Dr Nick Williams is a plant ecologist at the University of Melbourne. Nick’s research investigates the ecology of urban areas in particular, grassland ecology and restoration, green infrastructure for climate change adaptation and weed invasions. Nick’s research has highlighted how surrounding landscapes influence the processes that occur in remnant habitats, such as edge effects and local extinctions, and, has developed ways to make urban areas more biodiversity friendly.
Native grasslands are defined by being treeless and being dominated by grasses. The treeless-ness of the ecosystem can be caused by a number of environmental factors including drought and not being enough moisture to support tree growth during summer, but also by the soil type that the grasslands grow on. Typically this is heavy clays that in summer dry out and crack, which fractures the roots of small tree seedlings preventing them establishing.