The role of seed dormancy in future proofing seagrass populations

Investigating adaptation mechanisms of seeds in a changing environment

For many seagrass species, the production of a long-lived seed that can remain viable but not germinate during unfavourable conditions underpins their ability to survive and persist through time. Yet for the majority of seagrass species we have little understanding of the mechanisms that influence seed dormancy, limiting our ability to manage populations effectively. Dormancy is a block to germination that has evolved differently across different species through adaptation to the prevailing environment so that germination occurs when conditions for establishing a new plant generation are likely to be suitable. A diverse range of dormancy mechanisms has potentially evolved in keeping pace with the diversity of climates and habitats in which seagrasses inhabit.

While seed dormancy is a critical first stage in the early life history of many seagrasses, there is a lack of clarity on mechanisms influencing dormancy, impeding the development of more effective protection and management strategies for these species. The PhD applicant will lead a project that aims to identify a diversity of dormancy strategies and determine dormancy promoting and alleviating processes within select Western Australian seagrasses. This project will involve a range of skills including seagrass seed ecology, seed physiology and biology, microscopy, and aquaculture while also working within a range of marine and estuarine habitats.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Research team leader: Dr John Statton

I am a marine restoration ecologist in the Oceans Institute at UWA. My research aims to provide innovative science to support the conservation and ecological restoration of seagrass and develop proven approaches to address the scale of loss. I take a cross-disciplinary and multi-scaled approach to my research to develop a better understanding of how seagrasses interact with their environment.

This project will be co-supervised by Professor Gary Kendrick at the School of Biological Sciences

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check critieria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • Background in at least one of the following areas: marine ecology, plant/seed biology, ecophysiology
  • Good understanding of statistics
  • Prepared to work in laboratory, aquaculture facility and in the field
  • Diving (Scientific diver) qualifications preferred
  • Boating (restricted coxswain or higher) qualification preferred but not essential

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an applicationDifferent application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


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