Doctor Jane DeGabriel

Jane DeGabrielDr Jane DeGabriel joined the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment as a research fellow in July 2013.

She is an ecologist with broad interests in the evolution and ecology of animal-plant interactions, nutritional ecology and biodiversity. Her research integrates large-scale ecological field experiments, plant chemical analyses and molecular approaches.

At HIE, Jane is working with Prof. James Cook on several projects relating to the evolution and ecology of insect-plant interactions and the effects of environmental change on the stability of these relationships. In particular, her research will consider the effects of environmental factors on the classic fig-wasp mutualism.

Jane received her PhD from the Australian National University in 2009, under the supervision of Prof. Bill Foley and Dr Ian Wallis (ANU) and Prof. Chris Johnson (James Cook University; now at UTas). During her PhD, Jane developed a new approach for quantifying food quality for herbivores that integrated the negative effects of tannins on protein digestibility, 'available N'. She then applied this to demonstrate that spatial variation in available N in eucalypts affected the demography of brushtail possums in north Queensland.

Between 2008 and 2012, Jane worked on a range of postdoctoral projects in Scotland. With Prof. Stuart Piertney at the University of Aberdeen, she used DNA barcoding to map the distribution and abundance of biting midges in Scotland, in relation to their potential to spread bluetongue disease.

She then worked with Dr Justin Irvine and Prof. Steve Albon at the James Hutton Institute, investigating the effects of changing grazing regimes on plant biodiversity in the Scottish uplands. Returning to the University of Aberdeen, she worked with Prof. Xavier Lambin and Prof. Sue Hartley (University of York) on a study investigating the potential for silica defences in grasses to drive population cycles of field voles in northern England.

Jane also has strong interests in wildlife management and conservation policy. After returning to Australia in 2012, she worked as a Senior Programs and Policy Officer at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage on state-wide conservation of koalas and flying-foxes, before joining HIE.

Areas of research

Ecology and evolution of animal-plant interactions; nutritional ecology; biodiversity conservation; population ecology; molecular ecology; wildlife management; environmental policy

Recent grants

Moreton Bay fig: distribution of native genetic variation and threats from cultivation
Co-Researchers: Dr Paul Rymer and Professor James Cook
Partner/Funding Body: Australian Flora Foundation
Period: 2014-2016

Awards and recognition

  • Editorial Board: Ecological Society of Australia Hot Topics (since 2015)
  • Guest Editor, Functional Ecology: Special issue The functional role of silicon in plant biology (2016)
  • Guest Editor, Frontiers in Plant Science: Special issue Plant silicon interactions between organisms and the implications for ecosystems (2015)
  • Australian Mammal Society President's Award for an Early Career Researcher (2013)
  • Royal Society International Travel Grant (2010)
  • Runner-up best student poster prize, British Ecological Society Annual Meeting (2008)
  • John Seebeck Prize, Australian Mammal Society Annual Meeting (2006)
  • ANU Vice-Chancellor's Grant (2006)
  • Ethel Mary Read Research Grant, Royal Zoological Society of NSW (2006)
  • Ecological Society of Australia Student Research Grant (2005)
  • Ecological Society of Australia Student Travel Grant (2005)
  • Regular reviewer for international journals including Ecology and Journal of Animal Ecology

Selected publications

Book Chapters

Moore BD, DeGabriel JL, (2012) 'Integrating the effects of PSMs on vertebrate herbivores across spatial and temporal scales', In: Iason G R, Dicke M, Hartley SE (eds.) The Ecology of Plant Secondary Metabolites: From Genes to Global Processes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Journal Articles

DeGabriel JL, Moore BD, Felton AM, Ganzhorn JU, Stolter C, Wallis IR, Johnson CN, Foley WJ, (2014) 'Translating nutritional ecology from the laboratory to the field: Milestones in linking plant chemistry to population regulation in mammalian browsers', Oikos, vol.123, no.3, pp 298-308

DeGabriel  JL, Moore BD, Foley WJ, Johnson CN, 'Male-Biased Predation and Its Effect on Paternity Skew and Life History in a Population of Common Brushtail Possums (Trichosurus vulpecula)', Plos One, vol.9, no.11, Article number e111746

Moore BD, Foley WJ, Forbey JS, DeGabriel JL, (2013) 'Self-medication: A learning process?', Science, vol.340, no.6136, p 1041

Moles AT, Peco B, Wallis IR, Foley WJ, Poore AGB, Seabloom EW, Vesk PA, Bisigato AJ, Cella-Pizarro L, Clark CJ, Cohen PS, Cornwell WK, Edwards W, Ejrnaes R, Gonzales-Ojeda T, Graae BJ, Hay G, Lumbwe FC, Magana-Rodriguez B, Moore BD, Peri PL, Poulsen JR, Stegen JC, Veldtman R, Zeipel H, Andrew NR, Boulter SL, Borer ET, Cornelissen JHC, Farji-Brener AG, DeGabriel JL, Jurado E, Kyhn LA, Low B, Mulder CPH, Reardon-Smith K, Rodriguez-Velazquez J, De Fortier A, Zheng Z, Blendinger PG, Enquist BJ, Facelli JM, Knight T, Majer JD, Martinez-Ramos M, McQuillan P, Hui FKC, (2013) 'Correlations between physical and chemical defences in plants: tradeoffs, syndromes, or just many different ways to skin a herbivorous cat?', New Phytologist, vol.198, no.1, pp 252-263 

Windley HR, Wallis IR, DeGabriel JL, Moore BD, Johnson CN, Foley WJ, (2013) 'A faecal index of diet quality that predicts reproductive success in a marsupial folivore', Oecologia, vol.173, no.1, pp 203-212

Moles AT, Wallis IR, Foley WJ, Warton DI, Stegen JC, Bisigato AJ, Cella-Pizarro L, Clark CJ, Cohen PS, Cornwell WK, Edwards W, Ejrnaes R, Gonzales-Ojeda T, Graae BJ, Hay G, Lumbwe FC, Magana-Rodriguez B, Moore BD, Peri PL, Poulsen JR, Veldtman R, Von Zeipel H, Andrew NR, Boulter SL, Borer ET, Campon FF, Coll M, Farji-Brener AG, De Gabriel J, Jurado E, Kyhn LA, Low B, Mulder CPH, Reardon-Smith K, Rodriguez-Velazquez J, Seabloom EW, Vesk PA, Van Cauter A, Waldram MS, Zheng Z, Blendinger PG, Enquist BJ, Facelli JM, Knight T, Majer JD, Martinez-Ramos M, McQuillan P, Prior LD, (2011) 'Putting plant resistance traits on the map: a test of the idea that plants are better defended at lower latitudes',  New Phytologist, vol.191, pp 777-788

DeGabriel JL, Albon SD, Fielding DA, Riach DJ, Westaway S, Irvine RJ, (2011) 'Sheep removal leads to greater impacts by deer on heather and reductions in plant diversity', Journal of Applied Ecology, vol. 48, pp 1269-1277

De Gabriel JL, Moore BD, Marsh KJ, Foley WJ, (2010) 'The effect of plant secondary metabolites on the interplay between the internal and external environments of marsupial folivores', Chemoecology, vol.20, pp 97-108

De Gabriel JL, Moore BD, Foley WJ, Johnson CN, (2009) 'The effects of plant defensive chemistry on nutrient availability predict reproductive success in a mammal', Ecology, vol.90, pp 711-719

De Gabriel JL, Moore BD, Shipley LA, Krockenberger AK, Wallis IR, Johnson CN, Foley WJ, (2009) 'Inter-population differences in the tolerance of a marsupial folivore to plant secondary metabolites', Oecologia, vol.161, pp 539-548

De Gabriel JL, Wallis IR, Moore BD, Foley WJ, (2008) 'A simple, integrative assay to quantify nutritional quality of browses for herbivores', Oecologia, vol.156, pp 107-116

Isaac JL, DeGabriel JL, Goodman, BA, (2008) 'Microclimate of daytime den sites in a tropical possum: implications for the conservation of arboreal marsupials', Animal Conservation, vol. 11, pp 281-287

DeGabriel J, Foley WJ, Wallis IR, (2002) 'The effect of excesses and deficiencies in amino acids on the feeding behaviour of the common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)', Journal of Comparative Physiology B, vol. 172, pp 607-617

Reports and popular articles

Links to recent media coverage

Marsupial ecology

Flying foxes

Scottish midges

Invited seminars and keynote presentations

I have presented my research at 18 national and international conferences and have been invited to give the following keynote talks and seminars:

  • European Congress of Mammalogy, Paris, France. 'Grasses bite back! The role of induced silica defences in vole population cycles' (invited keynote speaker).
  • School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia, 2012. 'The role of plant defences in the demography of mammalian herbivores.'
  • Department of Biology, University of Hamburg, Germany, 2009. 'Chemical warfare in the Australian bush: Scaling up laboratory studies to understand how plant secondary metabolites affect wild marsupial folivores.'