The face, head and shoulders of Dr Jennifer Firn.

Dr Jennifer Firn, restoration ecologist.

Dr Jennifer Firn: conserving biodiversity in production landscapes

Dr Jennifer Firn is working to conserve biodiversity in production landscapes and quantify the role biodiversity plays in key ecosystem functions such as hydrological and nutrient cycling.

  • 12 March 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Jennifer Firn is developing a novel theoretical approach to understanding the relationship between biodiversity and productivity by integrating the functional role of species with the effects of disturbance, competition and environmental variability.

The two main aims of her current research are:

  • building an ecological framework to better predict responses of Australian herbaceous plant communities to top-down (grazing) and bottom up (soil nutrients) effects, by comparing the results of Australian experiments with a global data-base of identical experiments (Nutrient Network)
  • developing and testing ecological theory to predict invasion along disturbance and productivity gradients, by developing a novel functional diversity model of plant invasibility along productivity and disturbance gradients, under different invasion pathways.

She is also investigating methods to quantify the role of biodiversity in key ecosystem functions such as hydrological and nutrient cycling. 

Dr Firn uses multiple tools to collect data and analyse her research including empirical studies (factorial field trials, glasshouse studies), mathematical modelling and decision theory analyses.


Dr Firn joined CSIRO in February, 2009 shortly after submitting her doctoral thesis at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, in January 2009.

Dr Firn has demonstrated her expertise as an ecologist through receiving numerous awards.

Dr Firn holds a three year postdoctoral fellowship and is supervised by Dr Yvonne Buckley and Dr Suzanne Prober.

Dr Firn developed strong community networks as a result of her doctoral research aimed at developing a better understanding of the invasion of Eragrostis curvula (African Lovegrass) and the effect different control strategies have on its persistence.

She has had invitations to speak to several community groups including:

  • Millmerran Land Care Weed Information evening
  • an African Lovegrass workshop organised by K2C.

Academic qualifications

Dr Firn has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Education, University of Queensland, Australia, 2003
  • Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Ecology, University of Queensland, 2006 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Ecology at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, 2009. 


Dr Firn has demonstrated her expertise as an ecologist through receiving numerous awards. 

She actively contributes as a referee and participates in several ecological and scientific organisations.

She has been invited to speak to community groups which has lead to succesful collaboration on projects.

Recently Dr Firn was:

  • invited to be an associate Editor with the Journal of Plant Ecology, 2010
  • invited to be an associate Editor with the tier one international journal, Journal of Applied Ecology, 2009
  • selected by Griffith University Asia Pacific Institute, Queensland Government and Peking University to attend an Emerging Leaders Dialogue in Beijing China, 2009.

Dr Firn was selected from a large number of candidates to attend a Graduate training course on Ecological Modelling, Leipzig Germany, Marie Curie Series of Events in 2008.

She has been awarded:

  • a highly competitive University of Queensland (UQ) BACS Postgraduate Conference Travel Award, 2008 
  • the Best student talk prize on a restoration topic, Ecological Society of Australia Conference, Sydney, 2008 
  • a Science and Innovation Award for Young People, Department of Agricultural Fisheries and Forestry and the Bureau of Rural Sciences, 2007 
  • a Smart State Award for Women in 2007, Postgraduate category as a group entry.

Dr Firn is a Member of ecological and scientific organisations and invited student member of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), Ecological Society of America, Ecological Society of Australia, and the Tropical Grassland Society.

Please read more about Biodiversity & Ecology research in CSIRO.