The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Monica Gagliano

Assoc/Prof Monica Gagliano

Research Associate Professor
Biological Sciences, School of

Contact details
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 1361
Personal homepage
2007 PhD Marine Ecology, James Cook University (Australia)
1999 MSc Marine & Fisheries Science (University of Aberdeen, UK & University of Cape Town, SA)
1998 BSc (Hon) Marine Biology (University of North Wales Bangor, UK)
Key research
My main research is broadly focusing on key aspects of the ecological processes by which organisms are able to gather information on the variable conditions of their surrounding environment in order to survive. In collaboration with various disciplines across the Sciences and the Humanities, my research aims at expanding our perception of animals, plants and more generally Nature. In the process of learning how to do this, I have pioneered the brand-new research field of plant bioacoustics and extended the concept of cognition to plants, re-igniting the discourse on plant subjectivity, sentience and ethical standing.

PLANT COGNITION (including perception, learning & memory, choice behaviour & decision-making, consciousness and more)

Plant cognition is a new and exciting field of research directed at experimentally testing the cognitive abilities of plants, including perception, learning processes, memory and consciousness.The emerging framework holds considerable implications for the way we perceive plants as it redefines the traditionally held boundary between animals and plants. The novel concepts and perspectives emerging from this research on vegetal life are galvanising a truly interdisciplinary dialogue across an array of academic disciplines, including science, philosophy, environmental law, literature and of course...the Arts!

*Gagliano M (2017) The mind of plants: thinking the unthinkable. Communicative and Integrative Biology e1288333. Available here

*Gagliano M, Vyazovskiy VV, Borbély AA, Grimonprez M & M Depczynski (2016) Learning by association in plants. Scientific Reports 6: 38427. Freely available here with video abstract here:

*​Gagliano M & M Grimonprez (2015) Breaking the silence – language and the making of meaning in plants. Ecopsychology 7: 143-152. Freely available here

*Pelizzon A & M Gagliano (2015) The sentience of plants: animal rights and rights of nature intersecting? Australian Animal Protection Law Journal 11: 5-13.

*Gagliano M (2015) In a green frame of mind: perspectives on the behavioural ecology and cognitive nature of plants. AoB Plants. Freely available here

*Gagliano M & M Marder (2015) Plants can learn: it's a no-brainer! LA Review Books Blog. Published March 2015 and freely available here

*Gagliano M, Renton M, Depczynski M & S Mancuso (2014) Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters. Oecologia 175:63-72. (DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2873-7)

*Gagliano M & M Marder (2014) What Plant Revolution would you opt for? LA Review Books Blog. Published November 2014 and available here

*Gagliano M (2013) Seeing green: the re-discovery of plants and Nature’s wisdom. Societies 3 (1): 147-157. In the special issue 'Rethinking the Vegetal: Emerging Perspectives on Plants and Society' and available here

*Gagliano M (2013) Persons as Plants: Ecopsychology and the Return to the Dream of Nature. Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language 5(2):1-11. In the special issue on ‘Ecological Creativity’ and available here

*BOOK - The Green Thread: Dialogue with the Vegetal World. Edited by P Vieira, M Gagliano and J Ryan. Lexignton Books 2015

This book is an interdisciplinary collection of essays in the emerging field of Plant Studies. What unites the contributions to the collection is the principle that the re-imagining of the green world involves the re-conceptualization of plants as active agents in social and cultural environments

PLANT COMMUNICATION (including behaviour, acoustic signalling, language & meaning, and more)

Plant bioacoustics is a newly-emerged field of plant communication. Plants produce sound waves in the lower end of the audio range as well as an overabundance of ultrasonic sounds. By capturing the signals emitted by plants under different environmental conditions, I am exploring the ecological significance of these sounds to communication among plants and between plants and other organisms.

*Gagliano M, Grimonprez M, Depczynski M & M Renton (2017) Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water. Oecologia (in press) OnlineFirst, available here (including video here:

*Gagliano M & M Renton (2013) Love thy neighbour: facilitation through an alternative signalling modality in plants. BMC Ecology 13:19. Freely available here

*Gagliano M (2013) Green symphonies: a call for studies on acoustic communication in plants. Behavioral Ecology 24(4): 789-796. Freely available here

*Gagliano M (2013) The flowering of plant bioacoustics: how and why. Behavioral Ecology 24 (4): 800-801. Freely available here

*Marder M & M Gagliano (2013) How do plants sound? Columbia University Press Blog. Published June 2013 and available here

*Gagliano M, Renton M, Duvdevani N, Timmins M & S Mancuso (2012) Acoustic and magnetic communication in plants: is it possible? Plant Signalling and Behavior 7: 1346-1348.

*Gagliano M, Renton M, Duvdevani N, Timmins M & S Mancuso (2012) Out of sight but not out of mind: alternative means of communication in plants. PLoS ONE 7(5), e37382. Freely available here

*Gagliano M, Mancuso S & D Robert (2012) Towards understanding plant bioacoustics. Trends in Plant Science 17: 323–32

*Gagliano M (2012) Green Symphonies. Australasian Science. Published September 2012

*Gagliano M (2012) Heard it on the grapevine: the mysterious chatter of plants. The Conversation. Published 12 April 2012 and available here

*BOOK - The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy and Literature. Edited by M Gagliano, J Ryan and P Vieira. U of MN Press (June) 2017

This book commences a dialogue between philosophy, science, literature and cinema dealing with plants. The aim of the edited collection is to develop a better understanding of plant life through critical awareness, conceptual rigor, and interdisciplinary thinking. Envisioned as a ground-breaking work that will bridge a number of fields, The Language of Plants will (1) allot to literature, cinema and the arts a special role in the integration of the scientific and philosophical research on plants at the experiential level, (2) promote the freedom of imagination necessary for the rethinking of vegetal life and, thereby, (3) inspire further philosophical and scientific investigations. The book will not only seek to consolidate the nascent paradigm shift in the human conceptualisation of vegetation, but it will also join ongoing discussions of plant ethics.


*Gagliano M (2016). What would the Babel Fish say? Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling 1(3): 20. Freely available here

*Gagliano M, Depczynski M & U Siebeck (2015). Facing the environment: onset and development of UV markings in young fish. Sci. Rep. 5:13193. Freely available here

*Depczynski M & M Gagliano (2013). Natural-born con artists and counterfeiters: Who is being deceived here? Communicative and Integrative Biology 6(4):e24586. (DOI: 10.4161/cib.24586).

*Gagliano M & M Depczynski (2013). Spot the difference: mimicry in a coral reef fish. PloS ONE 8: e55938. Freely available here

*Herwig JN, Depczynski M, Roberts JD, Semmens JM, Gagliano M & AJ Heyward (2012) Using age-based life history data to investigate the life cycle and vulnerability of Octopus cyanea. PloS ONE 7: e43679.
Freely available here

*Simpson SD, Munday PL, Wittenrich ML, Manassa R, Dixson D, Gagliano M & HY Yan (2011) Ocean acidification erodes crucial auditory behaviour in a marine fish. Biol. Lett. 7: 917-920

*Baumann H & M Gagliano (2011) Changing otolith:fish size ratios during settlement in two tropical damselfishes. Helgoland Mar. Res 65: 425-429

*Munday P, Gagliano M, Donelson J, Dixson D & S Thorrold (2011) Ocean acidification does not affect the early life history development of a tropical marine fish. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 423: 211-221

*Gagliano M, Lema K, Depczynski M & S Whalan (2011) Use it and lose it: lipofuscin accumulation in the brain of a coral reef fish. J. Fish Biol. 78:659–666.

*Botté E, Negri A, Codi King S, Gagliano M, Smith-Keune C, & DR Jerry (2010) Are damsels in distress? Combined effects of chlorpyrifos and temperature stress on the tropical damselfish Acanthochromis polyacanthus from the Great Barrier Reef (Australia). Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 157: S16.

*Gagliano M, McCormick MI, Moore J & M Depczynski (2010) The basics of acidification: baseline variability of pH on Australian coral reefs. Mar. Biol. 157:1849–1856.

*Wilson SK et al (2010) Critical knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes. J. Exp. Biol. 213:894-900. In the special issue 'Survival in a Changing World' available online at

*Gagliano M, Dunlap WC, de Nys R & M Depczynski (2009) Ockham’s Razor gone blunt: coenzyme Q adaptation and redox balance in tropical reef fishes. Biol. Lett. 5:360–363.

*Gagliano M & MI McCormick (2009) Hormonally-mediated maternal effects shape offspring survival potential in stressful environments. Oecologia 160:657-665.

*McCormick MI & M Gagliano (2009) Carry-over effects: the importance of a good start. 11th Int Coral Reef Symp

*Gagliano M (2008) On the spot: the absence of predators reveals eyespot plasticity in a marine fish. Behav. Ecol.19:733-739.

*Gagliano M, Depczynski M, Simpson SD & J Moore (2008) Dispersal without errors: symmetrical ears tune into the right frequency for survival. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 275:527-534.

*Gagliano M, McCormick MI & MG Meekan (2007) Survival against the odds: ontogenetic changes in selective pressure mediate growth-mortality trade-offs in a marine fish. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 274:1575-1582.

*Gagliano M, McCormick M & MG Meekan (2007) Temperature-induced shifts in selective pressure at a critical developmental transition. Oecologia 152:219-225.

*Gagliano, M & MI McCormick (2007) Maternal condition influences phenotypic selection on offspring. J. Anim. Ecol. 76:174-182.

*Depczynski M & M Gagliano (2007) Andaman blennies bathe in the tropical sun rather than in the water. Coral Reefs 26:677.

*Gagliano M & MI McCormick (2007) Compensating in the wild: is flexible growth the key to early juvenile survival? Oikos 116:111-120.

*Gagliano M, Kowalewsky S & MI McCormick (2006) An alternative method for the preservation of tropical fish larvae. J. Fish Biol. 68:634-639.

*Bay, LK, Buechler K, Gagliano M & MJ Caley (2006) Intraspecific variation in the pelagic larval duration of tropical reef fishes. J. Fish Biol. 68:1206-1214.

*Gristina M, Fiorentino F, Garofalo G, Gagliano M, Morizzo G & S Cusumano (2006) Protection effects on European spiny lobster (Palinurus elephas Fabricius, 1787) in the Isole Egadi Marine Reserve. Biol. Mar. Med. 12:404-409.

*Gagliano M & MI McCormick (2004) Feeding history influences otolith shape in tropical fish. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 278: 291-296.

*Gristina M & M Gagliano (2004). Performance of traditional rush and modern plastic traps on the capture of Palinurus elephas (Fabricius, 1787) in laboratory tanks. Fish. Res. 66: 235-239.

*Gagliano M, Fiorentino F & S Ragonese (2002) New record of Caulerpa racemosa in the south-western Sicilian waters. Naturalista sicil. 26 (3-4):155-159.

*Gagliano M, Gancedo U, Coca J & AG Ramos (2002) Real time remote sensing monitoring of the western Mediterranean. Biol. Mar. Med. 9:870-873.

*Gagliano M, Tuya F, Martin-Garcia J & O Ayza-Mascarell (2002) Experimental evaluation on fish assemblages associated with artificial structures: a preliminary study. Biol. Mar. Med. 9:754-757.
Funding received
2013 Discovery Early Career Research Award (Australian Research Council; $403,000)
2013 Early Career Research Fellowship Support (University of Western Australia; $30,000)
2011 Research Collaboration Award (University of Western Australia; $15,000)
2011 Research Development Award (University of Western Australia; $30,000)
2009 University Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (University of Western Australia; $267,000)
2007 Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (James Cook University & AIMS; $225,000)
Honours and awards
2014 Accelerated Promotion to Research Associate Professor (UWA)
Previous positions
2016 – 2018 Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in Evolutionary Ecology (UWA)
2013 – 2015 ARC DECRA Research Fellow in Evolutionary Ecology (UWA)
2009 – 2012 UPRF Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Evolutionary Ecology (UWA)
2008 – 2011 Adjunct Lecturer in Plant Biology (UWA)
2007 – 2009 AIMS@JCU Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Climate Change Ecology (JCU & AIMS)
Useful links
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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