Marilyn Ball

Marilyn Ball received a PhD in Environmental Biology from The Australian National University (1982). She held postdoctoral positions at the University of California, Berkeley (1981-1984) and the ANU North Australia Research Unit in Darwin (1985-1988), and was awarded an ARC National Research Fellowship in 1989. She has led an eco-physiological research group since appointment in 1990 to a tenured position in biology at ANU. She serves on the Editorial Boards of several international journals (EcosystemsGlobal Change BiologyOecologiaPlant, Cell & Environment, and Tree Physiology) and is a member of the Australian Antarctic Research Advisory Committee.

Research interests

The Ball Lab studies how physiological adaptations and responses to environmental stresses affect the structure and functioning of plant communities along environmental gradients. Current projects are exploring the role of plant morphology in evolutionary trade-offs between stress tolerance and coordination of hydraulic and photosynthetic activity in leaves. This trade-off has implications for the structure, display and function of leaves that might constrain carbon gain and affect the capacity of evergreen species to respond with growth to climate warming and increasing atmospheric [CO2]. The work is being conducted on mangroves, temperate evergreen sclerophylls, and Antarctic vegetation.

Recent grants

  • Ball MC, GJ Bryant, L Sack, NM Holbrook (2011-2013) Coping with temperature extremes: morphological constraints on leaf function in a warmer, drier climate. ARC Discovery Grant DP110105380 
  • Ball MC, CE Lovelock, B Choat and L Sack (2010-2012) Salinity tolerance along an aridity gradient: linking physiological processes with morphological constraints on leaf function in mangroves. ARC Discovery Grant DP1096749 
  • Ball MC, SA Robinson and M Schortemeyer (2009-2010) Climate change and carbon gain in Antarctic mosses. Australian Antarctic Science Project No. 2780, Australian Antarctic Division. 
  • Bryant G, M Schortemeyer and MC Ball (2009-2010) Water content and freezing tolerance of Antarctic mosses – indicators of climate change. Australian Antarctic Science Project No. 3061, Australian Antarctic Division 
  • Ball MC, AB Nicotra, G Bryant, L Sack and NM Holbrook (2008-2010) Tolerance of temperature extremes under drought: linking physiological processes with morphological constraints on leaf function. ARC Discovery Grant DP0881009.   

Selected publications

  • Feller IC, CE Lovelock, U Berger, KL McKee, SB Joye and MC Ball (2010) Biocomplexity in mangrove ecosystems. Annual Review of Marine Science 2: 395-417. 
  • Martin KC, D Bruhn, CE Lovelock, IC Feller, JR Evans and MC Ball (2010) Nitrogen fertilisation enhances water use efficiency in a saline environment. Plant, Cell & Environment 33: 344-357. 
  • Sommerville KE, TE Gimeno and MC Ball (2010) Primary nerve (vein) density influences spatial heterogeneity of photosynthetic response to drought in two Acacia species. Functional Plant Biology 37: 840-848. 
  • Lenné T, G Bryant, CH Hocart, CX Huang and MC Ball (2010) Freeze avoidance: a dehydrating moss gathers no ice. Plant, Cell & Environment 33:1731-1741. 
  • Roden JS, MJ Canny, CX Huang and MC Ball (2009) Frost tolerance and ice formation in Pinus radiata needles: ice management by the endodermis and transfusion tissues. Functional Plant Biology 36: 180-189. 
  • Lovelock CE, MC Ball, KC Martin and IC Feller (2009) Nutrient enrichment increases mortality of mangroves. PLoS ONE 4(5): e5600. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005600. 
  • Stuart SA, B Choat, KC Martin, NM Holbrook and MC Ball (2007) The role of freezing in setting the latitudinal limits of mangrove forests. New Phytologist 173: 576-583. 
  • Medek DE, MC Ball and M Schortemeyer (2007) The relative contributions of leaf area ratio and net assimilation rate to change in growth rate depend on temperature: comparative analysis of subantarctic and alpine grasses. New Phytologist 175: 290-300. 
  • Lovelock CE, MC Ball, B Choat, BMJ Engelbrecht, NM Holbrook and IC Feller (2006) Linking physiological processes with mangrove forest structure: Phosphorus deficiency limits canopy development, hydraulic conductance and photosynthetic carbon gain in dwarf Rhizophora mangle. Plant, Cell and Environment 29: 793-802. 
  • Ball MC, MJ Canny, CX Huang, JJG Egerton and J Wolfe (2006) Freeze-induced embolism depends on nadir temperature: the heterogeneous hydration hypothesis. Plant Cell & Environment 29: 729-745. 
  • Loveys BR, JJG Egerton and MC Ball (2006) Higher daytime leaf temperatures contribute to lower freeze tolerance under elevated CO2. Plant, Cell & Environment. 29: 1077-1086. 

All publications