Merilyn Merrett

Doctor of Philosophy, (Plant Ecology)
Study Completed: 2006
College of Sciences


Thesis Title
Reproduction and breeding systems of indigenous plants in fragmented ecosystems

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Dr Merrett investigated the reproductive biology of sixteen native shrub species in 34 geographically separated populations to identify breeding systems, seed set, pollen limitation, local abundance, and population age structures to assess their vulnerability to pollination failure. She found that species with separate sexes, self-incompatibility mechanisms and pollinator specialisation are more vulnerable than self-compatible or pollinator-generalist species and that, for some, population densities are dangerously low and seed production small. On the other hand, habitat fragmentation creates edges, and many of the study shrubs occur in the edge habitat, which actually affords important refugia for some native taxa. However, the decline in native bird pollinators due to predation, and the invasion of edges by exotic weeds will impact on population persistence in the long term.

Professor Alastair Robertson
Professor Doug Armstrong
Dr Bruce Burns
Dr W Lee