Dr Lindsay Turnbull

Associate Professor

Research Description

I am a plant ecologist and I'm mainly interested in how and why plant species are so different to each other. Why did these differences evolve and what are the consequences for ecosystems? For example, plants produce seeds of many different sizes: the coco de Mer (a palm tree native to the Seychelles) can kill you if a seed happens to fall off while you're standing underneath the tree! In contrast, orchids seeds are so small and poorly provisioned that they can't even germinate without the help of mycorrhizal fungi. Why this diversity exists and how it persists are the key questions that drive my research.

Recent projects have included: interactions between plants and insects; the effects of organic farming on biodiversity and plant growth modelling.

More details of all these projects and of group members and their interests can be found under: www.plantecol.org

Publications (while at this department)



  • Turnbull, L. A., Ozgul, A., Accouche, W., Baxter, R., ChongSeng, L., Currie, J. C., Doak, N., Hansen, D. M., Pistorius, P., Richards, H., van de Crommenacker, J., von Brandis, R., Fleischer-Dogley, F. and Bunbury, N. (2015) Persistence of distinctive morphotypes in the native range of the CITES-listed Aldabra giant tortoise. Ecology and Evolution, 5: 5499–5508. doi:10.1002/ece3.1764. OPEN ACCESS
  • Guilbaud C.S.E., Dalchau, N., Purves, D.W. and Turnbull, L.A. (2015) Is 'Peak N' key to understanding the timing of flowering in annual plants. New Phytologist 205: 918-927.


  • Schneider et al. (2014) Gains to species diversity in organically farmed fields are not propagated at the farm level. Nature Communications
  • Lüscher et al. (2014) Appropriate metrics to inform farmers about species diversity. Environmental Science and Policy 41: 52-62.
  • Tuck SL, C Winqvist, F Mota, J Ahnström, LA Turnbull and J Bengtsson. (2014) Land-use intensity and the effects of organic farming on biodiversity: a hierarchical meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Ecology 51: 746-755. OPEN ACCESS
  • Turnbull LA. (2014) Ecology's dark matter: the elusive and enigmatic niche. Basic and Applied Ecology 15: 93-100.
  • Lüscher et al. (2014) Responses of plants, earthworms, spiders and bees to geographic location, agricultural management and surrounding landscape in European arable fields. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 186: 124-134.


  • Joseph B, J Corwin, T Züst, B Li, M Iravani, G Schaepman-Strub, LA Turnbull and DJ Kliebenstein. (2013) High-throughput phenotyping and QTL mapping reveals differential nuclear and cytoplasmic genetic architectures for plant growth and defense within Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 25, 1929 - 1945.