Professor in only 11 years while conducting research on plant population dynamics in the context of community structure and function in succession systems and prairies, and earning an international reputation.  Doctoral students under my supervision became successful researchers (including distinguished professors, deans, and a university provost, as well as staff in environmental consulting firms, public servants, and an attorney.)  

I began researching tree population dynamics in Kakadu National Park in 1982 while on sabbatical leave from MSU, looking at the role of fire, grazing and understorey on tree survival and growth.  

I moved to Australia in 1985, taking up a role as senior principle research scientist and head of TERC, CSIRO’s centre in Darwin 1985-1990.  I became an Australian citizen in 1988 (hold dual citizenship).  

I returned  to the US as Director, Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation, Washington DC 1990-1992 (research budget of $72M), then to University of Florida as Professor and Chair of Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and Director, Centre for Conservation Ecology.  Fulbright Senior Fellow to Australia, 1999-2000; fostered student exchanges between USA and Australia.  I retired from University of Florida as Professor Emeritus in 2003 after a 2-year physical illness.  I moved back to Canberra in 203 as a Visiting Fellow with CRES, ANU.  I currently hold appointments as adjunct professor, Charles Darwin University and my main affiliation is Visiting Fellow, Fenner School of Environment and Society, ANU.

Research interests

Population Ecology, Plant Ecology, Savanna Ecology, Biogeography, Kakadu National Park

  • Fensham, R, Freeman, M, Laffineur, B et al. 2017, 'Variable rainfall has a greater effect than fire on the demography of the dominant tree in a semi-arid Eucalyptus savanna', Austral Ecology, vol. Online, pp. 11pp.
  • Huston, M, Ellison, A, Frank, D et al. 2016, 'External Influences on Ecological Theory: Report on Organized Oral Session 80 at the 100th Anniversary Meeting of the Ecological Society of America', The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (Online), vol. 97, no. 3, pp. 311-317pp.
  • van Doorn, A, Woinarski, J & Werner, P 2015, 'Livestock grazing affects habitat quality and persistence of the threatened Purple-crowned Fairy-wren Malurus coronatus in the Victoria River District, Northern Territory, Australia', Emu - Austral Ornithology, vol. 115, no. 4, pp. 302-308pp.
  • Werner, P 2015, 'Australian vs. North American ecological research: Contrasting environmental influences', 2015 ESA Annual Meeting, Ecological Society of Australia, tbc, pp. 2pp.
  • N'Dri, A, Gignoux, J, Barot, S et al. 2014, 'The dynamics of hollowing in annually burnt savanna trees and its effect on adult tree mortality', Plant Ecology, vol. 215, no. 1, pp. 27-37.
  • Werner, P 2014, 'Colonizing Plants: Evolutionary and Ecological Trade-offs', Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America (CEASED), vol. 95, no. 3, pp. 229-233.
  • Werner, P 2014, 'The rise and fall of the Asian water buffalo in the monsoonal tropics of northern Australia', in Prins, H.H.T., Gordon, I.J. (ed.), Invasion Biology and Ecological Theory: Insights from a Continent in Transformation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, USA, pp. 452-496.
  • Werner, P & Prior, L 2013, 'Demography and growth of subadult savanna trees: interactions of life history, size, fire season, and grassy understory', Ecological Monographs, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. 67-93.
  • Werner, P 2012, 'The fate of sub-adult trees trapped in the demographic bottleneck of a mesic savanna', Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting 2012, Ecological Society of America, Portland, Oregon, USA, pp. 147pp.
  • Werner, P 2012, 'Growth of juvenile and sapling trees differs with both fire season and understorey type: Trade-offs and transitions out of the fire trap in an Australian savanna', Austral Ecology, vol. 37, no. 6, pp. 644-657.
  • Werner, P 2010, 'Fine-scale patchiness of burns in a mesic eucalypt savanna differs with fire season and Sorghum abundance', Northern Territory Naturalist, vol. 22, pp. 31-44.
  • Werner, P & Petty, A, eds, 2010, How many buffalo does it take to change a savanna? A response to Bowman et al (2008).
  • Lindenmayer, D, Steffen, W, Burbidge, A et al. 2010, 'Conservation strategies in response to rapid climate change: Australia as a case study', Biological Conservation, vol. 143, no. 7, pp. 1587-1593.
  • Werner, P & Franklin, D 2010, 'Resprouting and mortality of juvenile eucalypts in an Australian savanna: impacts of fire season and annual sorghum', Australian Journal of Botany, vol. 58, no. 8, pp. 619-628.
  • Werner, P, Steffen, W, Burbidge, A et al. 2009, 'Ecological principles underpin a national approach to biodiversity conservation under climate change in Australia', ESA Annual Meeting, Conference Organising Committee, USA.
  • Steffen, W, Burbridge, A, Hughes, L et al. 2009, Australia's Biodiversity and Climate Change, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne Australia.
  • Werner, P, Prior, L & Forner, J 2008, 'Growth and survival of termite-piped Eucalyptus tetrodonta and E. miniata in northern Australia: Implications for harvest of trees for didgeridoos', Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 256, pp. 328-334.
  • Werner, P & Prior, L 2007, 'Tree-piping termites and growth and survival of host trees in savanna woodland of north Australia', Journal of Tropical Ecology, vol. 23, no. 6, pp. 611-622.
  • Petty, A, Lehmann, C, Riley, J et al. 2007, 'Savanna responses to feral buffalo in Kakadu National Park, Australia', Ecological Monographs, vol. 77, no. 3, pp. 441-463.
  • Werner, P, Cowie, I & Cusack, J 2006, 'Juvenile tree growth and demography in response to feral water buffalo in savannas of northern Australia: an experimental field study in Kakadu National Park', Australian Journal of Botany, vol. 54, no. 3, pp. 283-296.

Population Ecology, Community Ecology, Terrestrial Ecology, Biogeography