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.

Climate crisis puts Australia’s ski industry on slippery slope, but not all hope is lost

Story | Wednesday 5 June 2024
Australia’s ski industry is at risk of major disruptions and shorter seasons if the current level of climate pollution continues, according to new modelling from Protect Our Winters Australia (POW) and The Australian National University (ANU).
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.

Two weeks in the rainforest: undergraduate field trip to the Daintree

Story | Tuesday 25 July 2017
Thirty-three undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds spent 2 weeks in Cape Tribulation, north of Cairns, this month, as part of the BIOL 2203/3303, Field studies in functional ecology course.
Professor Slatyer (as Australian Ambassador to UNESCO ) with NSW Premier Neville Wran, at Lake Mungo, c 1981

Alpine trees

Story | Tuesday 16 May 2017
ANU has a long history of pioneering research into alpine trees. The work Professor Ralph Slatyer undertook in the 1970's was used to show that the tree line was defined by temperature, not altitude, which explains why Australia has a lower tree line than most other countries.

Form follows function - or does it?

Story | Thursday 23 February 2017
Functional Ecology undergraduate field trip

Video: Functional Ecology field trip to Kosciuszko National Park

Story | Monday 16 January 2017
2016 Functional Ecology undergraduate field trip, made by RSB's own Pip Beale.

Big Questions in Biology - podcast now available

Story | Tuesday 6 September 2016
Did you miss the inaugural RSB public forum?&nbsp;Click here to listen


Updated:  26 June 2024/Responsible Officer:  Web Services/Page Contact:  Web Services