I grew up in beautiful Sydney, surrounded by tall trees, and otherwise on camping trips, hikes, or on my grandfathers farm. At school I developed a passion for maths. My current research and teaching combines three great passions: biology, maths, and coding. While I still live in Sydney, I’ve spent time living abroad in Norway and Austria, and also visiting researchers in France, Panama and the USA.


  • PhD, Macquarie University Australia (2010)
  • MSc, Macquarie University Australia (2003)
  • BSc, UNSW Australia (2000)

Summary of research outputs

Articles: > 50 articles in leading international journals such as Nature, PNAS, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Biological Reviews, New Phytologist, Methods in Ecology & Evolution, Journal of Ecology.

Citations: > 1000 total citations, > 700 citations yr$^{-1}$, H-index of 32 [Google Scholar].

Datasets: Leading new compilation “AusTraits: curated plant trait database for the Australian flora”; previously produced global compilations: Biomass and Allometry Database, the Coral Traits Database.

Software: I have produced and made publicly available important software packages used in over 900 publications, including the statistical SMATR and the growth model, plant.

Reproducible science: I am making my publications entirely reproducible, enabling others to reproduce, adapt, apply and extend my results.

Research highlights

Global shift towards trait-based ecology: Enabled global quantification and comparison of plant strategies via four leading traits (Westoby et al 2002, 2256 cites) and quantifying trade-off in how plants function (e.g. Falster et al 2003, 409 cites, Zanne et al 2010, 290 cites).

How traits influence plant growth: New process-based models from my group show traits impact on growth (Falster et al 2011, 2018) and mortality (Camac et al 2018) of trees across diverse species.

Trait-based community assembly: My work shows how tradeoffs in plant function mediate species coexistence and how we can predict trait mixtures from first principles (Falster et al 2017, 33 cites).

Global rules of plant competition: Using growth data from > 3 million trees in plots across the world, Kunstler et al 2016 (345 cites) shows how functional traits influence competitive interactions.

Unified understanding of plant construction: Created world’s largest database on plant allometry (Falster et al 2015, 73 cites), improving estimates of Australian carbon stocks (Paul et al 2016, 57 cites).

Awards (2015-)

2019 Fenner Medal Australian Academy of Sciences, link

2015 Next Generation Ecologist, Ecological Society of Australia, link

Grants (2015-)

2020-2022 ARC Discovery, AUD 483,977; CI, Escalating the arms race: Understanding when and how trees get really tall (DP200100555)

2019 Australian Research Data commons, AUD 50k; CI, AusTraits: a curated plant trait database for the Australian flora

2019-2021 ARC Linkage, AUD 779,000; CI (5%), A global standard for the status of Wetlands of International Importance (LP180100159)

2017-2022 ARC Future Fellow, AUD 802,332; CI (100%), Niche 2.0 - Australian and global plant diversity from first principles