Carl Gosper
DBCA (WA Government)

Carl Gosper profile photoDr Carl Gosper

Senior research scientist, WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions

See Dr Gosper’s full research profile here.

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

Dr Gosper’s research focuses on gaining a mechanistic understanding of threatening processes to improve the recovery of threatened flora and ecological communities, with specific interests in how the traits, ecology and evolution of Australia’s flora have contributed to their susceptibility and resilience to major threatening processes.

Key research themes

  • Implications of interactions between fire regimes, fragmentation and weed invasion for plant conservation. This work demonstrated that fire regimes vary with landscape context – specifically, that fire intervals increase with declining remnant size. Chronosequence sampling of vegetation demography, composition, structure and function, and manipulations with experimental fires, showed that senescence in the long-term absence of fire is a threat to the continued persistence of some wheatbelt flora, but that weed invasion was only pronounced at nutrient-enriched reserve edges. This research provided the evidence for land managers to safely introduce fire into wheatbelt reserve interiors to reduce the threat of senescence without the risk of facilitating weed invasion, and to define appropriate fire intervals for flora conservation.
  • Vegetation dynamics of obligate-seeder eucalypt woodlands. Satellite imagery analysis, dendrochronology and growth-rate modelling was used to establish a >400-year time since fire chronosequence in obligate-seeding eucalypt woodlands, over which changes in vegetation composition, structure, fuels, biomass and animal communities have been measured. These data have led to national recognition of the unique fire ecology of these woodlands and informed a conceptual model of vegetation dynamics which supports fire, carbon and biodiversity management.
  • Plant trait-based approaches to flora management. A plant trait-based approach to weed invasiveness and flora exposure and susceptibility to threats has underpinned, respectively, understanding of mechanisms of spread of frugivore-dispersed weeds and ongoing investigations of the biogeography, evolution and conservation of threatened flora in the Southwest Australian Floristic Region.

Current academic employment and positions

  • senior research scientist, Biodiversity and Conservation Science (BCS), WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA)
  • program leader, BCS Plant Science and Herbarium Program, WA DBCA.

Highest qualification

  • 2004: PhD, University of Wollongong.

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • best scientific project in program 3 of the Cooperative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management.

Roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • Dr Gosper has provided science leadership in WA DBCA, as program leader for the Plant Science and Herbarium Program and in the BCS Science Leadership Team. The Plant Science and Herbarium Program undertakes plant systematics and taxonomic research, maintenance, curation and development of the state’s plant collection in the Western Australian Herbarium, and conservation biology research on plant diversity, threatening processes and plant genetics.