Dr Rachel Standish

Senior Lecturer - Ecology

About me

I have a broad interest in ecology and its application to the management and restoration of native ecosystems. My research is grounded in theory but driven by an interest in developing practical outcomes for restoration in our rapidly changing world. I use an experimental and conceptual approach to research that is informed by my observations of what occurs in nature. My research fits into three broad themes: 1) Impacts of global changes on native ecosystems, 2) Community assembly and 3) Tools and concepts for the restoration and management of native ecosystems. A major focus of my current research is the application of the resilience concept to environmental management.

Teaching area

I co-ordinate and teach Ecology (ENV241) with Professor Neil Loneragan in second semester. I co-ordinate and teach Advanced Research Methods for Scientists (VLS683) with Dr Joe Fontaine in second semester. I guest lecture in Environmental Restoration (ENV324/624).

Research areas

Community assembly, ecological thresholds, seedling recruitment, resilience, restoration ecology, urban ecology

Current projects

For information about my current research projects please visit: http://www.murdoch.edu.au/Research-capabilities/Terrestrial-Ecology/

Student opportunities

I welcome students to come and talk to me about their research interests and longer-term career goals so that I can develop a project to suit. The following projects are indicative of the types of research projects students can complete with my supervision; and can be modified according to the program of study (i.e., honours, MSc, PhD). Students will be co-supervised by other members of the Terrestrial Ecology Research Group and/or researchers based elsewhere.

Do wildlife use restoration plantings?

The development of a voluntary carbon market over the last two decades has offered an unprecedented opportunity to expand ecological restoration of Australia’s degraded agricultural landscapes. To date, research has largely and understandably focused on improving recruitment from direct seeding, the most practical technique for large-scale restoration. While improvements in restoration practice are ongoing, attention has turned to additional research needs such as the potential of mature (i.e., 10–100 years of age) plantings to benefit wildlife. Research projects could be developed to measure different benefits depending on the interests and skills of the student. For example, a student interested in field work could assess the habitat value for Carnaby’s cockatoo (co-supervised by Dr Joe Fontaine) whereas a student interested in spatial analysis could assess the connectivity outcomes of restoration (co-supervised by Dr Halina Kobryn).

Plant species persistence in old landscapes

Recent theory predicts that resilience to fragmentation might be evident among the species that live on old landscapes such as those in south-western Australia. In agricultural landscapes, however, fragmentation is often accompanied by
other forms of disturbance such as grazing by sheep. In these cases, species persistence might depend on resilience to both forms of disturbance. This project aims to look for evidence to support these ideas by comparing the plant species assemblages and densities in native remnant vegetation with different disturbance histories. This project would involve field and lab work; an interest in plant species identification is essential.



Doctoral and masters supervisions

Past students

Doctor of Philosophy

Mandy Trueman (2015) Towards effective management of degraded ecosystems in the highlands of Galapagos. The University of Western Australia. Mandy works as an ecologist in Darwin.

Martha Aceves-Orozco (2015) Influence of plant species and soil conditions on plant-soil feedback in the jarrah forest. The University of Western Australia. Martha works as a Scientist in Costa Rica and cares for her baby daughter.

Christine Allen (2015) Factors that affect seedling establishment and their implications for the translocation of species at risk of extinction. The University of Western Australia. Christine worked for an organisation that aims to increase scientific awareness and engagement among the public.

Hilary Harrop-Archibald (2015) The influence of litter quality, fungi and invertebrate decomposers on litter decomposition in a Mediterranean-climate ecosystem. The University of Western Australia. Hilary is currently the Invasive Species Partnership Coordinator at Invasive Species Council of British Columbia, Victoria Canada.

Bridget Johnson (2015) Plant-pollinator networks in a restoration planting, and the effects of non-native plants and nitrogen fertilisation. The University of Western Australia. Bridget secured a post-doctoral position in Brazil.

Mark Murphy (2016) Interactive effects of land-use change and rainfall decline on insect species networks. The University of Western Australia. Mark is writing papers and teaching part-time at The University of Western Australia.

Pawel Waryszak (2016) Ecology of soil seed banks and implications for banksia woodland restoration. Murdoch University. Pawel is writing papers and will soon move to New Orleans to assist with a research project.

Masters of Science by Research

Lisa Denmead (2011) The impact of land-use intensification on the conservation management of native forest remnants embedded within production landscapes. The University of Western Australia. Lisa completed a PhD with Teja Tscharntke at the University of Göttingen in Germany and has recently started as a Lecturer at Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in New Zealand.

Lauren Hallett (2010) Ecological filters to seedling establishment for restoration in a Mediterranean climate. The University of Western Australia. Lauren was a Fulbright scholar and she has completed a PhD at the University of California Berkeley, post-doctoral research at the University of Colorado Boulder. Lauren recently secured an academic position at the University of Oregon.

Current students

Doctor of Philosophy

Suzanne Orchard (2012- ) Genetic and functional characterisation of fine endophyte fungi of agro-ecosystems. The University of Western Australia.

Nancy Shackelford (2013- ) Resilience, resistance, and recovery: Exploring the mechanisms and relations of community response to disturbance. University of Victoria, Canada.

William Fowler (July 2015- ) Effects of rapid urbanisation on native ecosystems and the implications for their conservation and management. Murdoch University

Emily Eakin-Busher (Feb 2016- ) Impacts of urbanisation on native plant-pollinator networks. Murdoch University.

Leonie Monks (May 2016- ) Ecological factors affecting the success of rare flora translocations. Murdoch University.

Lauren Svejcar (May 2016- ) Plant species interactions in kwongan and their influence on restoration success. Murdoch University.

Tina Schroeder (August 2016- ) Improving biodiversity outcomes in old-field restoration. Murdoch University.

Rebecca Dillion (August 2016- ) How mating systems inform conservation of rare plants. University of Adelaide.



60. Shackelford N, Standish RJ, Ripple W, Starzomski BM 2017. Cumulative impacts of human activity threatens biodiversity conservation in one of North America’s last wildlife frontiers. Conservation Biology, in press.

59. Guerrero AM, Shoo L, Iacona G, Standish RJ, Catterall CP, Rumpff L, de Bie K, White Z, Matzek V, Wilson KA 2017. Using structured decision making to set restoration objectives when multiple values and preferences exist. Restoration Ecology, in press.

58. Trevenen E, Standish RJ, Price C, Hobbs RJ 2017. Restoration and resilience. In: Routledge Handbook of Ecological and Environmental Restoration. SK Allison and SD Murphy (eds). Routledge, UK.

57. Orozco-Aceves M, Tibbett M, Standish RJ 2017. Correlation between soil development and native plant growth in forest restoration after surface mining. Ecological Engineering, in press.

56. Orchard S, Standish RJ, Dickie IA, Renton M, Walker C, Ryan MH, Moot D 2017. Fine root endophytes under scrutiny: A review of the literature on arbuscule-producing fungi recently suggested to belong to the Mucoromycotina. Mycorrhiza, in press. 

55. Shackelford N, Starzomski B, Banning N, Battaglia LL, Becker A, Bellingham P, Bestelmeyer B, Catford J, Dwyer J, Dynesius M, Gilmour J, Hallett LM, Hobbs RJ, Price J, Sasaki T, Tanner EVJ, Standish RJ 2017. Isolation predicts compositional change after discrete disturbances in a global meta-study. Ecography DOI: 10.1111/ecog.02383

54. Funk JL, Nguyen MA, Standish RJ, Stock WD, Valladares F 2016. Global resource acquisition patterns of invasive and native plant species do not hold at the regional scale in Mediterranean type ecosystems. Biological Invasions DOI:10.1007/s10530-016-1297-9.

53. Orchard S, Hilton S, Bending GD, Dickie IA, Standish RJ, Gleeson D, Jeffery RP, Powell JR, Walker C, Bass D, Monk J, Simonin A, Ryan MH 2017. Fine endophytes (Glomus tenue) are related to Mucoromycotina, not Glomeromycota. New Phytologist 213: 481–486.

52. Orchard S, Standish RJ, Nicol D, Dickie IA, Ryan MH 2017. Sample storage conditions alter colonisation structures of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi and, particularly, fine root endophyte. Plant and Soil 412: 35–42

51. Tredennick AT, Adler PB, Grace JB, Harpole WS, Borer ET, Seabloom EW, Anderson TM, Bakker JD, Biederman LA, Brown CS, Buckley YM, Chu C, Collins SL, Crawley MJ, Fay PA, Firn J, Gruner DS, Hagenah N, Hautier Y, Hector A, Hillebrand H, Kirkman K, Knops JM, Laungani R, Lind EM, MacDougall AS, McCulley RL, Mitchell CE, Moore JL, Morgan JW, Orrock JL, Peri PL, Prober SM, Risch AC, Schütz M, Speziale KL, Standish RJ, Sullivan LL, Wardle GM, Williams RJ, Yang LH 2016. Comment on “Worldwide evidence of a unimodal relationship between productivity and plant species richness”. Science 351: 457.

50. Orchard S, Standish RJ, Nicol D, Gupta VVSR, Ryan MH 2016. The response of fine root endophyte (Glomus tenue) to waterlogging is dependent on host plant species and soil type. Plant and Soil 403: 305–315.

49. Funk JL, Standish RJ, Stock WD, Valladares F 2016. Comparison of plant functional traits of dominant native and invasive species in Mediterranean-climate ecosystems. Ecology 97: 75–83.

48. Harrop-Archibald H, Didham RK, Standish RJ, Tibbett M, Hobbs RJ 2016. Mechanisms linking fungal conditioning of leaf litter to detritivore feeding activity. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 93: 119–130.

47. Daws MI, Standish RJ, Koch JM, Morald TK, Tibbett M, Hobbs RJ 2015. Phosphorus fertilisation and large legume species affect jarrah forest restoration after bauxite mining. Forest Ecology and Management 354: 10–17

46. Perring MP, Standish RJ, Price JN, Craig MD, Erickson TE, Ruthrof KX, Whiteley AS, Valentine LE, Hobbs RJ 2015. Advances in restoration ecology: Rising to the challenges of the coming decades. Ecosphere 6 (8): article 131.

45. Perring MP, Jonson J, Freudenberger D, Parsons R, Rooney M, Hobbs RJ, Standish RJ 2015. Soil-vegetation type, stem density and species richness influence biomass of restored woodland in south-western Australia. Forest Ecology and Management 344: 53–62.

44. Orozco-Aceves M, Standish RJ, Tibbett M 2015. Soil conditioning and plant-soil feedbacks in a modified forest ecosystem are soil-context dependent. Plant and Soil 390: 183–194.

43. Orozco-Aceves M, Standish RJ, Tibbett M 2015. Long-term conditioning of soil by plantation eucalypts and pines does not affect growth of the native jarrah tree. Forest Ecology and Management 338: 92–99.

42. Standish RJ, Daws MI, Gove AD, Didham RK, Grigg AH, Koch JM, Hobbs RJ 2015. Long-term data suggest jarrah-forest establishment at restored mine sites is resistant to climate variability. Journal of Ecology 103: 78–89.

41. Denmead LH, Barker GM, Standish RJ, Didham RK 2015. Experimental evidence that even minor livestock trampling has severe effects on land snail communities in forest remnants. Journal of Applied Ecology 52: 161–170.

40. Hobbs RJ, Higgs ES, Hall CM, Bridgewater P, Chapin III FS, Ellis EC, Ewel JJ, Hallett LM, Harris JA, Hulvey KB, Jackson ST, Kennedy PL, Kueffer C, Lach L, Lanz TC, Lugo AE, Mascaro J, Murphy SD, Nelson CR, Perring MP, Richardson DM, Seastadt TR, Standish RJ, Starzomski BM, Suding KN, Tognetti PM, Yacob L, Yung L 2014. Managing the whole landscape: historical, hybrid and novel ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12: 557–564.

39. Trueman M, Standish RJ, Orellana D, Cabrera W 2014. Mapping the extent and spread of multiple plant invasions can help prioritise management in Galapagos National Park. Neobiota 23: 1–16.

38. Standish RJ, Hobbs RJ, Mayfield MM, Bestelmeyer BT, Suding KN, Battaglia LL, Eviner V, Hawkes CV, Temperton VM, Cramer VA, Harris JA, Funk JL, Thomas PA 2014. Resilience in ecology: Abstraction, distraction, or where the action is? Biological Conservation 177: 43–51.

37. Hallett LM, Standish RJ, Jonson J, Hobbs RJ 2014. Seedling emergence and summer survival after direct seeding for woodland restoration on old fields in south-western Australia. Ecological Management & Restoration 15: 140–146.

36. Standish RJ, Hulvey KB 2014. Co-benefits of planting species mixes in carbon projects. Ecological Management & Restoration 15: 26–29.

35. Trueman M, Standish RJ, Hobbs RJ 2014. Identifying management options for modified vegetation: Application of the novel ecosystems framework to a case study in the Galapagos Islands. Biological Conservation 172: 37–48.

34. Renton M, Shackelford N, Standish RJ 2014. How will climate variability interact with long-term climate change to affect the persistence of plant species in fragmented landscapes? Environmental Conservation 41: 110–121.

33. Daws MI, Standish RJ, Koch JM, Morald TK 2013. Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer regime affect jarrah forest restoration after bauxite mining in Western Australia. Applied Vegetation Science 16: 610–618.

32. Hulvey KB, Hobbs RJ, Standish RJ, Lindenmayer DB, Lach L, Perring MP 2013. Benefits of tree-mixes in carbon plantings. Nature Climate Change DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1862

31. Standish RJ, Thompson A, Higgs ES, Murphy SD 2013. Concerns about novel ecosystems. In: Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the new ecological world order. RJ Hobbs, ES Higgs and CM Hall (eds). Wiley-Blackwell, UK

30. Hallett LM, Standish RJ, Hulvey KB, Gardener MR, Suding KN, Starzomski BM, Murphy SD, Harris JA, Nelson CR 2013. Towards a conceptual framework for the management of novel ecosystems. In: Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the new ecological world order. RJ Hobbs, ES Higgs and CM Hall (eds). Wiley-Blackwell, UK

29. Hulvey KB, Standish RJ, Hallett LM, Starzomski BM, Suding KN, Murphy SD, Nelson CR, Gardener MR, Kennedy P, Seastedt T 2013. Incorporating novel ecosystems into management frameworks. In: Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the new ecological world order. RJ Hobbs, ES Higgs and CM Hall (eds). Wiley-Blackwell, UK

28. Perring MP, Manning P, Hobbs RJ,Lugo AE, Ramalho C, Standish RJ 2013. Novel urban ecosystems and ecosystem services. In: Novel Ecosystems: Intervening in the new ecological world order. RJ Hobbs, ES Higgs and CM Hall (eds). Wiley-Blackwell, UK

27. Shackelford N, Hobbs RJ, Burgar JM, Erickson TE, Fontaine JB, Laliberté E, Ramahlo CE, Perring MP, Standish RJ 2013. Primed for change: Developing ecological restoration for the 21st Century. Restoration Ecology 21: 297–304.

26. Perring MP, Standish RJ and Hobbs RJ 2013. Incorporating novelty and novel ecosystems into restoration planning and practice in the 21st century. Ecological Processes 2: 18.

25. Renton M, Childs S, Standish RJ, Shackelford N 2013. Plant migration and persistence under climate change in fragmented landscapes: Does it depend on the key point of vulnerability within the lifecycle? Ecological Modelling 249: 50–58.

24. Standish RJ, Fontaine JB, Harris RJ, Stock WD, Hobbs RJ 2012. Interactive effects of altered rainfall and simulated nitrogen deposition on seedling establishment in a global biodiversity hotspot. Oikos 121: 2014–2025.

23. Standish RJ, Hobbs RJ, Miller JM 2012. Improving city life: options for ecological restoration in urban landscapes and how these might influence interactions between people and nature. Landscape Ecology 28: 1213–1221.

22. Renton M, Shackelford N, Standish RJ 2012. Habitat restoration will help some functional plant types persist under climate change in fragmented landscapes. Global Change Biology 18:2057–2070.

21. Perring MP, Standish RJ, Hulvey KB, Lach L, Morald TK, Parsons R, Didham RK, Hobbs RJ 2012. The Ridgefield Multiple Ecosystem Services Experiment: Can restoration of former agricultural land achieve multiple outcomes? Agriculture, Ecosystems and the Environment 163:14–27.

20. Prober SM, Thiele KR, Rundel PW, Byrne M, Christidis L, Gosper CR, O’Connor MH, Grierson PF, Macfarlane C, Scott JK, Standish RJ, et al. 2012. Facilitating adaptation of biodiversity to climate change: a conceptual framework applied to the world’s largest Mediterranean-climate woodland. Climatic Change 110: 227–248

19. Hallett LM, Standish RJ, Hobbs RJ 2011. Seed mass and summer drought survival in a Mediterranean-climate ecosystem. Plant Ecology 212: 1479–1489.

18. Prober SM, Standish RJ, Wiehl G 2011. After the fence: Soil and vegetation condition in grazed, fenced and benchmark remnants of forb-rich eucalypt woodland. Australian Journal of Botany 59: 396–381.

17. Standish RJ and Hobbs RJ 2010. Restoration of OCBILs in south-western Australia: Response to Hopper. Plant and Soil 330:15–18.

16. Standish RJ, Cramer VA and Hobbs RJ 2008. Land-use legacy and the persistence of invasive Avena barbata on abandoned farmland. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 1576–1583.

15. Cramer VA, Hobbs RJ, Standish RJ 2008. What’s new about old fields? Land abandonment and ecosystem assembly. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23: 104–112.

14. Standish RJ, Cramer VA and Yates CJ 2008. A revised state-and-transition model for the restoration of woodlands in Western Australia. New Models for Ecosystem Dynamics (eds R.J. Hobbs & K.N. Suding). Island Press, Washington, DC.

13. Standish RJ, Sparrow AD, Williams PA and Hobbs RJ 2008. A state-and-transition model for the recovery of abandoned farmland in New Zealand. New Models for Ecosystem Dynamics (eds R.J. Hobbs & K.N. Suding). Island Press, Washington, DC.

12. Harris RJ and Standish RJ 2008. Ant dispersal and predation affects the availability of seeds for old-field recolonisation in Western Australia. The Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia 91: 301–312.

11. Standish RJ, VA Cramer, SL Wild and RJ Hobbs 2007. Seed dispersal and recruitment limitation are barriers to native recolonisation of old-fields in Western Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 44: 435–445.

10. Cramer VA, RJ Standish and RJ Hobbs 2007. Western Australian old fields: Prospects for the recovery of native vegetation in an ancient and highly modified landscape. In Old Fields: Dynamics and Restoration of Abandoned Farmland, eds. VA Cramer and RJ Hobbs, Island Press, Washington, pp. 286–306.

9. Standish RJ, Stokes BA, Tibbett M, Hobbs RJ 2007. Seedling response to phosphate addition and inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizas and the implications for old-field restoration in Western Australia. Environmental and Experimental Botany 61: 58–65.

8. Standish RJ, Cramer VA, Hobbs RJ and Kobryn HT 2006. Legacy of land-use evident in soils of Western Australia’s wheatbelt. Plant and Soil 280: 189–207.

7. Standish RJ 2004. Impact of an invasive clonal herb on epigaeic invertebrates in forest remnants in New Zealand. Biological Conservation 116: 49–58.

6. Standish RJ, Williams PA, Robertson AW, Scott NA, Hedderley DI 2004. Invasion by a perennial herb increases decomposition rate and alters nutrient availability in warm temperate lowland forest remnants. Biological Invasions 6: 71–81.

5. Standish RJ 2002. Experimenting with methods to control Tradescantia fluminensis. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 26: 161–170.

4. Standish RJ, Robertson AW, Williams PA 2001. The impact of an invasive weed Tradescantia fluminensis on native forest regeneration. Journal of Applied Ecology 38: 1253–1263.

3. Roberts JD, Standish RJ, Byrne PG, Doughty P 1999. Synchronous polyandry and multiple paternity in the frog Crinia georgiana (Anura: Myobatrachidae). Animal Behaviour 57: 721–726.

2. Ayre DJ, Hughes TP, Standish RJ 1997. Genetic differentiation, reproductive mode, and gene flow in the brooding coral Pocillopora damicornis along the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Marine Ecology Progress Series 159: 175–187.

1. Simmons LW, Teale RJ, Maier M, Standish RJ, Bailey WJ, Withers PC 1992. Some costs of reproduction for male bushcrickets, Requena verticalis (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae) allocating resources to mate attraction and nuptial feeding. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 31: 57–62.