University Staff Directory The University of Adelaide Australia
Faculties & Divisions | People A to Z | Media Expertise | Phonebook
Public browsing [Login]
Text Zoom: S | M | L

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

To link to this page, please use the following URL:


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

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 interested in developing conservation and restoration solutions from studying plant adaptation and community ecology. I work closely with the restoration sector (including community, professional, government groups) and many postgraduate students and academics. I have three main areas of research:

1. Adaptation of plants along environmental clines. I use this information to delineate seed zones, help inform species choices, and stratify wildlife corridor planning. 

2. Developing Key Performance Indicators for restoration. I am establishing long-term experiments to compare traditional, expensive ecological methods with novel, rapid environmental genomic methods. 

3. Improving pollination services. I am testing ecosystem engineering experiments to help safeguard natural and agricultural systems against imminent honeybee collapse from Varroa mite, by engineering increases in native pollinators. 

I supervise two PhD students - Nicholas Gellie and Kimberly McCallum - and two Honours students - Dona Kireta and Jason Boxall.

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

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) and Dr Sverre Lundemo (Uppsala University, Sweden). 

I completed my PhD at the University of Adelaide, supervised by Prof Andrew Lowe, Dr Kym Ottewell, Dr Michael Gardner. 
I showed that pollen diversity 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, using a similar design to that proposed here. I showed this effect in a continent-wide survey of seed provenances of big-leaf mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla); the world’s most highly prized timber species and an ecosystem keystone species. I proposed the ‘constrained inbreeding hypothesis’ to potentially explain these pollen diversity effects (Breed MF et al. 2014 PLoS ONE). 
I successfully applied for grants to cover all financial requirements of my PhD (consumables: AU$100k; travel: AU$12k) and was included in the coordination process of a successful ARC Linkage project (LP110200805) with Profs Andrew Lowe, Corey Bradshaw and Barry Brook. My role included generating the novel approaches and negotiating support from industry partners ($120K cash and $1.4M in-kind). 

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), Journal of Ecology, Ecography, Environmental Science & Policy, Conservation Genetics, PLoS ONE, Restoration Ecology, Journal of Plant Ecology, Population Ecology, Forest Ecology & Management, 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 (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. Lowe AJ, Cavers S, Boshier D, Breed MF, Hollingsworth P. The resilience of forest fragmentation genetics – no longer a paradox – we were just looking in the wrong place. Heredity
  2. Breed MF, Christmas MJ, Lowe AJ (in press). Higher levels of multiple paternities increase seedling survival in the long-lived tree Eucalyptus gracilis. PLoS ONE. 9(2): e90478
  3. Davis SJ, Cavers S, Finegan B, White A, Breed MF, Lowe AJ (in press). Pollen-mediated genetic rescue following stand-replacing disturbance in a neotropical pioneer tree, Vochysia ferruginea Mart. Heredity. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2013.95
  4. Breed M.F., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Marklund M.H.K., Dormontt E.E., Lowe A.J. (in press) Mating patterns and pollinator mobility are critical traits in forest fragmentation genetics.Heredity. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2013.48
  5. Breed M.F., Ottewell K.M., Gardner M.G., Marklund M.H.K., Stead M.G. Harris J.B.C. & Lowe A.J. (in press) Mating system and early viability resistance to habitat fragmentation of a bird-pollinated eucalypt. Heredity. DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2012.72

  6. 2014

  7. Dormontt EE, Gardner MG, Breed MF, Rodger J, Prentis PJ, Lowe AJ (accepted 12 Aug 2014). Sequential genetic bottlenecks in time and space: Reconstructing invasions from contemporary and historical collections. PLoS ONE. 9(9): e106874
  8. Guerin G, Martín-Forés I, Biffin E, Baruch Z, Breed MF, Christmas MJ, Cross HB, Lowe AJ (accepted 20 Feb 2014). Global change community ecology beyond species sorting: a quantitative framework based on Mediterranean Biome examples. Global Ecology and Biogeography. DOI: 10.1111/geb.12184
  9. 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.
  10. 2013

  11. 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.[pdf]
  12. 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
  13. 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 [Pdf].
  14. 2012

  15. 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. [Pdf]
  16. 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.
  17. 2011

  18. 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. [pdf]
  19. 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 M.F., James E.A. & Hoffmann A.A. (2011). Assessing the benefits and risks of translocations in changing environments: a genetic perspective. Evolutionary Applications 4(6), 709-725. [pdf]
  20. 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 [pdf]. 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



  • Breed MF, Ottewell KM, Gardner MG, Lowe AJ (Oct 2012) Seed quality shifts and managing plant genetic resources in fragmented landscapes. Linnean Centre for Plant Biology in Uppsala - Plant Science for Future Needs. Invited talk.
  • Breed MF (July 2012) Restoration genetics in neotropical and Australian mallee forests. TERN science meeting. Invited talk.
  • Breed MF (April 2011) Developing best-practice seed sourcing strategies in the Murray Darling Basin that are resilient to climate change. Field Naturalists Society of South Australia. Invited talk.
  • Breed MF (June 2010) Restoration Genetics of Australian Mallee and Neotropical Forests. Departmental Seminar, Tulane University. Invited talk
  • Breed MF (June 2010) Restoration Genetics of Australian Mallee and Neotropical Forests. Departmental Seminar, University of Costa Rica. Invited talk
  • Breed MF (May 2010) The Environment Institute. Tree Planting Day. Community Involvement Program, Yookamurra Sanctuary. Funded presentation
  • Breed MF. (Feb 2010) Restoration Genetics of Murray-Darling and Neotropical Forests. School of Earth and Environmental Sciences symposium talk. Invited talk
  • Breed MF. (Oct 2009) Restoration Genetics of Murray-Darling and Neotropical Forests. ACEBB symposium talk. Invited talk
  • Breed MF, Hailer F, Darimont C, Leonard J. (Dec 2008) Genetic effects of culling. Conference Poster Presentation. 33rd Ecological Society of Australia Conference Sydney, Australia
  • Breed MF, Hailer F, Darimont C, Leonard J. (Oct 2008) Genetic effects of culling. Conference Poster Presentation. Australasian Wildlife Management Society Annual Conference 2008 Fremantle, Australia.
  • Breed MF, Hailer F, Darimont C, Leonard J. (Sept 2008) Genetic effects of culling. Conference Poster Presentation. 54th Australian Mammal Society Inc. Darwin, Australia.


Entry last updated: Monday, 16 Mar 2015

The information in this directory is provided to support the academic, administrative and business activities of the University of Adelaide. To facilitate these activities, entries in the University Phone Directory are not limited to University employees. The use of information provided here for any other purpose, including the sending of unsolicited commercial material via email or any other electronic format, is strictly prohibited. The University reserves the right to recover all costs incurred in the event of breach of this policy.