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Dr Anita Chalmers


School of Environmental and Life Sciences (Environmental Science and Management)

Career Summary


Anita is a Lecturer in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences. She has been teaching in the discipline of Sustainable Resource Management at the Ourimbah Campus since 1999. She has taught a wide range of courses encompassing the sustainable management of land, water and vegetation, monitoring and assessment of vegetation, as well as community attitudes and values towards the environment. Her research interests focus on the disturbance ecology of plants and aims to improve the management of vegetation by understanding its response to natural and human disturbances. Research conducted by Anita and her students include the effects of soil disturbance and nutrients on grasslands, the effects of fire regimes on plant diversity, hanging swamps, tree hollows, dieback in woody wetlands within urbanising catchments and the population dynamics of threatened species. She has experience in rainforest, grassland, riparian/floodplain and wetland ecosystems. In collaboration with University of Newcastle geomorphologist, Professor Wayne Erskine, and researchers at Southern Cross University she has recently completed research on the vegetation at Widden Brook in the Hunter Valley of NSW. This research showed the important role that Casuarina cunninghamiana (River Oak) plays in river restoration (by enhancing the formation of in-channel benches) and that grazing by livestock reduces the recruitment of River Oaks. She also established the flow regimes typically experienced by River Oaks at Widden Brook. Anita is currently working on the riparian vegetation of Wollombi Brook, and its tributaries, with Professor Erskine. More research on the the links between vegetation, fluvial processes and sediment dynamics is needed if we are to effectively manage and restore riverine vegetation. Understanding how riparian and floodplain plant species respond to wet and dry climatic periods will also help us predict the impacts of climate change and determine environmental flow requirements. Since 2005, Anita has collaborated with the Australian Plants Society (Central Coast Group) and Gosford City Council on a field experiment established in the edge of a rainforest at Katandra Reserve near Gosford. The experiment is testing how useful the long-stem planting technique (developed by Bill Hicks for riparian zones) is for rainforest restoration. This research is aimed at improving on-ground restoration outcomes.

Research Expertise
My research is aimed at improving the management and conservation of vegetation through understanding its response to natural and human disturbances. *Threatened wetland plant communties - we have investigated woody wetland plant communities (Swamp Sclerophyll Forest and Parrammatta Red Gum woodland) on the Central Coast that may be impacted by increasing urbanisation of the surrounding catchment. *Riparian trees - we have investigated the role of Casuarina cunninghamiana (River She-oak) in channel contraction on Widden Brook in the Upper Hunter Valley, it's mortality due to floods and whether it's tree rings can be used to confirm the age of fluvial landforms. *Rare species - we have conducted research on a number of threatened species over the years, including Prostanthera junonis, Darwinia glaucophylla and Grevillea shiressii. *Restoration techniques - in collaboration with Gosford City Council and the Australian Plants Society (Central Coast Group), we established a field experiment in the edge of a rainforest edge at Katandra Reserve near Gosford to test how useful the long-stem planting technique (developed by Bill Hicks for riparian zones) is for rainforest restoration. *Tree hollows - we investigated the abundance and size of tree hollows in five native woodland species common on the Central Coast of NSW and also whether fire regime affects the abundance of tree hollows. *Soil disturbance and nutrient enrichment - a field experiment was established on the Northern Tablelands of NSW to investigate the response of grassland species to mechanical soil disturbance and nutrient enrichment. *Plant traits - comparisons of the traits of native and exotic grassland species showed that weeds have traits that enable them to avoid summer moisture stress and the impacts of grazing. The root morphology of grassland species has been investigated in root tubes and inter-specific differences can be explained by life-cycle, and the ability to access fertiliser and subsoil moisture. *Fire disturbance - we have investigated the effects of fire regime on plant diversity in Wallum Heath (dominated by Banksia aemula), response of Flannel flower (Actinotis helianthi) to fire regime and soil type and the effect of fire regime on the floristic composition of Hanging Swamps on the Central Coast of NSW.

Teaching Expertise
*Plant ecology and population processes, predominant vegetation types of Australia vegetation, botanical and adaptive features of Australian flora and plant identification. *Current issues in land and vegetation degradation, including fragmentation, weed invasion, altered fire regimes, altered hydrology, salinity and threatened plant species. *Strategies to manage Australian flora and plant communities including legislation, weed control, management and restoration of remnant vegetation, timber production and fire in vegetation systems. *Vegetation assessment and monitoring including sampling methods, assessment techniques for different management objectives and different spatial scales, tree hollow assessment, rare plant monitoring, vegetation as faunal habitat. *Values and attitudes towards the environment including environmental ethics and philosophies, effect of culture, environmental values, attitudes and behaviour, landscape preference, environmental politics, ecological economics, valuation techniques and economic instruments for resource management. *Strategies to change peoples attitudes and behaviour towards the environment, the use of ecological instruments and valuation techniques to manage natural resources, designing and implementing community surveys. *Physical, chemical and biological processes in lakes and streams, the hydrological cycle and water balance, water quality and aquatic habitat, ecological impacts of water use and water pollution. *Strategies to manage freshwater systems including wastewater and stormwater management, legislation, river restoration, water quality assessment and use of macro-invertebrates as indicators of river health.

Administrative Expertise
*Course co-ordination of four courses. *Honours Program Convenorr for the discipline of Applied Science from July 2006 - July 2010. *Timetable Co-ordinator for the School of Applied Science from 2000-2003. *Representative of the School of Applied Sciences (2003 - 2004) on the Faculty Student Recruitment Committee *Representative of the School of Environmental & Life Sciences (2009 - 2012) on the Faculty Community & Marketing Working Group

My primary research interest is in investigating the links between vegetation and river processes. This includes the role of vegetation in enhancing sedimentation and preventing erosion along waterways. This research will lead to an understanding of how vegetation is involved in the formation of fluvial landforms such as benches and floodplains. As there are feedbacks between fluvial-sedimentation processes, the vegetation and the hydologic regime, my research looks at the flow requirements of riverine plant species and their dependency on groundwater. This involves research on the recruitment of riverine (i.e. riparian and floodplain) species and the maintenance of mature populations. Species we are currently working on include Casuarina cunninghamiana (River Oak), Tristaniopsis laurina (Water Gum) and a number of native grass species. Further, I am interested in the application of this research to river restoration projects. This research needs to investigate environmental flow requirements that facilitate habitat creation and plant recruitment, as well as the use of the long-stem planting technique to obtain better on-ground outcomes for restoration projects. I have a secondary interest in the relationship between endangered woody wetland communities and their hydrologic regimes (i.e. flooding and groundwater requirements).


  • PhD, University of New England
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), University of Newcastle


  • Australian flora
  • environmental flows
  • floodplain vegetation
  • plant ecology
  • restoration
  • riparian vegetation
  • river restoration
  • riverine plant species
  • sustainable agriculture
  • sustainable forestry
  • vegetation management
  • woody wetlands

Fields of Research

050199Ecological Applications not elsewhere classified25
060299Ecology not elsewhere classified45
040699Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2014 - LecturerUniversity of Newcastle
School of Environmental and Life Sciences

Academic appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/02/2014 - Committee Member (Ministerial Appointment)NSW Scientific Committee
1/01/2001 - 1/12/2003 Committee Member (NSW Ministerial Appointment)Central Coast Regional Vegetation Committee


DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
Member - Hunter/Central Coast Region National Parks and Wildlife Services Research CommitteeHunter/Central Coast Region National Parks and Wildlife Services Research Committee
Member - Australian Ecological SocietyAustralian Ecological Society

Professional appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/03/1997 - 1/03/1999Project Manager/Research AssistantJohn Hunter Hospital, Newcastle
Newcastle Environmental Toxicology Research Unit


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Journal article (17 outputs)

2015Vuong QV, Hirun S, Chuen TLK, Goldsmith CD, Munro B, Bowyer MC, et al., 'Physicochemical, antioxidant and anti-cancer activity of a Eucalyptus robusta (Sm.) leaf aqueous extract', INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PRODUCTS, 64 167-174 (2015)
DOI10.1016/j.indcrop.2014.10.061Author URL
Co-authorsJennette Sakoff, Michael Bowyer, Vanquan Vuong, C Scarlett
2015Bhuyan DJ, Quan VV, Chalmers AC, van Altena IA, Bowyer MC, Scarlett CJ, 'Microwave-assisted extraction of Eucalyptus robusta leaf for the optimal yield of total phenolic compounds', INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PRODUCTS, 69 290-299 (2015)
DOI10.1016/j.indcrop.2015.02.044Author URL
Co-authorsVanquan Vuong, C Scarlett, Michael Bowyer
2015Vuong QV, Chalmers AC, Jyoti Bhuyan D, Bowyer MC, Scarlett CJ, 'Botanical, Phytochemical, and Anticancer Properties of the Eucalyptus Species.', Chem Biodivers, 12 907-924 (2015)
DOI10.1002/cbdv.201400327Author URL
Co-authorsC Scarlett, Michael Bowyer, Vanquan Vuong
2014Booyens C, Chalmers AC, Beckers D, 'The effect of disturbance regime on Darwinia glaucophylla (Myrtaceae) and its habitat.', Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 136 231-244 (2014) [C1]
2014Vuong QV, Hirun S, Chuen TLK, Goldsmith CD, Bowyer MC, Chalmers AC, et al., 'Physicochemical composition, antioxidant and anti-proliferative capacity of a lilly pilly (Syzygium paniculatum) extract', JOURNAL OF HERBAL MEDICINE, 4 134-140 (2014)
DOI10.1016/j.hermed.2014.04.003Author URL
CitationsWeb of Science - 1
Co-authorsVanquan Vuong, C Scarlett, Michael Bowyer
2014Vuong QV, Hirun S, Chuen TLK, Goldsmith CD, Bowyer MC, Chalmers AC, et al., 'Physicochemical composition, antioxidant and anti-proliferative capacity of a lilly pilly (Syzygium paniculatum) extract', Journal of Herbal Medicine, 4 134-140 (2014) [C1]

Lilly pilly (LP) fruit (Syzygium paniculatum Gaertn.) is widely grown in eastern Australia and has been used as food by indigenous Australians. However, there is limited information on its bioactivity. This study investigated the physicochemical and antioxidant properties of the crude fruit extract, identified its bioactive compounds and also assessed its potential anti-proliferative effect on pancreatic cancer cells. Our data showed that the LP extract was water-soluble and possessed a total phenolic content of 96 mg of gallic acid equivalents (GAE)/g, flavonoid levels of 52 mg catechin equivalents (CAE)/g, proanthocyanidin levels of 29 mg CAE/g. Several phenolic compounds such as gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, catechin and epicatechin were identified in the LP extract with levels of 0.39, 2.35, 0.47 and 2.9 mg/g, respectively. Results from six different antioxidant assays revealed that the LP extract pocessed potent antioxidant and free radical scavenging capacity. Although antioxidant capacity of the extract was lower than that of vitamin E, vitamin C and BHT, it could be significantly improved if the extract was to be further purified. We also showed that the LP extract (200 µg/mL) significantly reduced the viability of MiaPaCa-2 and ASPC-1 pancreatic cancer cells to levels comparable to that of the chemotherapeutic agent gemcitabine. For this reason lilly pilly should be further investigated for its health promoting and potential anti-cancer benefits, particularly for pancreatic cancer. © 2014 Elsevier GmbH.

Co-authorsC Scarlett, Vanquan Vuong, Michael Bowyer
2013Erskine F, Chalmers AC, Erskine WD, 'Survival of Casuarina cunninghamiana on a recovering sand-bed stream in the Wollombi Valley of coastal New South Wales', Cunninghamia, 13 295-304 (2013) [C1]
2012Erskine WD, Keene A, Bush R, Cheetham M, Chalmers AC, 'Influence of riparian vegetation on channel widening and subsequent contraction on a sand-bed stream since European settlement: Widden Brook, Australia', Geomorphology, 147-148 102-114 (2012) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 9Web of Science - 8
2012Chalmers AC, Erskine WD, Keene AF, Bush RT, 'Relationship between vegetation, hydrology and fluvial landforms on an unregulated sand-bed stream in the Hunter Valley, Australia', Austral Ecology, 37 193-203 (2012) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 1
2012Erskine WD, Saynor MJ, Chalmers AC, Riley SJ, 'Water, wind, wood, and trees: Interactions, spatial variations, temporal dynamics, and their potential role in river rehabilitation', Geographical Research, 50 60-74 (2012) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 1Web of Science - 1
2012Payne R, Chalmers AC, Laxton J, 'Understanding the characteristics of a groundwater-dependent ecosystem: Eucalyptus parramattensis Woodland at Porters Creek Wetland, NSW', Cunninghamia, 12 191-211 (2012) [C1]
2009Erskine WD, Chalmers AC, Keene A, Cheetham M, Bush R, 'Role of a rheophyte in bench development on a sand-bed river in southeast Australia', Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 34 941-953 (2009) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 18Web of Science - 14
2007Todarello P, Chalmers AC, 'The characteristics of five species of hollow-bearing trees on the New South Wales Central Coast', Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 128 1-14 (2007) [C1]
2007Chalmers AC, Bakewell G, Taggart A, 'Improved growth and survival of deep-planted long-stem tube-stock within a rainforest edge on the Central Coast of New South Wales: Preliminary results', Ecological Management & Restoration, 8 151-154 (2007) [C1]
2003Hensley MJ, Chalmers AC, Clover K, Gibson PG, Toneguzzi R, Lewis PR, 'Symptoms of Asthma: Comparison of a Parent-Completed Retrospective Questionnaire With a Prospective Daily Symptom Diary', Pediatric Pulmonology, 36 509-513 (2003) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 19Web of Science - 18
Co-authorsPeter Gibson, Michael Hensley
2001Gibson PG, Simpson J, Chalmers AC, Toneguzzi R, Wark PA, Wilson AJ, Hensley MJ, 'Airway Eosinophilia is associated with Wheeze but is uncommon in Children with Persistent Cough and Frequent Chest Colds', American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 164 977-981 (2001) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 43Web of Science - 35
Co-authorsJodie Simpson, Amanda Wilson, Peter Gibson, Michael Hensley, Peter Wark
1994Chalmers AC, Turner JC, 'Climbing plants in relation to their supports in a stand of dry rainforest in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales.', Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W, 114 73-90 (1994) [C1]
Show 14 more journal articles

Conference (6 outputs)

Author URL
Co-authorsTroy Gaston, Michael Bowyer, Vanquan Vuong, Judith Weidenhofer, Rick Thorne, C Scarlett, Natalie Moltschaniwskyj
2010Erskine WD, Chalmers AC, Townley-Jones ME, 'The importance of sediment control for recovery of incised channels', Sediment Dynamics for a Changing Future, Warsaw, Poland (2010) [E1]
CitationsScopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authorsMaureen Townley-Jones
2009Chalmers AC, Erskine WD, Keene A, Bush R, 'Flow regimes influencing riparian vegetation on an unregulated sand-bed stream in the Hunter Valley, NSW', H2009: Proceedings of H2009, the 32nd Hydrology and Water Resources Symposium, Newcastle, NSW (2009) [E1]
2009Keene A, Erskine WD, Chalmers AC, Bush R, Cheetham M, 'Riparian revegetation and creation of a pool-riffle sequence by river restoration works on the sand-bedded Widden Brook, Australia', The 7th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics: The International Conference of Science and Information Technologies for Sustainable Management of Aquatic Ecosystems CD-ROM, Concepcion, Chile (2009) [E1]
2009Erskine WD, Chalmers AC, 'Natural river recovery from catastrophic channel changes by vegetation invasion of the sand-bedded Wollombi Brook, Australia', The 7th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics: The International Conference of Science and Information Technologies for Sustainable Management of Aquatic Ecosystems CD-ROM, Concepcion, Chile (2009) [E1]
2006Chalmers AC, 'Trait differences between exotic and native species within a long-grazed temperate grassland on the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales', Proceedings of the 15th Australian Weeds Conference, Adelaide, SA (2006) [E1]
Show 3 more conferences

Grants and Funding


Number of grants5
Total funding$41,197

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20111 grants / $1,000

What factors influence the habitat, distribution and population structure of Grevillea shiressii Blakely (Proteaceae) a threatened species of the Central Coast of New South Wales?$1,000

Funding body: Australian Plants Society

Funding bodyAustralian Plants Society
Project TeamDoctor Anita Chalmers, Ms Diane Warman
SchemeValette Williams Scholarship in Botany
Funding Start2011
Funding Finish2011
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government

20061 grants / $29,197

Equity Research Fellowship Semester 1, 2006$29,197

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle
Project TeamDoctor Anita Chalmers
SchemeEquity Research Fellowship
Funding Start2006
Funding Finish2006
Type Of FundingInternal

20051 grants / $1,000

Hanging swamps of the Central Coast Plateau$1,000

Funding body: Central Coast Community Environment Network Inc.

Funding bodyCentral Coast Community Environment Network Inc.
Project TeamDoctor Anita Chalmers
SchemeResearch Grant
Funding Start2005
Funding Finish2005
Type Of FundingContract - Aust Non Government

20021 grants / $5,000

Factors influencing the population dynamics of Prostathera Junonis.$5,000

Funding body: Gosford City Council

Funding bodyGosford City Council
Project TeamMs Robin Stanger, Doctor Anita Chalmers
SchemePostgraduate Research Scholarship
Funding Start2002
Funding Finish2002
Type Of FundingOther Public Sector - Local

20001 grants / $5,000

Disturbance and the Integrity of Vegetation Remnants along Streambanks: The Wingello Creek Pilot Study.$5,000

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle
Project TeamDoctor Anita Chalmers
SchemeEarly Career Researcher Grant
Funding Start2000
Funding Finish2000
Type Of FundingInternal

Research Supervision

Past Supervision

YearResearch Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2011The Effect of Disturbance Regimes (Fire and Slashing) on Populations of Darwinia Glaucophylla on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia
Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
Principal Supervisor
2011Attitudes, Values, and Knowledge Relating to Australian Native Wildlife
Psychology, Faculty of Science and Information Technology
2006Response of Frog Populations to Habitat Attributes and Riparian Zone Rehabilitation Across an Urban-Rural Gradient in the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia
Environmental Studies, Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Dr Anita Chalmers


School of Environmental and Life Sciences
Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Focus area

Environmental Science and Management

Contact Details
Phone(02) 4349 4462
Fax(02) 4348 4145


BuildingScience Offices
10 Chittaway Road
Ourimbah, NSW 2258