The Centre For Water Research

Past CWR Seminars

CWR Seminar: Long-term ecosystem development and terrestrial plant diversity
Date 29/10/2014 at 16:00:00
Venue Blakers Lecture Room, Ground Floor, Mathematics Building, The University of Western Australia.
Speaker Etienne Laliberté, Assistant Professor, School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia (M090)

Over tens of thousands of years, soils gradually lose plant nutrients, especially phosphorus (P). This long-term process of soil formation, which strongly influences vegetation and ecosystem processes, can only be studied by using natural gradients of soil age – also called ‘soil chronosequences’.

However, fewer than 10 of these long-term soil chronosequences have currently been described. In this talk, I will present some recent results from our studies of a unique 2-million year coastal dune chronosequence near Jurien Bay in south-western Australia.

The Jurien Bay chronosequence provides one of the strongest soil fertility gradients ever recorded and is located in the middle of a global biodiversity hotspot. I will show how this sequence of dunes helped us to understand how plants adapt to low soil fertility, and how soils affect plant biodiversity.


Etienne Laliberte, has completed a BSc in Botany (1998-2002) at McGill University (Canada). He then worked for two years at the Montréal Botanical Garden, where he was in charge of educational activities. In 2004, He went back to school and completed a MSc in Ecology (2004-2006) at Université de Montréal (Canada).

His MSc research explored different scenarios for forest restoration on abandoned agricultural land. Following completion of my MSc, He then moved to New Zealand to complete a PhD in Ecology (2007-2010) at the University of Canterbury.

His PhD research focused on the links between land-use change, plant functional diversity, and ecosystem functioning in grasslands. he joined the School of Plant Biology as Assistant Professor in October 2010, and was awarded a three-year UWA Research Fellowship in 2011. In 2012, Etienne was awarded a three-year ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA).

PS* This seminar is free and open to the public & no RSVP required.

****All Welcome****

Facilitator Clelia Marti
Organiser Askale Abebe
Student Host Dawn Dickinson

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