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Dr Martin Breed

Telephone +61 8 8313 1706
Position ARC DECRA Fellow
Building Schulz Building
Floor/Room 12
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit Ecology and Environmental Science

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PhD in Plant Molecular and Restoration Ecology University of Adelaide (2009-2012)

MSc in Evolutionary Biology, Uppsala University (2006-2008)

BAppSc in Environmental Science and Zoology, James Cook University (2004-2006)

Awards & Achievements

ARC DECRA Fellowship DE150100542

SA Young Tall Poppy Award: Australian Institute of Policy & Science 2015

Early Career Research Award: Faculty of Science, University of Adelaide 2013

Executive Dean's Order of Merit: Faculty of Science, University of Adelaide 2013

PhD thesis: Received the 2013 South Australian Science Excellence Award in PhD Research Excellence - Life and Environmental Sciences

PhD thesis: Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence

Academic Merit and Research Potential: Noel and Vivian Lothian Scholarships, University of Adelaide 2010 and 2012


Research Interests

I am part of Andy Lowe's lab group, and details of my work can be found there too

I am interested in developing conservation and restoration solutions from studying plant adaptation and community ecology.

Examples of questions that I work on include:
1. How can the study of adaptation of plants help improve seed collection and species choice practices for ecological restoration?
2. Can we develop restoration Key Performance Indicators using rapid, cost-efficient environmental DNA approaches?
3. How do we best improve pollination services in and around native and restored landscapes?

A list of my publications (and citations) can be found herehere or here.

I also teach into undergraduate and postgraduate courses on an ad hoc basis.


I currently supervise two PhD students - Nicholas Gellie and Kimberly McCallum - and two Honours students - Dona Kireta and Ellyse Bunney (with Cesca McInerney).

I have more student opportunities, including PhD, Honours and summer scholarships. Contact me for details. 


Past Postdocs: 
I was a postdoc with Prof Jon Ågren’s plant ecology and evolution group at Uppsala University. I used quantitative genetic and next-generation sequencing methods, together with extensive field and glass house trials, to explore the genetic basis and adaptive significance of adaptive traits in the model system Arabidopsis thaliana. Adaptive traits included leaf hairs (a classic plant defence trait) and the root microbiome (soil-borne microbes in the roots of plants). This work was conducted together with Prof Douglas Schemske (Michigan State University, USA), Prof John McKay (Colorado State University, USA), Prof Siv Andersson (Uppsala University), Prof Sandra Baldalf (Uppsala University), Assoc Prof Anna Rosling (Uppsala University), Dr Chris Oakley (Michigan State Uni), Dr Hector Urbina (Uppsala University) and Dr Sverre Lundemo (Uppsala University). 


I returned as a postdoc to the Lowe Lab Group in 2014 to start my current activities, recently supported by my current DECRA and Discovery projects on plant adaptation, conservation and restoration.

I completed my PhD in Plant Molecular and Restoration Genetics at the University of Adelaide (2009-2012), supervised by Prof Andy Lowe, Dr Kym Ottewell and Dr Michael Gardner. I showed that pollen diversity matters; it could have fitness effects over and above those of inbreeding, establishing a new paradigm for studying gene flow and mating systems of plants. I achieved this by the integration of population genetics with common garden trials. I proposed the ‘constrained inbreeding hypothesis’ to explain these pollen diversity effects.


My trials were embedded into restoration projects and I worked closely with a number of partner organisations (like AWCTFLGASAWater). This has led to many productive discussions and further experiments about how to optimally seed source under today's conditions, leading to some interesting findings: like thesethesethese, or these.

PhD Awards: 
• 2013: South Australian Science Excellence Award, PhD Research Excellence-Life and Environmental Sciences 
• 2013: Dean’s Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence 
• 2012: Noel and Vivian Lothian Scholarship for Academic Merit and Research Potential 
• 2011: Faculty 1000 Recommended publication in Journal of Applied Ecology 
• 2010: Noel and Vivian Lothian Scholarship for Academic Merit and Research Potential 

Manuscript reviewer: 
Molecular Ecology (Top Reviewer in 2014, 2015), Biological Conservation, Heredity, Diversity & Distributions, Journal of Ecology, Ecography, Environmental Science & Policy, Conservation Genetics, PLoS ONE, Restoration Ecology, Journal of Plant Ecology, Population Ecology, Forest Ecology & Management, Forestry, Australian Journal of Botany, Austral Ecology, Biotropica

Research Funding

ARC funding

·      Breed MF (2015-2017) Understanding adaptation of plants along environmental clines ARC DECRA DE150100542 ($355k)

·      Lowe AJ, Breed MF, Byrne M, Lascoux M, Stephen J, Vendramin GG (2015-2017) Understanding adaptation to improve conservation of Australian flora ARC Discovery DP150103414 ($373k)

·      Grant writer for Lowe AJ, Brook B, Bradshaw C (2012-2014) ARC Linkage LP110200805 ($405k)

Other research funding

·      Breed MF (2015-2017) Adaptive potential in Dodonaea viscosa as a model for plant climate change adaptation. Thomas Davies Research Fund ($10k)

·      Breed MF (2014-2015) Metabarcoding to demonstrate re-gain of soil function after ecological restoration. Bioplatforms Australia

·      McCallum K, Breed MF, Lowe AJ, Paton D. Do natural eucalypt patterns need to be incorporated into revegetation design? Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment ($6K)

·      Breed MF, Ottewell K, Gardner M, Lowe AJ (2010-2012) Developing best practice approaches for restoring River Murray forest ecosystems that are resilient to climate change. Native Vegetation Council of South Australia Research Grant ($45K)

·      Breed MF (2011-2012) PhD research. Estate of the late Winifred Violet Scott ($27.5K)

·      Breed MF (2012-2013) PhD research. Sir Mark Mitchell Foundation ($5K) 

·      Breed MF (2010) PhD research. Nature Foundation of South Australia ($5K) 

·      Breed MF (2011-2012) PhD research. Sir Mark Mitchell Foundation ($4K) 

·      Breed MF (2010) PhD research. Australian Geographic Society Sponsorship ($3K) 

·      Breed MF (2010) PhD research. Field Naturalists Society of South Australia - Lirabenda Endowment Fund ($3K)

·      Breed MF (2010) PhD research. Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia Limited - University Research Grant($1K)

·      Breed MF (2010) PhD research. Biological Society of South Australia Field Research Grant ($1K) 

Travel grants

·      Breed MF (2013) The Dean's travel grant from the Wallenberg Foundation for travel to the Evomics Workshop in Genomics, Czech Republic (SEK15k) 

·      Breed MF (2010-2012) National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility - PhD Student Collaboration Travel Grants for travel to Europe 2012, 2011 and Costa Rica 2010 ($9k)

·      Breed MF (2010) Environment Institute Travel Grants for travel to Costa Rica (AUD$3k)  


Peer-reviewed journal articles

accepted & 2015

  1. Christmas MJ, Breed MF, Lowe AJ (in press). Constraints to and conservation implications for climate change adaptation in plants. Conservation Genetics. DOI: 10.1007/s10592-015-0782-5
  2. Lowe AJ, Cavers S, Boshier D, Breed MF, Hollingsworth P (2015). The resilience of forest fragmentation genetics – no longer a paradox – we were just looking in the wrong place. Heredity Special Issue115: 97-99.
  3. Davis SJ, Cavers S, Finegan B, White A, Breed MF, Lowe AJ (2015). Pollen-mediated genetic rescue following stand-replacing disturbance in a neotropical pioneer tree, Vochysia ferruginea Mart. Heredity115: 125-129.
  4. Breed M.F., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Marklund M.H.K., Dormontt E.E., Lowe A.J. (2015) Mating patterns and pollinator mobility are critical traits in forest fragmentation genetics. Heredity. 115: 108-114.
  5. Breed M.F., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Marklund M.H.K., Stead M.G. Harris J.B.C. & Lowe A.J. (2015) Mating system and early viability resistance to habitat fragmentation of a bird-pollinated eucalypt. Heredity115: 100-107
  6. Breed MF, Christmas MJ, Lowe AJ (2015). Higher levels of multiple paternities increase seedling survival in the long-lived tree Eucalyptus gracilis. PLoS ONE. 9(2): e90478

  7. 2014

  8. Dormontt EE, Gardner MG, Breed MF, Rodger J, Prentis PJ, Lowe AJ (2014). Sequential genetic bottlenecks in time and space: Reconstructing invasions from contemporary and historical collections. PLoS ONE. 9(9): e106874
  9. Guerin G, Martín-Forés I, Biffin E, Baruch Z, Breed MF, Christmas MJ, Cross HB, Lowe AJ (2014). Global change community ecology beyond species sorting: a quantitative framework based on Mediterranean Biome examples. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 23(10): 1062-1072. 
  10. McCallum K.P., Guerin G.R., Breed M.F., Lowe A.J. (2014). Combining population genetics, species distribution modelling and field assessments to understand a species’ vulnerability to climate change. Aust. Ecol. 39(1): 17-18.
  11. 2013

  12. Breed M.F., Stead M.G., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Lowe A.J. (2013). Which provenance and where? Seed sourcing strategies for revegetation in a changing environment. Conservation Genetics. 14(1): 1-10.
  13. Rudh A., Breed M.F., Qvarnström A. (2013) Does aggression and explorative behaviour decrease with lost warning colouration? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 108(1): 116-126.
  14. Breed M.F., Marklund M.H.K., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Harris J.B.C. & Lowe A.J. (2012) Pollen diversity matters: revealing the neglected effect of pollen diversity on fitness in fragmented landscapes. Molecular Ecology21(24): 5955-5968.
  15. 2012

  16. Murphy N.P., Breed M.F., Guzik M., Cooper S., Austin A. (2012) Trapped in desert springs: phylogeography of Australian desert spring snails. Journal of Biogeography 39(9): 1573-1582.
  17. Breed M.F., Gardner M.G., Ottewell K.M., Navarro C. & Lowe A.J. (2012). Shifts in reproductive assurance strategies and inbreeding costs associated with habitat fragmentation in Central American mahogany. Ecology Letters 15(5): 444-452. [Pdf]. Media release and featured on EurekAlert, Science Newsline Nature, e! Science News.
  18. 2011

  19. Breed A.C., Breed M.F., Meers J., Field H.E. (2011). Evidence of endemic Hendra virus infection in flying-foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) - implications for disease risk management. PLoS One. 6: e28816.
  20. Weeks A.R., Sgro C.M., Young A.G., Frankham R., Mitchell N.J., Miller K.A., Byrne M., Coates D.J., Eldridge M.D.B., Sunnucks P., Breed MF., James EA. & Hoffmann AA. (2011). Assessing the benefits and risks of translocations in changing environments: a genetic perspective. Evolutionary Applications 4(6), 709-725.
  21. Breed M.F., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Lowe A.J. (2011). Clarifying climate change adaptation responses for scattered trees in modified landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology 48(3), 637-641. Faculty 1000 Recommended paper

Media articles

Breed MF Seed quality shifts and managing plant genetic resources in fragmented landscapes. Australian Wildlife Conservancy South-eastern Australia Science Symposium 18th July 2013
Breed MF Pollen can protect mahogany from extinction. E-Science. 1:36. April 2012
Breed MF Breathing life back into iconic forests. The Advertiser - can you believe it? 24 April 2012
Breed MF Natural pollen diversity is key to sustaining forest resource. CSIRO Ecos Magazine 16 April 2012

Postgraduate Theses
PhD thesis: Breed MF (2012) Restoration genetics of Murray mallee and neotropical forests
MSc thesis Ch #1: Breed MF (2008) Warning colouration predicts behavioural and morphological differences in the strawberry poison-dart frog
MSc thesis Ch #2: Breed MF (2008) Dire effects of hunting on wolves in coastal southeast Alaska: loss of genetic diversity, fragmentation and a regional sink

Citation statistics here



  • Costion C, Rosetto M, Crayn D, Kooyman R, Breed MF, Lowe AJ, Kress J. (2015). Using DNA barcodes as a tool to understand biome assembly in species rich environments: a case study from Australian rain forests. 6th iBOL Conference, Guelph, Canada.
  • Breed MF, Lowe AJ. (2015). Seed quality shifts and managing plant genetic resources in fragmented landscapes. 6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Manchester, UK.
  • Gellie N, Breed MF, Lowe AJ. (2015). Laboratories for restoration science - developing the evidence base for cost-effective and resilient landscape restoration. 6th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, Manchester, UK.
  • Breed MF, Lundemo S, Ågren J. (2013). Genetic basis of leaf trichomes in natural populations of Arabidopsis thaliana. Congress of European Society for Evolutionary Biology, Lisbon, Portugal. 
  • Harris JBC, Ocana MS, Breed MF, Freile JF. (2013). Failure to account for surface area of species’ ranges may overestimate extinction risk. Society for Conservation Biology, Baltimore, USA. 
  • Breed MF, Ottewell KM, Gardner MG, Lowe AJ. (2013). Seed quality shifts and managing plant genetic resources in fragmented landscapes. Australian Wildlife Conservancy Australia Science Symposium, Yookamurra Sanctuary, SA. 
  • Breed MF, Ottewell KM, Gardner MG, Lowe AJ. (2012). Seed sourcing guidelines for restoration success. Society for Ecological Restoration, Perth, WA. 
  • Breed MF. (2012). Seed quality shifts and managing plant genetic resources in fragmented landscapes. Linnean Centre for Plant Biology, Uppsala, Sweden. 
  • Breed MF. (2011). Developing best-practice seed sourcing strategies in the Murray Darling Basin that are resilient to climate change. Field Naturalists Society of South Australia, Adelaide, SA. 
  • Breed MF, Hailer F, Darimont C, Leonard J. (2008). Dire genetic effects of hunting on wolves in coastal Alaska. 33rd Ecological Society of Australia, Sydney, NSW.
  • Breed MF, Hailer F, Darimont C, Leonard J. (2008). Dire genetic effects of hunting on wolves in coastal Alaska. Australasian Wildlife Management Society, Fremantle, WA. [Best poster award]
  • Breed MF, Hailer F, Darimont C, Leonard J. (2008). Dire genetic effects of hunting on wolves in coastal Alaska. Australian Mammal Society, Darwin, NT. [Best poster award]


Entry last updated: Tuesday, 24 Nov 2015

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