Nicotra Group - Plant physiological ecology, plant evolutionary biology, reproductive ecology

Research in the Nicotra group applies novel approaches in plant comparative ecology to the study of evolutionary ecology and ecophysiology to give insights into patterns and processes underlying plant function at multiple scales.

We are interested in phenotypic plasticity - the range of forms a given genetic individual can exhibit under different environments - and when and how it evolves and when it matters. We also have a soft spot for alpine ecology and enjoy exploring the links between plant reproductive ecology and ecophysiology.

A wide range of projects are underway in the lab and most of these provide options for undergraduate, Honours or PhD projects - see our Research projects for more detail and feel free to contact us if you'd like more information.

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Selected publications

  • Briceño, V. F., D. Harris-Pascal, A. B. Nicotra, E. Williams and M. C. Ball (2014). "Variation in snow cover drives differences in frost resistance in seedlings of the alpine herb Aciphylla glacialis " Environmental and Experimental Botany in press.

    Cochrane, J. A., G. L. Hoyle, C. J. Yates, J. Wood and A. B. Nicotra (2014). "Predicting the impact of increasing temperatures on seed germination among populations of Western Australian Banksia (Proteaceae) " Seed Science Research.

    Cochrane, J. A., C. Yates, G. L. Hoyle and A. B. Nicotra (2014). "Will among-population variation in seed traits improve the chance of species persistence under climate change? ." Global Ecology and Biogeography in press.

    Cochrane, J. A., C. Yates, G. L. Hoyle and A. B. Nicotra (2014). "Climate warming delays and decreases seedling emergence in a Mediterranean ecosystem." Oikos.

    Cochrane, J. A., C. Yates, G. L. Hoyle and A. B. Nicotra (2014). "Among-population variation in seed traits: an overlooked advantage for species persistence under climate change? ." Global Ecology and Biogeography in press.

    Hoyle, G. L., H. Cordiner, R. B. Good and A. B. Nicotra (2014). "Effects of reduced winter duration on seed dormancy and germination in six populations of the alpine herb Aciphyllya glacialis (Apiaceae)." Conservation Physiology 2(1): cou015.

    Valladares, F., S. Matesanz, M. S. Araujo, L. Balaguer, M. Benito Garzon, W. K. Cornwell, E. Gianoli, F. Guilhaumon, M. van Kleunan, D. E. Naya, A. B. Nicotra , H. Poorter and M. A. Zavala (2014). "The effects of phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation on forecasts of species range shifts under climate change." Ecology Letters in press.

    Xie, H., J. E. Ash, C. C. Linde, S. Cunningham and A. Nicotra (2014). "Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau Uplift Drives Divergence of Polyploid Poppies: <italic>Meconopsis</italic> Viguier (Papaveraceae)." PLoS ONE 9(6): e99177.

    Alcorn, P. J., D. I. Forrester, R. G. B. Smith, D. S. Thomas, R. James, A. B. Nicotra and J. Bauhus (2013). "The influence of site quality on timing of pruning in Eucalyptus pilularis and Eucalyptus cloeziana plantations." Australian Forestry 76(1): 25-36.

    Alcorn, P. J., D. I. Forrester, R. G. B. Smith, D. S. Thomas, R. N. James, A. B. Nicotra and J. Bauhus (2013). "Crown structure and vertical foliage distribution in 4-year-old plantation-grown Eucalyptus pilularis and Eucalyptus cloeziana." Trees-Structure and Function 27(3): 555-566.

    Alcorn, P. J., D. I. Forrester, D. S. Thomas, R. James, R. G. B. Smith, A. B. Nicotra and J. Bauhus (2013). "Changes in Whole-Tree Water Use Following Live-Crown Pruning in Young Plantation-Grown Eucalyptus pilularis and Eucalyptus cloeziana." Forests 4(1): 106-121.

    Goh, C. H., D. F. V. Vallejos, A. B. Nicotra and U. Mathesius (2013). "The Impact of Beneficial Plant-Associated Microbes on Plant Phenotypic Plasticity." Journal of Chemical Ecology 39(7): 826-839.

    Gowland, K. M., M. M. van der Merwe, C. C. Linde, M. A. Clements and A. B. Nicotra (2013). "The host bias of three epiphytic Aeridinae orchid species is reflected, but not explained, by mycorrhizal fungal associations." American Journal of Botany 100(4): 764-777.

    Hoyle, G. L., S. E. Venn, K. J. Steadman, R. B. Good, E. J. McAuliffe, E. R. Williams and A. B. Nicotra (2013). "Soil warming increases plant species richness but decreases germination from the alpine soil seed bank." Global Change Biology 19: 1549-1561.

    Jones, C. S., H. I. Martinez-Cabrera, A. B. Nicotra, K. Mocko, E. M. Marais and C. D. Schlichting (2013). "Phylogenetic Influences on Leaf Trait Integration in Pelargonium (Geraniaceae) : Convergence, Divergence, and Historical Adaptation to a Rapidly Changing Climate." American Journal of Botany 100(7): 1306-1321.

    Richards, C. L., M. Boruta, O. Bossdorf, C. A. C. Coon, C. M. Foust, A. R. Hughes, H. J. Kilvitis, A. L. Liebl, A. B. Nicotra, M. Pigliucci, M. H. Robertson and A. W. Schrey (2013). "Epigenetic mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity." Integrative and Comparative Biology 53: E179-E179.

    Davidson, A. M. and A. B. Nicotra (2012). "Beware: alien invasion. Where to next for an understanding of weed ecology?" New Phytologist 194(3): 602-605.

    Leigh, A., S. Sevanto, M. C. Ball, J. D. Close, D. S. Ellsworth, C. A. Knight, A. B. Nicotra and S. Vogel (2012). "Do thick leaves avoid thermal damage in critically low wind speeds?" New Phytologist 194(2): 477-487.

    Davidson, A. M., M. Jennions and A. B. Nicotra (2011). "Do invasive species show higher phenotypic plasticity than native species and, if so, is it adaptive? A meta-analysis." Ecology Letters 14(4): 419-431.

    Gowland, K. M., J. T. Wood, M. A. Clements and A. B. Nicotra (2011). "Significant phorophyte (substrate) bias is not explained by fitness benefits in three epiphytic orchid species." American Journal of Botany.

    Leigh, A., M. A. Zwieniecki, F. E. Rockwell, C. K. Boyce, A. B. Nicotra and N. M. Holbrook (2011). "Structural and hydraulic correlates of heterophylly in Ginkgo biloba." New Phytologist 189(2): 459-470.

    Nicotra, A., A. Leigh, C. K. Boyce, C. D. Jones, K. J. Niklas, D. L. Royer and H. Tsukaya (2011). "The evolution and functional significance of leaf shape in the angiosperms." Functional Plant Biology 38: 535-552.

    Nicotra, A. B. and E. McIntosh (2011). "PrometheusWiki: online protocols gaining momentum." Functional Plant Biology 38(11): iii-v.

    Nicotra, A. B., O. K. Atkin, S. P. Bonser, A. M. Davidson, E. J. Finnegan, U. Mathesius, P. Poot, M. D. Purugganan, C. L. Richards, F. Valladares and M. van Kleunen (2010). "Plant phenotypic plasticity in a changing climate." Trends in Plant Science 15(12): 684-692.

    Nicotra, A. B. and A. Davidson (2010). "Adaptive phenotypic plasticity and plant water use." Functional Plant Biology 37(2): 117-127.

    Sack, L., W. K. Cornwell, L. S. Santiago, M. M. Barbour, B. Choat, J. R. Evans, R. Munns and A. B. Nicotra (2010). "A unique web resource for physiology,ecology and the environmental sciences: PrometheusWiki." Functional Plant Biology 37(8): 687-693.

Courtney Jones Lanfear EE Seminar

E&E Joint Webinar: Some benefits of blue sky and open phylogenetics research for understanding SARS-CoV-2

Event | Thu 9 July 2020
Having spent much of the last 15 years trying to improve molecular phylogenetics, I had formed the fairly firm view that my research was very interesting (of course!!!) but rather useless in the short term.
Courtney Jones Lanfear EE Seminar

E&E Joint Webinar: Walking in Wallacea: Expanding the species inventory on Buton Island, Sulawesi

Event | Thu 9 July 2020
The central islands of Indonesia, between Java, Bali and Kalimantan (Borneo) on the west and Papua on the east - are a living laboratory for the study of evolution, known as the Wallacea region.

Climate-driven range dynamics of mountain plant species

Event | Tue 30 April 2019

Mountains harbour disproportionately high biodiversity, including rare and endangered species, but are in general poorly protected.

Cool plants in a warming world – how warming changes alpine and Arctic plant communities

Event | Tue 19 February 2019

In cold biomes, the distribution of plant species and the composition of vegetation communities is strongly shaped by climatic conditions.

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: On growth and form of leaves in 3 dimensions: Applications of machine vision and advanced optics

Event | Fri 8 June 2018

Leaves have long been considered one of the hallmarks of angiosperm evolution and diversification.

E&E PhD Exit Seminar: We all know plant traits vary – but to what extent and does it matter?

Event | Fri 1 June 2018

Global climate change predictions include increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and an increase in the frequency of extreme even

Climate change in the Australian Alps

Climate change in the Australian Alps

Story | Thursday 8 April 2021
We met Professor Nicotra in the Snowy Mountains and asked what she learned from 2020.
Advanced Field Studies in Functional Ecology

Advanced studies in functional ecology

Story | Monday 4 March 2019
ANU biology students spent time in Singapore and Malaysia recently, on a field trip for the advanced studies in functional ecology course.
Bukit Timah, Singapore. Image Shoshana Rapley

Alexandra Catling - Travel Journal: Singapore and Malaysia

Story | Thursday 20 December 2018
Alexandra Catling indulges in her passion for scientific research on a trip to south east Asian forests. And discovers leeches.
Field Studies in Functional Ecology

Students in the field - Field studies in functional ecology, in the Daintree rainforest

Story | Tuesday 16 January 2018
The course introduces students to field studies in plant and animal functional ecology.