Doctor Sarah Facey


Sarah FaceyGraduated PhD 2017

Thesis Title

Resilience vs. decline: precipitation and atmospheric change drive contrasting responses in invertebrate communities

Research Project

Invertebrates form the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems, far outnumbering their vertebrate counterparts in terms of abundance, biomass and diversity. Often overlooked, these organisms contribute to structuring biological communities, through their roles in ecosystem functions like pollination and nutrient cycling. Changes in the composition of the Earth's atmosphere and climate, associated with emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases, have the potential to affect invertebrates and the ecosystems they underpin. Indeed, predicting the responses of species, and the communities they comprise, to global change is one of the great challenges facing modern ecology.

My project investigates the effects of predicted climatic and atmospheric change on invertebrate communities. Specifically, my projects use two of the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment's flagship experimental platforms to look at the effects of elevated CO2 (EucFACE) and changes in precipitation patterns (DRI-GRASS) on invertebrate communities. The results of this work will contribute to understanding how intricate natural systems may respond to our changing climate.

Research Project Supervisors

Dr Scott Johnson and Professor David Ellsworth


Book Chapter

Facey SL & Gherlenda AN, (2016) 'Forest invertebrate communities and atmospheric change'. in Global Climate Change and Terrestrial Invertebrates (in press) (eds S.N. Johnson & T.H. Jones). John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK.


Barnett KL, Johnson SN, Facey SL, Gibson-Forty EVJ, Ochoa-Hueso R, Power SA, (2021) 'Altered precipitation and root herbivory affect the productivity and composition of a mesic grassland', BMC Ecology and Evolution, vol.21, no.1, Article no.145

Jiang M, Medlyn BE, Drake JE, Duursma RA, Anderson IC, Barton CVM, Boer MM, Carrillo Y, Castaneda-Gomez L, Collins L, Crous KY, De Kauwe MG, dos Santos BM, Emmerson KM, Facey SL, Gherlenda AN, Gimeno TE, Hasegawa S, Johnson SN, Kannaste A, Macdonald CA, Mahmud K, Moore BD, Nazaries L, Neilson EHJ, Nielsen UN, Niinemets U, Noh NJ, Ochoa-Hueso R, Pathare VS, Pendall E, Pihlblad J, Pineiro J, Powell JR, Power SA, Reich PB, Renchon AA, Riegler M, Rinnan R, Rymer PD, Salomon RL, Singh BK, Smith B, Tjoelker MG, Walker JKM, Wujeska-Klause A, Yang JY, Zaehle S, Ellsworth DS, (2020) 'The fate of carbon in a mature forest under carbon dioxide enrichment', Nature, vol.580, no.7802, pp 227-231

Nooten SS, Schultheiss P, Rowe RC, Facey SL, Cook JM, (2019) 'Habitat complexity affects functional traits and diversity of ant assemblages in urban green spaces (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)', Myrmecological News, vol.29, pp 67-77

Facey SL, Fidler DB, Rowe RC, Bromfield LM, Nooten SS, Staley JT, Ellsworth DS, Johnson SN, (2017) 'Atmospheric change causes declines in woodland arthropods and impacts specific trophic groups', Agricultural and Forest Entomology, vol.19, no.1, pp 101-112

Johnson SN, Lopaticki G, Barnett K, Facey SL, Powell JR, Hartley SE, (2016) 'An insect ecosystem engineer alleviates drought stress in plants without increasing plant susceptibility to an above-ground herbivore', Functional Ecology, vol.30, no.6, pp 894-902

Power SA, Barnett KL, Ochoa-Hueso R, Facey SL, Gibson-Forty EVJ, Hartley SE, Nielsen UN, Tissue DT, Johnson SN, (2016) 'DRI-Grass: A new experimental platform for addressing grassland ecosystem responses to future precipitation scenarios in South-East Australia', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol.7, Article no.1373

Torode MD, Barnett KL, Facey SL, Nielsen UN, Power SA, Johnson SN, (2016) 'Altered precipitation impacts on above-and below-ground grassland invertebrates: Summer drought leads to outbreaks in spring', Frontiers in Plant Science, vol.7, Article no.1468

Facey SL, Botham MS, Heard MS, Pywell RF, Staley JT, (2014) 'Moth communities and agri-environment schemes: Examining the effects of hedgerow cutting regime on diversity, abundance, and parasitism', Insect Conservation and Diversity, vol.7, no.6, pp 543–552

Facey SL, Ellsworth DS, Staley JT, Wright D, Johnson SN, (2014) 'Upsetting the order: how climate and atmospheric change affects herbivore-enemy interactions', Current Opinion in Insect Science, vol.5, pp 66-74

Awards and Peer Reviewed Conference Proceedings

  • Barnett, K.B. & Facey, S.L. (2016) 20 years of rain manipulation experiments with grassland invertebrates – what do we know? Proceedings of the Ninth Australian Conference on Grassland Invertebrate Ecology
  • Facey, S.L. & Torode, M.D. (2016) An assessment of the effect of sward height on suction sampling efficiency for the capture of grassland invertebrates using a G-Vac device. Proceedings of the Ninth Australian Conference on Grassland Invertebrate Ecology
  • Staley, J.T., Amy, S., Facey, S.L. & Pywell, R.F. (2012) Hedgerow Conservation and Management: A review of 50 years of applied research in the UK. Hedgelink Hedgerow Futures Conference Proceedings, Staffordshire, UK.
  • Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition winner at the 2015 HIE 3MT
  • Best Student Poster prize at the 15th International Symposium on Insect-Plant Interactions, Neuchâtel, Switzerland 2014
  • Best Student Presentation at the 2014 HDR HIE showcase.