Room 410, D26 Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052
Research & Current Projects
My primary research goal is to quantify the ecological strategies employed by plant species in different environments, and to better understand the selective processes underlying global patterns in ecological strategy.
1) The World Herbivory Project (with Bill Foley, Ian Wallis, and 47 other collaborators)
We established 75 study sites in natural ecosystems all around the world, including rainforest in the Congo, China and Peru; desert in Israel and Arizona; tundra in Patagonia, Alaska and Greenland, and savanna in Zambia, South Africa and Australia. At each site we measured environmental conditions, plant physical and chemical defences, herbivore abundance and herbivory. We are using these data to answer a range of fundamental questions, such as “Are interactions between plants and animals more intense in the tropics?” and “Are tropical plants better defended than are plants at higher latitudes?”
2) The ecology of invasive species (with Dick Frankham and Bill Sherwin)
Introduced species are a major threat to global biodiversity. They also provide a fascinating system for studying the way plants adapt to life in a new environment. We are measuring changes in form, function and genetic make-up of introduced species since their arrival in Australia. Quantifying the rate and direction of evolution will increase our understanding of the invasion process, and help us estimate how quickly plants might be able to adapt to future climate change. We will ask whether populations of introduced plants are becoming reproductively isolated from populations of the species in their native range. It is possible that introduced species are on their way to becoming new native Australian taxa.
3) The advantages of clonal vs sexual reproduction (with Stephen Bonser)
We are using plants to provide novel tests of the idea that sex helps species escape from their parasites and pathogens, and that sexual species are faster to adapt to changed environmental conditions than are clonal species. This research will help predict how plants will respond to future changes in climate and parasite pressure.
See Also Big Ecology Lab
Dr Zhang Hongxiang, visiting scholar – global patterns in clonal vs sexual reproduction
Dr Monica Awasthy, research assistant
Marianne Tindall, research assistant
Claire Brandenburger, PhD candidate - Rapid evolution in introduced species
Chen Sichong, PhD candidate - Seed size and seed dispersal
Rhiannon Dalrymple, PhD candidate - Patterns of colour diversity across communities
Habacuc Flores Moreno, PhD candidate - Ecological mechanisms and evolutionary patterns in invasive species.
Floret Meredith, PhD candidate – Plant-animal interactions on islands vs the mainland.
Ray Blick, PhD (2012) - Understanding variability and connectivity in plant communities
Fiona Thomson (PhD 2011) Investigating seed dispersal at local (Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Australia) and larger scales.
Laura Warman (PhD 2011) Two systems or one? Vegetation dynamics in Australia's Wet Tropics.
Marianne Tindall (BSc hons, 2012) –Is there a latitudinal gradient in the proportion of species with spines?
Timothy Hitchcock, (BSc hons) – Global patterns in plant longevity
Tom Meredith, (BSc hons) – Defences against herbivores on land and in the sea.
BIOS3061 Plant Ecology
Lanfear, R., Ho, S.Y.W., Davies, T.J., Moles, A.T., Aarssen, L., Swenson, N.G., Warman, L., Zanne, A., Allen, A.P. (in press) Rates of molecular evolution are linked to height in plants: the rate of mitosis hypothesis. Nature communications.
Moles, A.T. (2013) Dogmatic is problematic: Interpreting evidence for latitudinal gradients in herbivory and defence. Ideas in Ecology and Evolution 6:1-4.PDF
Warman, L., Moles, A.T. & Bradford, M.G. (in press) A broad approach to abrupt boundaries: Looking beyond the boundary at soil attributes within and across tropical vegetation.PLOS One.
Bartle, K., Moles, A.T. & Bonser, S.P. (in press) No evidence for rapid evolution of seed dispersal ability in range edge populations of the invasive species Senecio madagascariensis. Austral Ecology.
Moles, A.T., Peco, B., Wallis, I.R., Foley, W.J., Poore, A.G.B., Bisigato, A.J., Cella-Pizarro, L., Clark, C.J., Cohen, P.S., Cornwell, W.K., Edwards, W., Ejrnaes, R., Gonzales-Ojeda, T., Graae, B.J., Hay, G., Lumbwe, F., Magaña-Rodríguez, B., Moore, B.D., Peri, P.L., Poulsen, J.R., Stegen, J.C., Veldtman, R., von Zeipel, H., Andrew, N.R., Boulter, S.L., Borer, E.T., Fernández Campón, F., Coll, M., Farji-Brener, A.G., De Gabriel, J., Jurado, E., Kyhn, L.A., Low, B., Mulder, C.P.H., Reardon-Smith, K., Rodríguez-Velázquez, J., Seabloom, E.W., Vesk, P.A., van Cauter, A., Waldram, M.S., Zheng, Z., Blendinger, P.G., Enquist, B.J., Facelli, J.M., Knight, T., Majer, J.D., Martinez-Ramos, M., McQuillan, P., Prior, L.D., Hui, F.K.C. (2013) Correlations between physical and chemical defences in plants: Trade-offs, syndromes, or just many different ways to skin a herbivorous cat?New Phytologist 198: 252-263.
Blick, R.A.J., Burns, K.C. Moles, A.T. (in press) Dominant network interactions are not correlated with resource availability: a case study using mistletoe-host interactions.Oikos.
Blick, R.A.J, Burns, K.C. & Moles, A.T. (2012) Predicting network topology of mistletoe-host interactions: do mistletoes really mimic their hosts? Oikos 121:761-771.
Moles, A.T., Flores-Moreno, H., Bonser, S.P., Warton, D.I., Helm, A., Warman, L., Eldridge, D.J., Jurado, E., Hemmings, F.A., Reich, P.B., Cavender-Bares, J., Seabloom, E.W., Mayfield, M.M., Sheil, D., Djietror, J.C., Peri, P.L., Enrico, L., Cabido, M.R., Setterfield, S.A., Lehmann, C.E.R, Thomson, F.J. (2012) Invasions: the trail behind, the path ahead, and a test of a disturbing idea. Journal of Ecology 100: 116-127.
Swenson, N., Enquist, B., Pither, J., Kerkhoff, A., Boyle, B., Weiser, M., Elser, J., Fagan, W., Forero-Montana, J., Fyllas, N., Kraft, N., Lake, J., Moles, A.T., Patino, S., Phillips, O., Price, C., Reich, P., Quesada, C., Stegen, J., Valencia, R, Wright, I.J., Weight, S.J., Andelman, S., Jørgensen, P., Lacher, T.E., Menteagudo, A., Núñez-Vargas, M.P., Vasquez-Martínez, R., Nolting, K. (2012). The biogeography and filtering of woody plant functional diversity in North and South America. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 798–808.
Thomson, F.J., Moles, A.T., Auld, T.D., Kingsford, R. (2011) Seed dispersal distance is more strongly correlated with plant height than with seed mass. Journal of Ecology 99: 1299-1307.
Moles, A.T., Wallis, I.R., Foley, W.J., Warton, D.I., Stegen, J.C., Bisigato, A.J., Cella-Pizarro, L., Clark, C.J., Cohen, P.S., Cornwell, W.K., Edwards, W., Ejrnaes, R., Gonzales-Ojeda, T., Graae, B.J., Hay, G., Lumbwe, F.C., Magaña-Rodríguez, B., Moore, B.D., Peri, P.L., Poulsen, J.R., Veldtman, R., von Zeipel, H., Andrew, N.R., Boulter, S.L., Borer, E.T., Fernández Campón, F., Coll, M., Farji-Brener, A.G., De Gabriel, J., Jurado, E., Kyhn, L., Low, B., Mulder, C.P.H., Reardon-Smith, K., Rodríguez-Velázquez, J., Seabloom, E.W., Vesk, P.A., van Cauter, A., Waldram, M.S., Zheng, Z., Blendinger, P.G., Enquist, B.J., Facelli, J.M., Knight, T., Majer, J.D., Martínez-Ramos, M., McQuillan, P., Prior, L.D. (2011) Putting plant resistance traits on the map: a test of the idea that plants are better defended at lower latitudes. New Phytologist 191: 777-788.
Kattge, J and 128 others including Moles, A.T. (2011) TRY: A global database of plant traits. Global Change Biology 17: 2905-2935.
Warman, L., Moles, A.T. & Edwards, W. (2011) Not so simple after all: Searching for the ecological advantages of compound leaves. Oikos 120: 813-821.
Gallagher, R.V., Leishman, M.R. & Moles, A.T. (2011) Traits and ecological strategies of tropical and extratropical climbing plants. Journal of Biogeography 38: 828-839.
Moles, A.T., Bonser, S.P., Poore, A.G.B., Wallis, I.R., Foley, W.J. (2011) Assessing the evidence for latitudinal gradients in plant defence and herbivory. Functional Ecology 25: 380-388.
Buswell, J.M., Moles, A.T. & Hartley, S (2011) Is rapid evolution common in introduced plant species? Journal of Ecology 99: 214-224.
Thomson, F.J., Moles, A.T., Auld, T.D., Ramp, D., Ren, S. & Kingsford, R. (2010) Chasing the unknown - predicting seed dispersal mechanisms from plant traits.Journal of Ecology98: 1310-1318.
Moles, A. T., Warton, D. I., Warman, L., Swenson, N. G., Laffan, S. W., Zanne, A. E., Pitman, A., Hemmings, F. A. & Leishman, M. R. (2009). Global patterns in plant height.Journal of Ecology 97: 923-932.
Edwards, W. & Moles, A. T. (2009). Re-contemplate an entangled bank: The Power of Movement in Plants revisited. The Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 160: 111-118.
Moles A. T.; Wright I. J.; Pitman A. J.; Murray, B. R. & Westoby, M. (2009) Is there a latitudinal gradient in seed production? Ecography 32: 78-82.
Warman, L. & Moles A.T (2009) Alternative stable states in Australia's wet tropics: a theoretical framework for the field data and a field case for the theory. Landscape Ecology 24: 1-13.
Westoby, M.; Moles, A. T. & Falster D. S. (2009) Evolutionary coordination between offspring size at independence and adult size.Journal of Ecology 97: 23-26.
Moles, A. T. & Leishman, M. R. (2008) The seedling as part of a plant's life history strategy. In: Leck, M. A.; Parker, V. T. & Simpson, R. L. (eds) Seedling Ecology and Evolution. Cambridge University Press.
Mason, R.; Cooke, J.; Moles A.T & Leishman, M. R. (2008) Reproductive output of invasive versus native plants. Global Ecology and Biogeography 17: 633-640.
Falster, D. S.; Moles, A. T.; Westoby, M. (2008) A general model for the scaling of offspring size and adult size. The American Naturalist 172: 299-317.
Moles, A. T., Gruber, M. & Bonser, S. P. (2008) A new framework for predicting invasive plant species. Journal of Ecology 96: 13-17.