Alex has a BSc with chemistry and biochemistry majors, MSc in microbial enzymology and a PhD in the ecotoxicology of metals in estuarine plants. Over the past 40 years she has been involved in a range of research projects and research consultancies in estuarine plant ecology and plant ecotoxicology and has supervised and co-supervised numerous senior undergraduate and postgraduate and Honours research projects, Masters by research and PhD students.
Alex is currently an Honorary Associate of the Faculty of Science and the Project Coordinator and presenter of short courses for contaminated site professionals in Contaminated Site Assessment, Remediation and Management program offered by the School of Life Sciene with the support of NSW EPA. At various times in the past she has been Head of Department, Associate Head of Department, Course Director of both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and First-Year Coordinator. She has taught widely in the environmental science area at UTS, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.
She is a member of NSW Site Auditors Accreditation Panel and of the Environmental Hazards Subcommittee of NSW Environmental Trust.
Associate Editor, Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology
Member, SETAC Asia Pacific; AGLA
Conservation and management of estuarine plant communities
Ecotoxicology of heavy metals in estuarine plants
Phytotoxicity studies of crop and native species to underpin the development of reliable EILs for metals in contaminated sites in Australia
Phytoremediation potential of Australian native plants
In addition to initiating, developing, and presenting the short course modules for contaminated site professionals, the most recent undergraduate teaching and coordination was in:
Environmental Protection and Management
Biological Hazards and Toxicology
Development and presentation of post graduate subject Advanced Communication Skills in Science
Sommerville, K.D., Rossetto, M. & Pulkownik, A. 2013, 'Maximising adaptive potential in translocated populations of clonal saltmarsh plants: a case study on Wilsonia backhousei, Convolvulaceae', Wetlands Ecology and Management, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 339-351.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
We investigated the implications of clonality for translocation of Wilsonia backhousei, a threatened, outbreeding, saltmarsh plant with tidally-dispersed fruit. Eight microsatellite loci were used to characterise samples from three estuaries in New South
Sommerville, K.D., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2012, 'Reproductive Biology Of A Threatened Australian Saltmarsh Plant - Wilsonia Backhousei', Aquatic Botany, vol. 99, pp. 1-10.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The reproductive biology of a threatened saltmarsh plant, Wilsonia backhousei Hook.f., was investigated with a view to improving conservation and restoration outcomes for the species. Population phenology was studied every two weeks, over two consecutive
Melville, F.R. & Pulkownik, A. 2007, 'Investigation Of Mangrove Macroalgae As Biomonitors Of Estuarine Metal Contamination', Science Of The Total Environment, vol. 387, no. 1-3, pp. 301-309.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This study examined the potential use of macroalgae epiphytic on mangrove aerial roots as biomonitors of estuarine contamination. The metal concentrations of macroalgae were investigated in four estuaries in the vicinity of Sydney, Australia, and compare
Melville, F.R. & Pulkownik, A. 2007, 'Seasonal and spatial variation in the distribution of mangrove macroalgae in the Clyde River, Australia', Estuarine Coastal And Shelf Science, vol. 71, no. 3-4, pp. 683-690.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The objective of this study was to determine whether there was significant spatial and temporal variation in macroalgae epiphytic on pneumatophores of the Grey Mangrove, Avicennia marina (Forsk.) Vieth., in the Clyde River, located 280 km south of Sydney, Australia. Three estuarine sites in th Clyde River were surveyed seasonally on four occasions over a two-year period and algal distribution and abundance assessed in respect to temporal, inte-site, intertidal (from front to back of mangrove stand) and vertical (from bottom to top of pneumatophores) variation. Sediment and water characteristics, including nutrient levels, were also assessed in order to examine all variables of potential influence on algal distribution and abundance. The results indicated that intertidal position within sites, and vertical height along the length of the pneumatophore, were the greatest influecne on algal frequency and biomass. Individual species dominated in different intertidal and vertical zones. These observations together with the identification of threee species of macroalgae that fulfil the criteria for bioindicators/bioonitos of environmental impacts are discussed.
Pham, N., Pulkownik, A. & Buckney, R.T. 2007, 'Assessment of heavy metals in sediments and aquatic organisms in West Lake (Ho Tay), Hanoi, Vietnam', Lakes and Reservoirs: Research and Management, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 285-294.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
West Lake (Ho Tay) is the largest freshlake in Hanoi, Vietnam. It has a surface area of â 500 ha and a total volume of >107 m3, and is 1-3.5 m in depth. West Lake has been classified as needing protection because of its valuable freshwater genetic resources. Noting that it has been extensively affected by pollution, the objective of the present study was to examine the extent of heavy metal contamination of the sediments and commercially important biota in the lake. Heavy metal concentrations in the sediment from most of 24 samples in West Lake exceeded the Ontario Ministry of Environment Screening Level for chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), lead (Pb) and zinc (Zn) concentrations. Aquatic organisms from the lake also were found to be contaminated by heavy metals. The average Zn concentrations in snails and mussels tissues ranged between 174 and 415.Î¼g g-1, and the Pb concentrations between 3.5 and 5.2 Î¼g g-1. The Cu concentration in shrimp (52 Î¼g g-1) and snail (189 Î¼g g-1), and the Pb concentration in all fish species and shrimp from the lake (2.0-5.2 Î¼g g-1) exceeded the Food Standard Australia-New Zealand (FSANZ) health standards for human consumption. The Cd concentration in Cyprinus carpio also exceeded the FSANZ standard. The implications of these study findings for the effective management of the food and ecological resources of West Lake are discussed. Â© 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation Â© 2007 Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Pham, N., Buckney, R.T. & Pulkownik, A. 2007, 'Metal speciation in sediment in West Lake (Ho Tay), Hanoi, Vietnam', International Journal of Water, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 356-367.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The speciation patterns of Cd, Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn in 24 sediment samples from West Lake, Vietnam were investigated using a sequential extraction scheme modified from Tessier et al. The results indicated that only a very small portion of the total metal was easily available (found in the exchangeable (<5%) and carbonate (<15%) fractions for all metals except Mn). Stably bound metals account for the major amounts (25-47%) of Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn. The sequential extraction is useful to indirectly assess the potential mobility and bioavailability of the heavy metals in the sediment. The mobility of these metals is related to their solubility and geochemical forms, and it decreases in the order: Mn > Cd > Zn > Pb > Cr > Cu. Significant correlations among all extracted fractions for all six metals were observed. The number of correlations between any two metal binding fractions suggests that they might be discharged from the same pollution source.
Melville, F. & Pulkownik, A. 2006, 'Mangrove macroalgae as potential estuarine test species in phytotoxicity tests using physiological endpoints', Australasian Journal of Ecotoxicology, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 21-28.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Melville, F.R. & Pulkownik, A. 2006, 'Investigation of mangrove macroalgae as bioindicators of estuarine contamination', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 52, no. 10, pp. 1260-1269.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
This study examined the potential use of macroalgae epiphytic on mangrove aerial roots as indicators of estuarine contamination. The distribution and abundance of macroalgae was investigated in four estuaries in the vicinity of Sydney, Australia, and com
Sommerville, K.D., Rossetto, M. & Pulkownik, A. 2006, 'Isolation and characterization of polymorphic microsatellite loci from Wilsonia backhousei (Convolvulaceae)', Molecular Ecology Notes, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 419-421.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Wilsonia backhousei is a clonal saltmarsh plant restricted to the southern latitudes of Australasia and threatened in New South Wales. We have identified eight informative microsatellite loci in the species from (AG)(n)- and (AC)(n)-enriched libraries. I
Melville, F.R., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2005, 'Zonal and seasonal variation in the distribution and abundance of mangrove macroalgae in the Parramatta River, Australia', Estuarine Coastal And Shelf Science, vol. 64, no. 2-3, pp. 267-276.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The purpose of this study was to examine the spatial and temporal variation of macroalgae epiphytic on pneumatophores of the Grey mangrove, Avicennia marina (Forsk.) Vierh., in the Parramatta River, the major estuarine system flowing into Sydney Harbour.
Melville, F.R., Burchett, M. & Pulkownik, A. 2004, 'Genetic variation among age-classes of the mangrove Avicennia marina in clean and contaminated sediments', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 49, pp. 695-703.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Macfarlane, G.R., Pulkownik, A. & Burchett, M. 2003, 'Accumulation and distribution of heavy metals in the grey mangrove, Avicennia marina (Forsk.)Vierh.: biological indication potential', Environmental Pollution, vol. 123, no. 1, pp. 139-151.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Burchett, M.D., Allen, C., Pulkownik, A. & Macfarlane, G. 1999, 'Rehabilitation of saline wetland, Olympics 2000 site, Sydney (Australia) - II: Saltmarsh transplantation trials and application', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 37, no. 8-12, pp. 526-534.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The New South Wales Olympic Co-ordination Authority, which is responsible for the redevelopment of the site for the Olympic Games 2000, Sydney, is committed to the rehabilitation of the remnant ecosystems remaining on the site. This paper describes a 3-year saltmarsh transplantation project, and resulting management approaches for the rehabilitation of other saline wetland areas on the site. Two series of cuttings (spring and autumn) were made, including three dominant species and three species rare in Sydney. It was found that all the species could be propagated without difficulty, but field survival and growth were much higher for the spring series than the autumn one. Measurement was also made of the colonisation of mangrove and saltmarsh species that occurred at the site over the course of the trials. New understandings of estuarine wetland colonisation have emerged, and the information has been used to develop methods of transplantation for other parts of the Olympic site, and to define management needs for monitoring success.
Burchett, M.D., Pulkownik, A., Grant, C. & Macfarlane, G. 1999, 'Rehabilitation of saline wetlands, Olympics 2000 site, Sydney (Australia) - I: Management strategies based on ecological needs assessment', Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 37, no. 8-12, pp. 515-525.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The Homebush Bay area, Sydney, site of the Olympic Games 2000, has been largely occupied for nearly a century by an abattoir, brickworks, armaments depot and waste dumps. However, it contains remnants of original ecosystems, including two estuarine wetlands, and the Olympic Co-ordination Authority (OCA), set up to manage the redevelopment of the site, is committed to the rehabilitation of these ecosystems. The ecological approaches and rehabilitation measures used for one of the wetlands are detailed. Apart from a history of disturbance, it has for 10 years been without tidal flushing. However, these wetlands are the largest remaining in the Sydney estuary, and are significant for a number of reasons including biodiversity and waterbird conservation. The ecological parameters of the site, the results of a 'before-restoration-impact' study , and the iterative links between science and management in the introduction of the rehabilitation measures, are presented. Criteria for success are discussed, along with biomonitoring strategies to test success.
Ralph, P.J., Burchett, M. & Pulkownik, A. 1992, 'Distribution Of Extractable Carbohydrate Reserves Within The Rhizome Of The Seagrass Posidonia-Australis Hook F', Aquatic Botany, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 385-392.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Rhizomes of Posidonia australis Hook. f., collected from Botany Bay on the eastern coast of Australia, were analysed for extractable carbohydrates. The concentration of extractable carbohydrate in the stelar tissue of the rhizome was significantly higher
Burchett, M.D., Clarke, C.J., Field, C.D. & Pulkownik, A. 1989, 'Growth and respiration in two mangrove species at a range of salinities', Physiologia Plantarum, vol. 75, no. 2, pp. 299-303.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Growth and dark respiration rates were measured in leaves and roots of seedlings of Avicennia marina (Forsk.) Vierh, (grey mangrove), and Aegiceras corniculatum (L.) Blanco (river mangrove). Plants were grown in a soil mixture at ambient temperatures and watered with 0.25 and 100% seawater. Oxygen uptake was measured in excised root and leaf samples. In both species growth was maximal in 25% seawater, and root respiration was lowest in 100% seawater. Differences were found between the two species in the responses of leaf respiration to salinity. In A. corniculatum leaf respiration was raised in both 25 and 100% seawater, while in A. marina only leaves in 100% seawater showed higher rates of respiration. These results are consistent with the view that A. marina is the more salttolerant of the two species. In A. corniculatum the respiration rates of the hypocotyl were also measured, and were much higher in 100% seawater than in the other two treatments. The results suggest that at high salinities there is a high metabolic cost in the shoots of both species, and that at such salinities rates of root respiration may be limited by the supply of substrate from the shoots. Copyright © 1989, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
Mitchell, R.L., Burchett, M.D., Pulkownik, A. & McCluskey, L. 1988, 'Effects of environmentally hazardous chemicals on the emergence and early growth of selected Australian plants', Plant and Soil, vol. 112, no. 2, pp. 195-199.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The effect of soil-incorporated copper, tri-allate, and anthracene on the emergence and early growth of three Australian native species (Banksia ericifolia, Casuarina distyla and Eucalyptus eximia) and three crop species (Avena sativa, Cucumis sativus and Glycine max), was assessed using OECD Test Guideline 208. The crop species are sensitive species used in overseas phytotoxicity testing, and their responses were compared with those of the native species. Seeds were grown in pots in a glasshouse in a sandy loam soil at the chemical concentrations of 0, 10, 100, 1000 and 2000 mg kg -1 . LC50 and EC50 values were determined for each species. The most sensitive species was the monocotyledon A. sativa, while among the five dicotyledons C. distyla was most sensitive. All three chemicals delayed emergence and affected seedling growth. The results indicate that the conditions of the OECD Test Guideline can be met under Australian conditions, but that the Guideline requires modification for use with Australian native species. © 1988 Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Burchett, M.D., Field, C.D. & Pulkownik, A. 1984, 'Salinity, growth and root respiration in the grey mangrove, Avicennia marina', Physiologia Plantarum, vol. 60, no. 2, pp. 113-118.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Relationships between growth parameters and root respiration under various conditions of salinity were investigated in seedlings of the grey mangrove Avicennia marina (Forsk.) Vierh. Growth, root/shoot ratios, leaf succulence and osmotic potential of leaves were measured for seedlings grown for 6–8 weeks in 100, 50, 25 and 0% seawater. Oxygen uptake of root segments, from distal to proximal ends of roots, was measured for all treatments. Total growth was maximal in 25% seawater, highest leaf succulence was obtained in 50% seawater, and highest leaf osmotic potential in 100% seawater. Oxygen uptake in distal root segments, as measured both by Clark oxygen electrode and Warburg manometry, showed a stimulation in the presence of salt that closely paralleled growth stimulation. The rates of respiration were highest in 25% seawater. The oxygen uptake was not stimulated by salt per se, since concentrations higher than 25% were associated with a decline in rate of oxygen uptake from the maximum. Values for the respiratory quotient approximated to one in all treatments. Avicennia marina has been reported to exclude from its roots about 90% of the salt in the surrounding medium. It might have been expected that increased concentrations of salt in the growth medium would be associated with a standard salt respiration response in the roots; however, this was not obtained. Copyright © 1984, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved