Understanding the drivers of plant population dynamics is essential for effectively managing threatened species to reduce their risk of extinction. Many plant species in fire-prone regions persist by maintaining seeds within a soil seed bank, which germinate in response to fire cues.

However, plant species like Zieria can have extremely complex dormancy-breaking requirements. Without an understanding of their dormancy mechanisms, it’s difficult to effectively manage or utilise species in situ and ex situ conservation programmes.


To unravel the complex dormancy mechanisms of Zieria, you’ll undertake a series of experiments using fire and seasonal temperature cues in order to understand:

  1. How to make these species germinate.
  2. How season and temperature interact to determine the magnitude and timing of post-fire recruitment.

The project: “How does Season & Fire Influence Germination of Threatened  Zieria Species?” is undertaken in collaboration with the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

During this project, you’ll ask the following questions:

  1. How important are fire and seasonal cues for promoting germination?
  2. What implications does this have for managing these species with fire?

Student benefits

You’ll join a growing lab group focused on plant ecology, fire and conservation biology. You’ll also gain a solid grounding in experimental design, lab and field skills, analysis and writing. During weekly discussions with your supervisor and the broader lab group, you’ll improve your experience in communication.

Many of our projects are connected to industry partners, including the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Botanic Gardens (Mt Annan and ANBG Canberra). For those thinking of employment down the track, there’s opportunity to see how research is connected to these institutions and conservation in general.

Links to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and the Botanic Gardens have proven valuable. All previous honours students have moved on to rewarding positions, including:

  • Current PhD candidates (at UNSW and Curtin).
  • Senior Scientist at OEH.
  • Environmental Consultant.
  • Science Teacher.
  • Sustainability Coordinator.

Get involved

To learn more about this project, contact Dr Mark Ooi.

T: +61 2 9385 2066