Dr Webber is researching the management of invasive plant species in a changing climate.
Dr Bruce Webber: researching invasive plants and future food security
Dr Bruce Webber is researching the impacts of global change on invasive plant species and developing adaptation options.
Dr Bruce Webber is a Research Scientist with CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences and the Climate Adaptation Flagship in Floreat, Western Australia, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia.
Dr Webber's current research explores the effect of rapid global change on plant-resource allocation and plant-ecosystem interactions. He focuses on two main areas: the effect of climate change on invasive plants and future food security.
His research on invasive plants includes assessing variation in the competitive ability of invasive species, the interaction of alien plants with their recipient ecosystems, and plant range studies based on modelling climatic and ecophysiological parameters.
His research on food security examines the effect of climate change on yield and nutritional value in globally important crops and how best to adapt cropping to future climates.
Dr Webber works closely with Dr John Scott and maintains active research collaborations with external institutions in Australia and overseas, including France, South Africa, Fiji, Cameroon, Columbia and Indonesia.
Dr Webber began his research career working in the rainforests of North Queensland, investigating plant-animal interactions and plant defence mechanisms in the rare Australian tree, Ryparosa kurrangii
This work spanned the three areas of botanical ecophysiology (plant defence chemistry, environmental regulation of resource partitioning), plant systematics (phenetic taxonomy) and plant-animal interactions (ant-plant symbioses, herbivory, frugivory, pollination).
Dr Webber applies his areas of core research expertise to the issue of climate change adaptation for biodiversity conservation and food security.
He has held postdoctoral appointments at the University of East Anglia (Norwich, United Kingdom), with the CNRS at the Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (Montpellier, France) where he was awarded a Marie Curie Research Fellowship (2006–08), and with the CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship.
Dr Webber joined CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences in 2009.
Dr Webber's ongoing research interests include:
- invasive species dynamics and the influence of life history traits on competitive ability
- plant resource allocation as influenced by rapid global change
- plant defence mechanisms, particularly cyanogenesis and ant-plant mutualisms
- multi-trophic interactions and the characterisation of ecosystem interaction webs
- the influence of plant-frugivore and plant-pollinator interactions on plant population dynamics
- systematics of Achariaceae (Flacourtiaceae pro parte), particularly Ryparosa.
Dr Webber has been awarded a:
- Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours, majoring in botany and environmental science at The University of Melbourne, Australia, in 1999
- Doctor of Philosophy from the School of Botany at The University of Melbourne, Australia, in 2005.
Dr Webber's doctoral thesis included research on plant ecophysiology, ecosystem dynamics, plant-animal interactions and plant taxonomy for a rare rainforest tree species.
Dr Webber has been the recipient of or been awarded:
- the Australian Institute of Policy & Science Western Australian Young Tall Poppy science award, 2011
- the CSIRO John Philip award for excellence in young scientists, 2011
- best student paper in the journal Australian Systematic Botany, 2007
- a Marie Curie Intra-European Individual Research Fellowship, 2006
- best student presentation at the Ecophysiology of Australasian Plants & Ecosystems conference, 2003
- the G.A.M. Scott Research Award in postgraduate botany, 2002
- an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship, 2000
- the University of Melbourne Dean’s Honours List for academic achievement, 1999
- the Bruce Knox Honours Prize in botany, 1999.
He is also:
- an Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Plant Biology at the University of Western Australia
- a member of the Australian Society of Plant Scientists
- a member of the Weeds Society of Western Australia
- a member of the Australian Scientists in Schools program with Carey Baptist College.
Dr Webber's publications include 16 first-author papers in a range of peer-reviewed international journals. His research has been featured in the popular media (New Scientist, Australasian Science, ABC Radio National) in a widely used textbook (Heinemann Biology 1) and his research on cassowaries is often featured on zoo information panels.