Node leader: Jean W.H. Yong
Objectives: Train researchers to use quantitative ecophysiological traits to assess plant function and plant condition, in order to support management decisions about how to design resilient restoration communities and substrates, as well as monitor restoration success.
Outcomes: Assessment of the plant and soil features that determine local species’ niches to design appropriate substrates and matching species for self-sustainable restoration systems; Planning tools to enhance restoration success based on seasonal climatic conditions, optimised soil moisture, nurse species concept; Protocols for monitoring and evaluating restoration trajectory in relation to self-sustainability and mine closure targets.
by Wei San Wong
Globally, importance of soil biological properties such as microbial composition and the benefits conferred to soils and plants were often undervalued in mine site restoration. Microorganisms have been widely reported to be beneficial on agricultural crops. These benefits include growth stimulation, increased nutrient uptake, plant tolerance against abiotic stress such as drought etc., which are induced by microbial signals, such as phytohormones and enzymes. Some of these beneficial microorganisms are also present in natural soil systems and may confer similar benefits via various microbial signals such as phytohormones, phytohoromone precursors or metabolites that have yet been identified. Furthermore these microorganisms may play an important role in rebuilding ecosystems, particularly in stressful post mining situations, however this is to be determined. PhD student Wei San Wong is investigating if microorganisms with similar abilities can be identified and isolated from the Western Australian natural systems and the mechanisms involved in the positive effects of microorganisms on the plants and explore how these findings can be integrated to improve mine site restoration strategies.
Non-invasive methods to assess plant physiological condition have been developed at different scales, from leaf to ecosystem, to inform different processes. Among them, near-surface remote sensing techniques provide the adequate spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions to accurately validate the relationships between proxy indicators of plant health derived from sensed data and real changes in plant physiology measured through traditional plant physiological techniques. PhD student Jaume Ruscalleda is exploring the potential of non-invasive methods to assess plant health in the context of diverse plant communities’ restoration.