The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Alison O'Donnell

Dr Alison O'Donnell

Research Associate
Ecosystems Research Group (School of Plant Biology)

Contact details
Ecosystems Research Group
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 3445
+61 8 6488 1001
BSc PhD W.Aust.
I have a broad research interest in biogeography and landscape ecology in relation to climate variability and fire regimes. I am particularly interested in utilising dendrochronology (tree ring) techniques to understand past climates and fire regimes of arid and semi-arid regions in Western Australia. I also have an ongoing interest in improving understanding of the interactions between climate and fire and vegetation, topography and ecosystem processes.
Key research
Fire ecology – temporal and spatial patterns of wildfires
Semi-arid landscape ecology
Dendrochronology and paleoclimate research
Rouillard, A., Skrzypek, G., Turney, C., Dogramaci, S., Hua, Q., Zawadzki, A., Reeves, J., Greenwood, P., O'Donnell, A.J., Grierson, P. F. (2016) Evidence for extreme floods in arid subtropical northwest Australia during the Little Ice Age Chronozone (CE 1400-1850). Quaternary Science Reviews 144, 107-122

Gosper, C. R., O'Donnell, A. J., Yates, C. J., Prober, S. M., Grierson, P. F. (2016) Better planning outcomes require adequate data and ecological understanding to be successful and credible: A reply to Evans et al., 2015. Biological Conservation 200, 240-241

O'Donnell, A. J., Allen, K. J., Evans, R. M.., Cook, E. R., Trouet, V., Baker, P. J., Wood density provides new opportunities for reconstructing past temperature variability from southeastern Australian trees. Global and Planetary Change 141, 1-11

Turney, C. S. M., Palmer, J. G., Hogg, A., Fogwill, C. J., Jones, R., Ramsey, C., Fenwick, P., Grierson, P. F., Richardson, S., Wilmshurst, J., McGlone, M., O’Donnell, A. J., Thomas, Z., Lipson, M. (2016) Multi-decadal variations in Southern Hemisphere atmospheric 14C: Evidence against a Southern Ocean sink during the Little Ice Age CO2 anomaly. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 10.1002/2015GB005257

Ong, J. L., Rountrey, A. N., Zinke, J., Meeuwig, J. J., Grierson, P. F., O’Donnell, A. J., Newman, S. J., Lough, J. M., Trougan, M., Meekan, M. G. (2016) Evidence for climate-driven synchrony of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in northwest Australia. Global Change Biology. 10.1111/gcb.13239

O’Donnell, A. J., Cook, E. R., Palmer, J., Turney, C., Page, G. F. M. and Grierson, P. F (2015) Recent high summer precipitation in semi-arid northwest Australia is unprecedented in the last two centuries, PLoS ONE, 10 (6)

Palmer, J. G., Cook, E. R., Turney, C. S. M., Allen, K., Fenwick, P., Cook, B., O’Donnell, A. J., Lough, J. M., Grierson, P. F. G., Baker, P. (2015) Drought variability in the eastern Australia and New Zealand summer drought atlas (ANZDA, CE 1500-2012) modulated by the Inter-decadal Pacific Oscillation. Environmental Research Letters, 10 (12), 124002

O’Donnell, A. J., Boer, M. M., McCaw, W. L., Grierson, P. F. (2014) Scale-dependent thresholds in the dominant controls of wildfire size in semi-arid southwest Australia. Ecosphere, 5, Article 93

O'Donnell, A. J., Boer, M. M., McCaw, W. L. and Grierson, P. F. (2011) Vegetation and landscape connectivity control wildfire intervals in unmanaged semi-arid shrublands and woodlands in Australia. Journal of Biogeography, 38, 112-124.

O’Donnell A. J., Boer M. M., McCaw W. L., and Grierson P. F., (2011) Climatic anomalies drive wildfire occurrence and extent in semi-arid shrublands and woodlands of southwest Australia, Ecosphere, 2, no.11, Article 127

O’Donnell, A. J., Cullen, L. E., McCaw, W. L., Boer, M. M., and Grierson, P. F. (2010) Dendroecological potential of Callitris preissii for dating historical fires in semi-arid shrublands of southern Western Australia, Dendrochronologia 28, 37-48

Cookson, W. R., O’Donnell, A. J., Grant, C. D., Grierson, P. F., Murphy, D. V. (2008) Impact of ecosystem management on microbial community level physiological profiles of postmining forest rehabilitation, Microbial ecology 55, 321-332
Funding received
2015 A drought atlas for Western Australia from tree rings, Research Collaboration Award, The University of Western Australia

2014 ITRAX measurements of tree ring density and chemistry to reconstruct past rainfall patterns in NW Australia, Australian Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (AINSE) research award
Industrial relevance
Fire ecology and management
Sustainable management of semi-arid landscapes
Ecological Society of Australia
Honours and awards
Best Student Presentation awarded by the Australian Flora Foundation at the Ecological Society of Australia Conference in Perth, November 2007.
Current projects
My current research is focused on reconstructing past rainfall variability of the Pilbara region in north-west Australia and the wheatbelt region of southwest Australia using the width and stable isotope composition of growth rings of Callitris columellaris trees.
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM