Professor Caroline Gross

Professor - School of Environmental and Rural Science

Caroline Gross

Phone: +61 2 6773 3759



In my research I aim to unravel the causes and effects of reproductive perturbations on plant population persistence.  Perturbations studied to date include:

  • exotic pollinators (e.g., Gross et al. 2010; Dafni et al. 2010),
  • habitat fragmentation (Fatemi & Gross 2009, Neal et al. 2010),
  • large scale disturbances from habitat clearing (Gross & Vary 2014) and fire (Gross et al. 2012),
  • smaller scale disturbances from forestry activities (Gross & Mackay 2014),
  • loss of mating morphs (Hadaddachi et al. 2014), and
  • the ecology and evolution of weeds (e.g., Xu et al. 2009).

I study endemic threatened species where reproductive effort is often compromised through to weedy species where elevated reproduction can accelerate the invasion process. This is a very important area of endeavour in Australia where 20% of the 20,000 plant species are threatened with extinction (Sjöström & Gross, 2006) and another c. 2,500 introduced plant species are threatening ecosystem integrity. I combine my expertise from working with both declining and ascending species to bring new knowledge for the rehabilitation of degraded and threatened ecological communities. There are two important lines of investigation in this work; the plant-pollinator interface and the role of disturbance in population persistence. I use a variety of techniques (e.g. pollination experiments in the field and glasshouse, seed bank analyses, seed viability testing, genetic testing) to work out why some species are in decline and how this may be arrested.


  • B.Sc.Hons - Flinders
  • Ph.D. - Flinders
  • Grad. Cert. Higher Ed.- UNE

Research Interests

Currently I am studying:

  1. the impacts of habitat fragmentation on the Rusty Fig (Ficus rubiginosa Moraceae); and
  2. the pollination ecology of highly disjunct cool temperate species such as Aristotelia australasica (Eleaocarpaceae).

I have had long standing interests in the impacts of introduced honeybees on plant fitness and native bee behaviour and I have a project to look at the effects of Apis cerana on native pollinator networks.

Plant Evolution and Pollination Group


Peer Reviewed Book Chapters

Gross, C.L. & M.A. Whalen (2009). Adriana. Flora of Australia 23:

Boulter, S.L., Kitching, R.L., Gross, C.L., Goodall, K.L. & Howlett, B.G. (2008) Floral morphology, phenology and pollination in the Wet Tropics. In: N. Stork & S. Turton (eds) Living in a Dynamic Tropical Forest Landscape, Blackwell Publishing. ISBN: 9781405156431, ISBN10: 1405156430

Ahmad, F., Banne, S., Castro, M., Chavarria, G., Clarke, J.,  Collette, L., Eardley, C.,  Fonseca, V., Freitas, B., French, C., Gemmill, B., Griswold, T., Gross, C.,  Kwapong, P., Lundall-Magnuson, P., Medellin, R., Partap, U., Potts, S.,  Roth,  D., Ruggiero, M., Urban, R., Willemse G. (2006). Pollinators and Pollination: A Resources Book For Policy And Practice. Editors Connal Eardley, Dana Roth, Julie Clarke, Stephen Buchmann and Barbara Gemmill. African Pollinator Initiative (API). Secretariat: ELCI, Nairobi, Kenya. Agricultural Research Council: Plant Protection Research Institute, Queenswood, 0121, Pretoria, South Africa.. ISBN 1-86849-310-5

Gross, C.L. (2005). Chapter 6. Pollinator Efficiency. In Dafni, A., Kevan, P. (Eds). Practical Pollination Biology. Enviroquest LtD, Cambridge, Canada.  ISBN 0-9680123-0-7.

Powell, J.M. and Gross, C.L. (2002). Styphelia. Flora of Australia 9

Powell, J.M. and Gross, C.L. (2002). Woollsia. Flora of Australia 9.

Powell, J.M. and Gross, C.L. (2002). Pentachondra. Flora of Australia 9.

Powell, J.M. and Gross, C.L. (2002). Melichrus. Flora of Australia 9.

Gross, C.L. and J.M. Powell (2002). Sprengelia. Flora of Australia 9.

Gross, C.L. (1995). Macadamia. Flora of Australia 16: 419-425.

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles

Gross, C.L., Fatemi, M., Julien, M., McPherson, H and R. van Klinken (2017). The phylogeny and biogeography of Phyla nodiflora (Verbenaceae) reveals native and invasive lineages throughout the world.  Diversity, 9(2), 20; doi:10.3390/d9020020

Tierney, D. A., Sommerville, K. D., Tierney, K. E., Fatemi, M., & Gross, C. L. (2017). Trading populations—can biodiversity offsets effectively compensate for population losses?  Biodiversity and Conservation, 10.1007/s10531-017-1348-2.  Pp 1-17.

Ruiz Talonia, L. Reid, NCH, Gross, C.L., Whalley, R (2017). Germination ecology of six species of Eucalyptus in shrink–swell vertosols: moisture, seed depth and seed size limit seedling emergence. Australian Journal of Botany, 65, 22-30.

Gross, C.L., Fatemi, M & I.H. Simpson (2016). Seed provenance for changing climates: early growth traits of non-local seed are better adapted to future climatic scenarios, but not to current field conditions. Restoration Ecology , 10.1111/rec.12474

Rader, R., Bartomeus, I., Garibaldi, L. A., Garratt, M. P., Howlett, B. G., Winfree, R., ... Gross, C.L. & Bommarco, R. (2016). Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(1), 146-151.

Pearl, H., Bonney, N.,  Whitehead, J., Rhodes, T., Simpson, I.H., Singye, R & C.L. Gross (2016).  Plant species richness, structure and life form respond to an altitudinal gradient in Central Bhutan, Eastern Himalayas. Bhutan Ecological Society, 2/3: 66-90

Gross, C.L. (2015). The buzz about Asian honey bees. Wildlife Australia, 52(3), 42.

Xu, C. Y., Tang, S., Fatemi, M., Gross, C.L., Julien, M. H., Curtis, C., & van Klinken, R. D. (2015). Population structure and genetic diversity of invasive Phyla canescens: implications for the evolutionary potential. Ecosphere, 6(9), 1-21.

Gross, C.L. & D. Mackay (2014). Two decades of demography reveals seed and seedling transitions limit population persistence in a translocated shrub. Annals of Botany 114 (1): 85-96 doi: 10.1093/aob/mcu082

Haddadchi A., Fatemi M., & C.L. Gross (2014). Clonal growth is enhanced in the absence of a mating morph: a comparative study of fertile stylar polymorphic and sterile monomorphic populations of Nymphoides montana (Menyanthaceae). Annals of Botany 113(3): 523-532.

Fatemi M, Houliston GJ, Haddadchi A  & C.L. Gross (2013). The cost-effective microsatellite markers for Banksia integrifolia (Proteaceae). Applications in Plant Sciences, 1(2): 1200130.

Haddadchi A, Gross C.L. & M. Fatemi (2013). The expansion of Arundo donax (Poaceae) in southeastern Australia is accompanied by genotypic variation. Aquatic Botany 104:153-161.

Fatemi, M., Haddadchi, A & C.L. Gross (2012). The discovery of microsatellite markers for Hardenbergia violacea (Fabaceae), using next-generation sequencing. Conservation Genetics Resources, 4: 1063-1065.

Gross, C.L., Nelson, P.A., Haddadchi, A & M. Fatemi (2012). Somatic mutations contribute to genotypic diversity in sterile and fertile populations of the threatened shrub, Grevillea rhizomatosa (Proteaceae). Annals of Botany 109(2): 331-342. doi:10.1093/aob/mcr283

Moore, C & C.L. Gross (2012). Great Big Hairy Bees! Regulating the European Bumblebees, Bombus terretris L. What does it say about the Precautionary Principle. International Journal of Rural Law & Policy, Occasional paper,

Price, J.N., Macdonald, M.J., Gross, C.L. R.D.B. Whalley & I.H. Simpson (2011).Vegetative reproduction facilitates early expansion of Phyla canescens in a semi-arid floodplain. Biological Invasions 13: 285-289  DOI 10.1007/s10530-010-9839-z.

Price, J.N., Whalley, R.D.B., van Klinken, R.D., Duggin, J.A. & C.L. Gross (2011). Periodic rest from grazing provided no control of an invasive perennial forb. The Rangeland Journal 33: 287-298.

Price, J.N., Macdonald, M.J., Gross, C.L. R.D.B. Whalley & I.H. Simpson (2011).Vegetative reproduction facilitates early expansion of Phyla canescens in a semi-arid floodplain. Biological Invasions 13: 285-289  DOI 10.1007/s10530-010-9839-z.

Dafni, A., Kevan, P., Gross C. L. & K. Goka (2010). Bombus terrestris, pollinator, invasive and a pest: an assessment of problems associated with its widespread introductions for commercial purposes. Applied Entomology & Zoology 45(1): 101-113.

Gross, C.L. (2010). Two new species and reapplied name in Sesbania Scop. (Fabaceae, Sesbanieae) for Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 23(6): 1-14.

Gross, C.L., Gorrell, L., MacDonald, M.J. & M. Fatemi (2010). Honeybees facilitate the invasion of Phyla canescens (Verbenaceae) in Australia – no bees no seed! Weed Research 50 (4): 364-372.

Neal, J.M., Hardner, C.M. & C.L. Gross (2010). Population demography and fecundity do not decline with habitat fragmentation in the rainforest tree Macadamia integrifolia (Proteaceae). Biological Conservation 143 (11): 2591-2600, DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2010.06.029

Price, J., Gross, C.L. & R.D.B. Whalley (2010). Prolonged summer flooding switched dominance from the invasive weed Phyla canescens to native species in one small ephemeral wetland. Ecological Restoration & Management 11(1): 61-63.

Price, J., Wright, B.R. Gross, C.L. & R.D.B. Whalley (2010). Comparison of seedling emergence and seed extraction techniques for estimating the composition of soil seed banks. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 1(2): 151-157

Fatemi, M, Gross, C.L. (2009). Life on the edge – High levels of genetic diversity in a cliff population of Bertya ingramii are attributed to B. rosmarinifolia (Euphorbiaceae). Biological Conservation, 142: 1461-1468.

Orchard, A.E., Gross, C.L. (2009). The misapplication of the name Croton urticoides A. Cunn., the reinstatement of the name Adriana tomentosa Gaud., and Allan Cunningham's 'book herbarium' at Chelsea Physic Garden. Australian Systematic Botany 22: 337-383.

Pisanu, P., Gross C.L. & L. Flood (2009). Reproduction in Wild Populations of the Threatened Tree Macadamia tetraphylla (Proteaceae) — Inter-population Pollen Enriches Fecundity in a Declining Species. Biotropica 41(3): 391-398.

Xu, Cheng-Yuan, Julien, M., Fatemi, M., Girod, C., van Klinken, R., Gross, C.L. & S. Novak (2009). Phenotypic divergence during the invasion of Phyla canescens in Australia and France: evidence for selection-driven evolution. Ecology Letters 12:1-13.

Caddy, H.A.R. & Gross, C.L. (2006) Population structure and fecundity in the putative sterile shrub, Grevillea rhizomatosa Olde & Marriott (Proteaceae). Proceedings of the Linnean Society of NSW, 127: 11-18, invited contribution for special issue.

Fatemi, M, Gross, C.L. (2008) Development and characterization of microsatellite markers for lippia (Phyla canescens: Verbenaceae). Molecular Ecology Resources 8(6): 1338-1339.

Fatemi, M, Gross, C.L. & Bruhl J.J (2007). The first phenetic analysis of species limits in Bertya (Euphorbiaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 20, 448–463.

Gross C.L. & H.A.R. Caddy (2006). Are differences in breeding mechanisms and fertility among populations contributing to rarity in Grevillea rhizomatosa (Proteaceae)? American Journal of Botany 93(12):1791-9.

Hogendoorn, K., Gross, C.L., Sedgley, M., & M.A. Keller (2006). Increased tomato yield through pollination by native Australian blue-banded bees. Journal of Economic Entomology, 99(3):828-33.

Sjöström, A & Gross, C.L. (2006). Life history characters and phylogeny are correlated with extinction risk in the Australian Angiosperms. Journal of Biogeography 33: 271-290.

Gross, C.L. (2005). A comparison of the sexual systems in the trees from the Australian tropics with other tropical biomes – more monoecy but why? American Journal of Botany, 92(6):907-919. *nb. published as a Special Paper* 

Simpson, S., Gross, C.L., & Silberbauer, L. (2005). Broom and honeybees: an alien liaison. Plant Biology 7(5): 541-548.

Rossetto, M., Gross, C.L., Jones, R., & Hunter, J. (2004). The Impact of Clonality on an Endangered Tree (Elaeocarpus williamsianus) in a Fragmented Rainforest. Biological Conservation 117:33-39.

Scott, B., & Gross, C.L. (2004).  Recovery directions for monoecious and endangered Bertya ingramii using autecology and comparisons with common B. rosmarinifolia (Euphorbiaceae). Biodiversity and Conservation. 13: 885-899.

Gross C.L., Bartier F.V.and Mulligan, D.R. (2003) Floral Structure, Breeding System and Fruit-set in the Threatened Sub-shrub Tetratheca juncea Smith (Tremandraceae). Annals of Botany 92 (6): 771-777.

Smith, J.A. & Gross, C.L. (2002).  The Pollination Ecology of Grevillea beadleana McGillivray (Proteaceae), an endangered shrub from Northern NSW. Annals of Botany 89: 97-108.

Gross C.L. (2001). The Effect of Introduced Honeybees on Native Bee Visitation and Fruit-Set in Dillwynia juniperina (Fabaceae) in a Fragmented Ecosystem.  Biological Conservation 102 (1): 89-95.

Gross, C.L. & Kukuk, P.F. (2001). Foraging strategies of Amegilla anomola at flowers of Melastoma affine – no evidence for separate feeding and pollinating anthers. Acta Horticulturae 561:171-178.

Tierney, D. & Gross, C.L. (2001). The Reproductive Ecology of Prostanthera junosis - is Recovery possible? Pacific Conservation Biology 7 (2): 118-123.

Gross, C.L., D.A. Mackay & Whalen M.A. (2000).  Aggregated Flowering Phenologies Among Three Sympatric Legumes

Gross, C.L. and Mackay D. (1998). Honeybees reduce fitness in the pioneer shrub Melastoma affine (Melastomataceae). Biological Conservation 86(2): 169-178.

Gross, C.L. (1996). Is resource overlap detrimental to three sympatric legumes? Australian Journal of Ecology 21: 133-143.

Gross, C.L., & Whalen M.A. (1996). A Taxonomic Revision of Adriana (Euphorbiaceae). Australian Systematic Botany 9(5):749-771.

Gross, C.L. (1993). The breeding system and pollinators of Melastoma affine (Melastomataceae); A pioneer shrub in tropical Australia. Biotropica 25 (4): 468-474.

Gross, C.L. (1993). The reproductive ecology of Canavalia rosea on Anak Krakatau, Indonesia. Australian Journal of Botany 41(4,5): 591-599.

Gross, C.L. & Hyland B.P.M. (1993). Two new species of Macadamia (Proteaceae) from north Queensland. Australian Systematic Botany 6: 343-350.

Gross, C.L. (1992). Floral traits and pollinator constancy: foraging by native bees among three sympatric legumes. Australian Journal of Ecology 17(1): 67-74.

Gross, C.L., M.A. Whalen & Andrew M.H. (1991). Seed dispersal and predation in a tropical savanna woodland in Northern Australia. Journal of Tropical Ecology 7: 99-112.

Gross, C.L. (1990). The breeding systems of three co-occurring legumes: Dillwynia hispida, D. uncinata and Pultenaea densifolia. Australian Journal of Botany 38(2): 207-215.