Nick Williams

Photo for bioI am an ecologist who works predominantly in urban areas because although cities cause of many of the world’s environmental problems they offer one of humanity’s best hopes for a sustainable future. I seek to understand urban biodiversity patterns and ecosystem processes and develop applied solutions to reduce negative impacts of urbanization such as biodiversity loss, excess urban heat, stormwater runoff and CO2 emissions. My biodiversity research focuses on vegetation, in particular native grasslands and plant traits, but I have also worked on mammals, molluscs and increasingly with insects. Together with social scientist colleagues I have even investigated the most complex aspect of urban environments – humans! In 2007 I established a research program to develop and evaluate the benefits of green infrastructure, in particular vegetated roofs, as a climate change mitigation and adaptation strategy for Australian cities. This has evolved into one of the largest green roof research programs in the world attracting substantial funding and publicity. Together with colleagues Steve Livesley and John Rayner I lead the Green Infrastructure Research Group (GIRG) which is studying how we can maximise the benefits plants provide to the urban environment.


Research Grants and Consultancies

PhD Students
Andrew Pianella  2013-     Thermal performance of green roofs

Annie Hunter       2012-     Designed Green Façade Systems

Kate Lee               2010-       Living roofs for healthier living? Impacts on employee stress,  engagement, well-being and performance

Dave Kendal        2008-11      Public preference for cultivated native plants: a trait-based approach
Dave is now a Research Fellow at the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology

Briony Norton      2007-12            The sanitisation of urban ecological systems: a study of the distribution and management of leaf litter in eucalypt woodlands
Briony is now a post-doc working on the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) project at The University of Sheffield

Masters Students
Paul Richards      2011-13              Hydrology of a vegetable raingarden: implications for vegetable yield and stormwater management

Honours Students
Keith Primrose 2012-13   Using site and infestation variables to predict re-emergence of Hawkweed on the Bogong High Plains
Alison Farrar    2011   How does the structure of a native grassland edge influence its ecological and social function?
Brendan Nugent 2009-10    Autecological aspects of the Threatened Grampians Bitter-pea Daviesia laevis
Kate Giljohann      2008-9      Modelling the distribution of the invasive Salix cinerea on the Bogong High Plains Victoria.
Jenny Bear   2008    Seed ecology of invasive Hieracium species
Aaron Dodd     2006  Spatial seed bank dynamics and plant invasions in Victoria’s Western Basalt Plains Grasslands.
Kelly Holland 2005 The potential impact of mollusc herbivory on Victorian native grasslands

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