Lavinia Hsiao-Hsuan Chu

Photo of PhD student Lavinia

For my PhD, I am investigating the factors that influence drought survival of resprouting Australian shrubs as part of the Woody Meadow Project.

Plant survival becomes increasingly difficult as the climate becomes warmer and drier, with urban plants facing greater challenges due to the urban heat island effect. For my recently completed Masters project I investigated the relationship between plant traits, water-use, and drought resistance strategies. I found that plants with traits related to conservative water-use showed greater drought tolerance by closing their stomata later and tolerating lower leaf water status. Plants that used more water when it was available did not necessarily use more water during drought and could resist drought by closing their stomata early. Through my research I have identified a suite of green roof plants capable of maximising stormwater retention (with greater water-use) whilst also able to survive dry summers. Using these plants on green roofs would be highly beneficial as they can assist in reducing stormwater runoff that contributes to flash flooding, in addition to the many other benefits provided by green roofs. My findings will also help predict plant responses towards changes in water availability using traits that are easy to measure.

For my PhD I will be investigating different types of urban greenery and additional mechanisms behind drought survival. As part of the Woody Meadow Project, I intend to investigate how the original habitats and different plant traits relate with drought survival of resprouting Australian shrubs.

Contact

hsiaoc@student.unimelb.edu.au

Research interests

Drought responses, plant resource-use, plant traits, urban greenery

Supervisors

Dr Claire Farrell, Prof Stefan Arndt, Dr Chris Szota