Postgraduate Profiles

Stephen Benigno

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Thesis: Restoration in a postmine environment: using ecophysiological techniques to improve the establishment of framework Banksia woodland seedlings

The overarching objective of the proposed research is to establish principles to guide the restoration ecology of disturbed ecosystems within the Swan Coastal Plain Region of southwest Western Australia, with a focus on restoring keystone overstorey species.

The proposed research will aim to solve a problem that has hampered restoration in this particular ecosystem since its conception.

It has been postulated that soil compaction and drought stress are key contributors to restoration failure in the Swan Coastal Plain, but there is limited scientific data to support this theory.

Using ecophysiological techniques, this PhD thesis will define the underlying principles for plant responses to these two major environmental stresses and determine means to manipulate keystone species, thus raising the success rate of restoration.

Why my research is important

The project is specifically focused on restoring minesites within the sand quarries operated by Rocla® Quarry Products, located 40km north-northeast of central Perth.

The Banksia woodland ecosystem found here is prevalent throughout southwest Western Australia, and this information will be used economically by mining companies to reduce costs of post-minesite restoration. More importantly, however, it will improve conservation and land management programs throughout a large and biologically diverse region.

The results from this study will help set up a restoration plan available for use in future endeavours and the experimental design of this project will be able to be reused and applied to aid different ecosystems and species.

Aug 2007

Aug 2010