I’m part garden designer, part naturalist and part 21st century plant ecologist, with a trusty toolkit of field tape, hand lens, a well worn 2B pencil and some new and powerful statistical modelling methods.
My current research interests are 1) What is best practice for creating thriving, sustainable gardens in the face of climate change (i.e. optimising plant survival, minimising water-use, and balancing the trade-offs between fire-risk and wildlife habitat); 2) how can we design gardens that meet the needs of people (i.e. encourage people to linger and grow food) while enhancing the biodiversity of urban and peri-urban environments?
Gardens are where people can connect with nature in their day-to-day life. From experience, I believe that inspiring and informing the public about sustainable garden practices has a significant, positive impact on how people value the natural world.
Mingling my ecological expertise with garden design has been a recent career push. You can read more about my current research and writings at Emerging Landscapes.
Prior to this, my research has focussed on community ecology, statistical modelling, functional traits, vegetation management and the ecology of cryptogams. I completed my PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2014.
For my PhD I had the great fortune to be supervised by Dr Peter Vesk of QAECO and Dr Jane Elith of ACERA, both in the School of Botany. I investigated the community ecology of biocrusts in semiarid woodlands of southern Australia. Biocrusts (biological soil crusts) are diverse and functionally important communities of bryophytes, lichens, algae, fungi and cyanobacteria that carpet the soil between trees, shrubs and grasses. I investigated how biocrusts recover from livestock trampling, what drives their distribution and dynamics, how best to measure them in rapid ecological surveys, and what is their role in vegetation recruitment. I’ve also been thinking a lot about the functional traits of cryptogams.
I’ve worked in the past on a mixed bag of subjects including: trade-offs in canopy architecture; state of the environment reporting; disaster loss assessment; and, citizen science.
If you’d like to get in touch you can email me at cassiaread’at’gmail.com