Doctor Karen Marinho Catunda


Graduated PhD 2022

Thesis Title

Growth and nutritive value of pastures under climate extremes

Research Project

Under a future that is both warmer and drier there is continued concern for the sustainability of livestock and dairy production around the globe. Current predictions suggest reductions in both the quantity and nutritional quality of the pasture feedbase that supports the diets of domestic livestock (e.g. cattle and sheep). Importantly, should the nutritional quality of natural pasture forage decline, farmers are forced to augment livestock diet using the supplemental feed, a factor that increases input costs in the livestock production systems under climate change scenarios. Despite the intensive study of pasture management systems over many years, there remain significant gaps in understanding of how climatic change, particularly climate extremes, drive the productivity and nutritional quality of pastures in an Australian context. In my PhD research I will investigate the nutritional responses of several pasture systems comprising different plant species, including combinations of C3 and C4 grasses and legumes under different climate extremes scenarios (drought and warming). This study will impose a unique manipulation of environmental and weather conditions in a series of experiments conducted in the Pastures and Climate Extremes - PACE - facilities (field and glasshouse). This research will provide valuable information for grazing and meat/dairy industries in Australia and abroad about new ways to proactively manage the impacts of climate change and extreme events on the feed base that underpins their success.


Catunda KLM, Churchill AC, Power SA, Moore BD,(2022) 'Near infrared spectroscopy calibration strategies to predict multiple nutritional parameters of pasture species from different functional groups', Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy, Volume 30, Issue 5

Churchill AC, Zhang H, Fuller KJ, Amiji B, Anderson IC, Barton CVM, Carrillo Y, Catunda KLM, Chandregowda MH, Igwenagu C, Jacob V, Kim GW, Macdonald CA, Medlyn BE, Moore BD, Pendall E, Plett JM, Post AK, Powell JR, Tissue DT, Tjoelker MG, Power SA, (2022) 'Pastures and Climate Extremes: Impacts of Cool Season Warming and Drought on the Productivity of Key Pasture Species in a Field Experiment', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol.13, Article no.836968

Zhang H, Powell JR, Plett JM, Churchill AC, Power SA, Macdonald CA, Jacob V, Kim GW, Pendall E, Tissue D, Catunda KM, Igwenagu C, Carrillo Y, Moore BD, Anderson IC, (2021) 'Climate warming negates arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal reductions in soil phosphorus leaching with tall fescue but not lucerne', Soil Biology and Biochemistry, vol.152, Article no.108075

Zhang H, Powell JR, Power SA, Churchill AC, Plett JM, Macdonald CA, Jacob V, Kim GW, Pendall E, Tissue DT, Catunda KLM, Igwenagu C, Carrillo Y, Moore BD, Anderson IC, (2021) 'Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal-mediated reductions in N2O emissions were not impacted by experimental warming for two common pasture species', Pedobiologia, vol.s 87-88, Article no.150744


Dr Ben Moore, Professor Sally Power, Dr Amy Churchill