Dr David Pepper
Academic Visitor
Contact details:
0438 518 351
Research & Current Projects


Ecosystem science; ecophysiology of plants; soil processes; water use and cycling of carbon and nutrients through ecosystems; socio-ecological systems; futures; sustainability


Currently I am focussing on socio-ecological systems, generating latest publications on futures and scenario development, under a broad sustainability theme. I have sustained interests in using optimisation modelling to explore mechanisms linking ecosystem responses to given environmental conditions and to changes in those conditions. I am also interested in using stable isotopes to understand whole plant and ecosystem function.




Pepper, D.A., Lada, H., Thomson, J.R., Bakar, K.S., Lake, P.S., Mac Nally, R. (2017) A method to identify drivers of societal change likely to affect natural assets in the future, illustrated with Australia's native biodiversity. Science of the Total Environment, 581-582, pp. 80-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.112

Pepper, D.A., Lada, H., Thomson, J.R., Bakar, K.S., Lake, P.S., Mac Nally, R. (2017) Potential future scenarios for Australia's native biodiversity given on-going increases in human population. Science of the Total Environment, 576, pp. 381-390. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.10.021

Ladd, B., Peri, P.L., Pepper, D.A., Silva, L.C.R., Sheil, D., Bonser, S.P., Laffan, S.W., Amelung, W., Ekblad, A., Eliasson, P., Bahamonde, H., Duarte-Guardia, S., Bird, M. (2014) Carbon isotopic signatures of soil organic matter correlate with leaf area index across woody biomes.  Journal of Ecology, 102 (6), pp. 1606-1611. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12309

McMurtrie, R.E., Iversen, C.M., Dewar, R.C., Medlyn, B.E., Näsholm, T., Pepper, D.A., Norby, R.J. (2012) Plant root distributions and nitrogen uptake predicted by a hypothesis of optimal root foraging. Ecology and Evolution, 2 (6), pp. 1235-1250.  DOI: 10.1002/ece3.266

Peri, P.L., Ladd, B., Pepper, D.A., Bonser, S.P., Laffan, S.W., Amelung, W. (2012) Carbon (δ 13C) and nitrogen (δ 15N) stable isotope composition in plant and soil in Southern Patagonia's native forests. Global Change Biology, 18 (1), pp. 311-321. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02494.x

Ladd B, Pepper DA, Bonser SP (2009) Competition intensity at local versus regional spatial scales. Plant Biology 12: 772-779 (doi:10.1111/j.1438-8677.2009.00289.x)

Liu J-H, Zeng D-H, Chen G-S, Fan Z-P, Pepper DA (2009) Leaf traits indicate survival strategies among 42 dominant plant species in a dry, sandy habitat, China. Frontiers of Biology in China 4: 477-485 (DOI 10.1007/s11515-009-0034-5).

Ladd B, Bonser SP, Peri PL, Larsen J, Laffan SW, Pepper DA, Cendon D (2009) Towards a physical description of habitat: quantifying environmental adversity (abiotic stress) in temperate forest and woodland ecosystems. Journal of Ecology 97: 964-971 (accepted, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2745.2009.01530.x)

Pepper DA, McMurtrie RE, Medlyn BE, Keith H, Eamus D (2008) Mechanisms linking plant productivity and water status for a temperate Eucalyptus forest flux site: analysis over wet and dry years with a simple model. Functional Plant Biology 35: 493-508.

McMurtrie RE, Norby RJ, Medlyn BE, Dewar RC, Pepper DA, Reich PB, Barton CVM (2008) Why is plant-growth response to elevated CO2 amplified when water is limiting but reduced when nitrogen is limiting? A growth-optimisation hypothesis. Functional Plant Biology 35: 521-534.

Hu YL, Zeng DH, Fan ZP, Chen GS, Zhao Q, Pepper DA (2008) Changes in ecosystem carbon stocks following grassland afforestation of semiarid sandy soil in the southeastern Keerqin Sandy Lands, China. Journal of Arid Environments 72: 2193-2200.

Medlyn BE, Pepper DA, O’Grady AP, Keith H (2007) Linking leaf and tree water use with an individual-tree model. Tree Physiology 27: 1687-1699.

Pepper DA, Eliasson PE, McMurtrie RE, Corbeels M, Ågren GI, Strömgren M, Linder S (2006) Simulated mechanisms of soil N feedback on the forest CO2 response. Global Change Biology 13: 1265-1281.

Corbeels M, McMurtrie RE, Pepper DA, Mendham DS, Grove TS and O'Connell AM (2005) Long-term changes in productivity of eucalypt plantations under different harvest residue and nitrogen management practices: A modelling analysis. ForestEcology and Management 217: 1-18.

Corbeels M, McMurtrie RE, Pepper DA and O'Connell AM (2005) A process-based model of nitrogen cycling in forest plantations Part I. Structure, calibration and analysis of the decomposition model. Ecological Modelling 187: 426-448.

Corbeels M, McMurtrie RE, Pepper DA and O'Connell AM (2005) A process-based model of nitrogen cycling in forest plantations Part II. Simulating growth and nitrogen mineralisation of Eucalyptus globulus plantations in south-western Australia.Ecological Modelling 187: 449-474.

Pepper DA, Del Grosso SJ, McMurtrie RE, Parton WJ (2005) Simulated carbon sink response of shortgrass steppe, tallgrass prairie and forest ecosystems to rising [CO2], temperature and nitrogen input. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 19: GB1004, 1-20.

Eliasson PE, McMurtrie RE, Pepper DA, Strömgren M, Linder S, Ågren GI (2005) The response of heterotrophic CO2 flux to soil warming. Global Change Biology 11:167-181.



Wang Y-P, McMurtrie RE, Medlyn BE, Pepper DA (2006) Chapter 8: Issues in modelling plant ecosystem responses to elevated CO2: interactions with soil nitrogen. In JIL Morison and MD Morecroft (eds) Plant growth and climate change, Wiley-Blackwell, p 230.

Norby RJ, Rustad LE, Dukes JS, Ojima DS, Parton WJ, Del Grosso SJ, McMurtrie RE,Pepper DA (2007) Chapter 3: Ecosystem Responses to Warming and Interacting Global Change Factors. In Canadell J, Pataki D, Pitelka L (eds) Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World, Springer-Verlag, p 336.



Kirschbaum MUF, Carter JO, Grace PR, Keating BA, Keenan RJ, Landsberg JJ, McKeon GM, Moore AD, Paul KI, Pepper DA, Probert ME, Richards GP, Sands PJ, Skjemstad JO (2001) Brief description of several models for simulating net ecosystem exchange in Australia. In “Net Ecosystem Exchange” (Workshop Proceedings April 2001) (Eds Kirschbaum MUF, Mueller R) CRC for Greenhouse Accounting, Canberra, pp 8-29.

Roxburg S, Barton C, Battaglia M, Corbeels M, Eamus D, Evans J, Gifford R, Henry B, Keenan R, Krull E, Medlyn B, Pepper D, Skjemstad J, Tate K (2001) Rapporteur Reports. In “Net Ecosystem Exchange” (Workshop Proceedings April 2001) (Eds Kirschbaum MUF, Mueller R) CRC for Greenhouse Accounting, Canberra, pp 130-134.

Pepper DA, Francey R, Farquhar GD, Barbetti M, Allaway WG (2000) Investigation of the long term physiological response of Huon pine (Lagarostrobos franklinii) to changes in atmospheric CO2 and climate using stable isotopes. Environment Australia, Australian Commonwealth Government.



Pepper DA (2010) Optimisation modelling and measurement integration for forest canopies – important uncertainties affecting carbon balance. IUFRO Meeting held at Falls Creek Victoria & Tarraleah Tasmania, Australia.

Pepper DA, McMurtrie RE, Norby R (2009) Optimisation modelling predicts leaf trait variation and response to elevated CO2, AGU Fall Meeting, held at San Francisco, USA.

Pepper DA, McMurtrie RE, Norby R (2009) The forest response to elevated CO2 - insights from optimisation modelling, Combio2009, held at Christchurch, New Zealand.

Pepper DA, McMurtrie RE, Medlyn BE (2007) Water effects at Tumbarumba flux site, Ecofizz 2007, 25-26 September, University of Western Sydney, Australia (Poster & Talk)

Bonser S, Ladd B & Pepper DA (2007) Mechanisms of competitive ability in Eucalyptusseedlings across a rainfall gradient. 49th Annual Conference of the International Association for Vegetation Science, 12-16 February 2007, Palmerston North, New Zealand (Poster)

Pepper DA, Medlyn BE (2002) Seasonal and diurnal variation of leaf gas exchange in a tall Eucalyptus delegatensis forest, EucProd 2002, Hobart, Australia (Poster)

Corbeels M, McMurtrie RE, Pepper DA (2002) Impact of harvest management practices on the sustained productivity of short-rotation eucalypt plantations: A modelling perspective, EucProd 2002, Hobart, Australia (Poster)

Pepper DA, McMurtrie RE, Medlyn BE, Owensby CE, Linder S (2001) Forest and grassland C sink response to CO2, temperature and N fixation, IPCC Open Science Conference (Poster)