Doctor Sebastian Pfautsch

Doctor Sebastian Pfautsch

Research Theme Fellow - Environmental Sustainability,
Office of DVC & VP, Research and Innovation


Dr Sebastian Pfautsch is a Senior Research Fellow at Western Sydney University. In 2007, Sebastian received his PhD (summa cum laude) in forest ecosystem science from the University of Freiburg, Germany. In his research he investigates the effects of global change and extreme climate evens on plant and ecosystem functioning. In his role as Research Theme Fellow (Environment and Sustainability) he develops applied science projects that allow government and industry to optimize strategies and practices to mitigate urban heat. He uses his detailed understanding of trees, microclimate, ecohydrology and natural ressources management to deliver evidence-based concepts for cooling in parks, playgrounds, schools, carparks and many more components of the urban fabric. Sebastian uses his research to inform government agencies, politicians, industry and the public how to ‘future-proof’ our cities. 

This information has been contributed by Doctor Pfautsch.


  • Phd Albert-Ludwigs-Universitat Freiburg Germany
  • Msc

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Society of Plant Scientists (2014)
  • Institute of Foresters of Australia (2008)
  • International Association of Wood Anatomists (2011)


  • Scientific Mobility Award, Embassy of France in Australia and Australian Academy of Science 2013-06-01
  • Chancellors Committee Award, University of Sydney 2013-04-18
  • Fellowship, Association of Pacific Rim Universities 2012-02-08
  • Maxwell Jacobs Award, Institute of Foresters of Australia 2008-04-03

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Office of DVC & VP, Research and Innovation


Phone: (02) 9685 9081
Location: EI.G.13

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Chapters in Books

  • Pfautsch, S., Bell, T. and Gessler, A. (2015), 'Uptake, transport and redistribution of amino nitrogen in woody plants', Amino Acids in Higher Plants, CABI 9781780642635.

Journal Articles

  • Aspinwall, M., Pfautsch, S., Tjoelker, M., Varhammar, A., Possell, M., Drake, J., Reich, P., Tissue, D., Atkin, O., Rymer, P., Dennison, S. and Van Sluyter, S. (2019), 'Range size and growth temperature influence Eucalyptus species responses to an experimental heatwave', Global Change Biology, vol 25, no 5 , pp 1665 - 1684.
  • Blackman, C., Creek, D., Maier, C., Aspinwall, M., Drake, J., Pfautsch, S., O?Grady, A., Delzon, S., Medlyn, B., Tissue, D. and Choat, B. (2019), '[In Press] Drought response strategies and hydraulic traits contribute to mechanistic understanding of plant dry-down to hydraulic failure', Tree Physiology, .
  • Drake, J., Tjoelker, M., Aspinwall, M., Reich, P., Pfautsch, S. and Barton, C. (2019), 'The partitioning of gross primary production for young Eucalyptus tereticornis trees under experimental warming and altered water availability', New Phytologist, vol 222, no 3 , pp 1298 - 1312.
  • Steidinger, B., Crowther, T., Liang, J., Van Nuland, M., Werner, G., Reich, P., Nabuurs, G., de-Miguel, S., Zhou, M., Picard, N., Herault, B., Zhao, X., Zhang, C., Routh, D., Peay, K., Abegg, M., Adou Yao, C., Alberti, G., Pfautsch, S. and et al, .. (2019), 'Climatic controls of decomposition drive the global biogeography of forest-tree symbioses', Nature, vol 569, no 7756 , pp 404 - 408.
  • Du, B., Pang, J., Hu, B., Allen, D., Bell, T., Pfautsch, S., Netzer, F., Dannenmann, M., Zhang, S. and Rennenberg, H. (2019), 'N2-fixing black locust intercropping improves ecosystem nutrition at the vulnerable semi-arid Loess Plateau region, China', Science of the Total Environment, vol 688 , pp 333 - 345.
  • Drake, J., Tjoelker, M., Varhammar, A., Medlyn, B., Reich, P., Leigh, A., Pfautsch, S., Blackman, C., Lopez Rodriguez, R., Aspinwall, M., Crous, K., Duursma, R., Kumarathunge, D., De Kauwe, M., Jiang, M., Nicotra, A., Tissue, D., Choat, B., Atkin, O. and Barton, C. (2018), 'Trees tolerate an extreme heatwave via sustained transpirational cooling and increased leaf thermal tolerance', Global Change Biology, vol 24, no 6 , pp 2390 - 2402.
  • Pfautsch, S., Aspinwall, M., Drake, J., Chacon-Doria, L., Langelaan, R., Tissue, D., Tjoelker, M. and Lens, F. (2018), 'Traits and trade-offs in whole-tree hydraulic architecture along the vertical axis of Eucalyptus grandis', Annals of Botany, vol 121, no 1 , pp 129 - 141.
  • Aspinwall, M., Blackman, C., Resco de Dios, V., Busch, F., Rymer, P., Loik, M., Drake, J., Pfautsch, S., Smith, R., Tjoelker, M. and Tissue, D. (2018), 'Photosynthesis and carbon allocation are both important predictors of genotype productivity responses to elevated CO2 in Eucalyptus camaldulensis', Tree Physiology, vol 38, no 9 , pp 1286 - 1301.
  • Mencuccini, M., Salmon, Y., Mitchell, P., Holtta, T., Choat, B., Meir, P., O'Grady, A., Tissue, D., Zweifel, R., Sevanto, S. and Pfautsch, S. (2017), 'An empirical method that separates irreversible stem radial growth from bark water content changes in trees : theory and case studies', Plant, Cell and Environment, vol 40, no 2 , pp 290 - 303.
  • Larter, M., Pfautsch, S., Domec, J., Trueba, S., Nagalingum, N. and Delzon, S. (2017), 'Aridity drove the evolution of extreme embolism resistance and the radiation of conifer genus Callitris', New Phytologist, vol 215, no 1 , pp 97 - 112.
  • Drake, J., Varhammar, A., Kumarathunge, D., Medlyn, B., Pfautsch, S., Reich, P., Tissue, D., Ghannoum, O. and Tjoelker, M. (2017), 'A common thermal niche among geographically diverse populations of the widely distributed tree species Eucalyptus tereticornis : no evidence for adaptation to climate of origin', Global Change Biology, vol 23, no 12 , pp 5069 - 5082.
  • Drake, J., Power, S., Duursma, R., Medlyn, B., Aspinwall, M., Choat, B., Creek, D., Eamus, D., Maier, C., Pfautsch, S., Smith, R., Tjoelker, M. and Tissue, D. (2017), 'Stomatal and non-stomatal limitations of photosynthesis for four tree species under drought : a comparison of model formulations', Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, vol 247 , pp 454 - 466.
  • Pfautsch, S. and Gray, T. (2017), 'Low factual understanding and high anxiety about climate warming impedes university students to become sustainability stewards : an Australian case study', International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, vol 18, no 7 , pp 1157 - 1175.
  • Pfautsch, S., Harbusch, M., Wesolowski, A., Smith, R., Macfarlane, C., Tjoelker, M., Reich, P. and Adams, M. (2016), 'Climate determines vascular traits in the ecologically diverse genus Eucalyptus', Ecology Letters, vol 19, no 3 , pp 240 - 248.
  • Pfautsch, S., Macfarlane, C., Harbusch, M., Wesolowski, A., Smith, R., Boer, M., Tjoelker, M., Reich, P. and Adams, M. (2016), 'Vessel diameter and related hydraulic traits of 31 Eucalyptus species arrayed along a gradient of water availability', Ecology, vol 97, no 6 , pp 1626 - 1626.
  • Blackman, C., Pfautsch, S., Choat, B., Delzon, S., Gleason, S. and Duursma, R. (2016), 'Toward an index of desiccation time to tree mortality under drought', Plant, Cell and Environment, vol 39, no 10 , pp 2342 - 2345.
  • Liang, J., Crowther, T., Picard, N., Wiser, S., Zhou, M., Alberti, G., Schulze, E., McGuire, A., Bozzato, F., Pretzsch, H., Miguel, S., Paquette, A., Herault, B., Scherer-Lorenzen, M., Barrett, C., Glick, H., Hengeveld, G., Nabuurs, G., Pfautsch, S. and Reich, P. (2016), 'Positive biodiversity-productivity relationship predominant in global forests', Science, vol 354, no 6309 , pp 89571 - 895712.
  • Delzon, S., Cochard, H. and Pfautsch, S. (2016), 'Indexing the indices : scientific publishing needs to undergo a revolution', Journal of Plant Hydraulics, vol 3 .
  • Pfautsch, S. (2016), 'Hydraulic anatomy and function of trees : basics and critical developments', Current Forestry Reports, vol 2, no 4 , pp 236 - 248.
  • Pfautsch, S. and Macfarlane, C. (2016), 'Comment on Wang et al. 'Quantifying sapwood width for three Australian native species using electrical resistivity tomography'', Ecohydrology, vol 9, no 5 , pp 894 - 895.
  • Drake, J., Aspinwall, M., Pfautsch, S., Rymer, P., Reich, P., Smith, R., Crous, K., Tissue, D., Ghannoum, O. and Tjoelker, M. (2015), 'The capacity to cope with climate warming declines from temperate to tropical latitudes in two widely distributed Eucalyptus species', Global Change Biology, vol 21, no 1 , pp 459 - 472.
  • Pfautsch, S., Renard, J., Tjoelker, M. and Salih, A. (2015), 'Phloem as capacitor : radial transfer of water into xylem of tree stems occurs via symplastic transport in ray parenchyma', Plant Physiology, vol 167, no 3 , pp 963 - 971.
  • Gharun, M., Turnbull, T., Pfautsch, S. and Adams, M. (2015), 'Stomatal structure and physiology do not explain differences in water use among montane eucalypts', Oecologia, vol 177, no 4 , pp 1171 - 1181.
  • Larter, M., Brodribb, T., Pfautsch, S., Burlett, R., Cochard, H. and Delzon, S. (2015), 'Extreme aridity pushes trees to their physical limits', Plant Physiology, vol 168, no 3 , pp 804 - 807.
  • Pfautsch, S., Holtta, T. and Mencuccini, M. (2015), 'Hydraulic functioning of tree stems : fusing ray anatomy, radial transfer and capacitance', Tree Physiology, vol 35, no 7 , pp 706 - 722.
  • Wesolowski, A., Adams, M. and Pfautsch, S. (2014), 'Insulation capacity of three bark types of temperate Eucalyptus species', Forest Ecology and Management, vol 313 , pp 224 - 232.
  • Pfautsch, S., Peri, P., Macfarlane, C., Van Ogtrop, F. and Adams, M. (2014), 'Relating water use to morphology and environment of Nothofagus from the world's most southern forests', Trees: Structure and Function, vol 28, no 1 , pp 125 - 136.
  • Pfautsch, S., Dodson, W., Madden, S. and Adams, M. (2014), 'Assessing the impact of large-scale water table modifications on riparian trees : a case study from Australia', Ecohydrology, .
  • Pfautsch, S. and Adams, M. (2013), 'Water flux of Eucalyptus regnans : defying summer drought and a record heatwave in 2009', Oecologia, vol 172, no 2 , pp 317 - 326.
  • Pfautsch, S., Aspinwall, M., Drake, J., Choat, B., Tissue, D., Burykin, T. and Tjoelker, M. (2013), 'Putting the puzzle together : investigating hydraulic functioning and water transport at high spatial resolution in tall trees', Acta Horticulturae, vol 991 , pp 245 - 252.
  • Resco de Dios, V., Diaz-Sierra, R., Goulden, M., Barton, C., Boer, M., Gessler, A., Ferrio, J., Pfautsch, S. and Tissue, D. (2013), 'Woody clockworks : circadian regulation of night-time water use in Eucalyptus globulus', New Phytologist, vol 200, no 3 , pp 743 - 752.
  • Buckley, T., Turnbull, T., Pfautsch, S., Gharun, M. and Adams, M. (2012), 'Differences in water use between mature and post-fire regrowth stands of subalpine Eucalyptus delegatensis R. Baker', Forest Ecology and Management, vol 270 , pp 1 - 10.
  • Merchant, A., Buckley, T., Pfautsch, S., Turnbull, T., Samsa, G. and Adams, M. (2012), 'Site-specific responses to short-term environmental variation are reflected in leaf and phloem-sap carbon isotopic abundance of field grown Eucalyptus globulus', Physiologia Plantarum, vol 146, no 4 , pp 448 - 459.
  • Pfautsch, S., Macfarlane, C., Ebdon, N. and Meder, R. (2012), 'Assessing sapwood depth and wood properties in Eucalyptus and Corymbia spp. using visual methods and near infrared spectroscopy (NIR)', Trees: Structure and Function, vol 26, no 3 , pp 963 - 974.
  • Pfautsch, S., Keitel, C., Turnbull, T., Braimbridge, M., Wright, T., Simpson, R., O'Brien, J. and Adams, M. (2011), 'Diurnal patterns of water use in Eucalyptus victrix indicate pronounced desiccation-rehydration cycles despite unlimited water supply', Tree Physiology, vol 31, no 10 , pp 1041 - 1051.
  • Buckley, T., Turnbull, T., Pfautsch, S. and Adams, M. (2011), 'Nocturnal water loss in mature subalpine Eucalyptus delegatensis tall open forests and adjacent E. pauciflora woodlands', Ecology and Evolution, vol 1, no 3 , pp 435 - 450.
  • Pfautsch, S., Gessler, A., Rennenberg, H., Weston, C. and Adams, M. (2010), 'Continental and local climatic influences on hydrology of eucalypt-Nothofagus ecosystems revealed by d2H, d13C, and d18O of ecosystem samples', Water Resources Research, vol 46, no 3 .
  • Petit, G., Pfautsch, S., Anfodillo, T. and Adams, M. (2010), 'The challenge of tree height in Eucalyptus regnans : when xylem tapering overcomes hydraulic resistance', New Phytologist, vol 187, no 4 , pp 1146 - 1153.
  • Adams, M., Simon, J. and Pfautsch, S. (2010), 'Woody legumes : a (re)view from the South', Tree Physiology, vol 30, no 9 , pp 1072 - 1082.
  • Pfautsch, S., Bleby, T., Rennenberg, H. and Adams, M. (2010), 'Sap flow measurements reveal influence of temperature and stand structure on water use of Eucalyptus regnans forests', Forest Ecology and Management, vol 259, no 6 , pp 1190 - 1199.
  • Pfautsch, S., Rennenberg, H., Bell, T. and Adams, M. (2009), 'Nitrogen uptake by Eucalyptus regnans and Acacia spp. - preferences, resource overlap and energetic costs', Tree Physiology, vol 29, no 3 , pp 389 - 399.
  • Pfautsch, S., Gessler, A., Adams, M. and Rennenberg, H. (2009), 'Using amino-nitrogen pools and fluxes to identify contributions of understory Acacia spp. to overstory Eucalyptus regnans and stand nitrogen uptake in temperate Australia', New Phytologist, vol 183, no 4 , pp 1097 - 1113.

Conference Papers

  • Tjoelker, M., Campany, C., Duursma, R., Pfautsch, S., Aspinwall, M. and Thompson, D. (2017), 'Insights into standards for nursery-grown tree stock', National Street Tree Symposium, The University of Adelaide, S.A..

Other Publications

  • 2019, 'Benchmarking Heat in Parramatta, Sydney's Central River City', Research Report
  • 2018, 'Green Track for Parramatta Light Rail: A Review', Research Report
  • 2018, 'Cool Schools', Research Report
  • 2016, 'The Montreal Process and Its Effects on Sustainable Use of Forest in New South Wales', Research Report
  • 2016, 'Identifying Gaps and Opportunities to Align Multifaceted Use of Forests with Scientific and Ecological Reality', Research Report

Previous Projects

Title: Outdoor Ambient Temperature Hierarchies of Cumberland
  • Cumberland Council
Western Researchers: Sebastian Pfautsch
Years: 2018-11-05 - 2019-06-21
ID: P00025368
Title: Outdoor Ambient Temperature Hierarchies of Campbelltown
  • Campbelltown City Council
Western Researchers: Sebastian Pfautsch
Years: 2018-11-12 - 2019-06-28
ID: P00025424
Title: HIA Evaluation of Nursery Tree Stock Balance Parameters
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (non ACRG)
Western Researchers: Remko Duursma, David Thompson, Mike Aspinwall, Sebastian Pfautsch and Mark Tjoelker
Years: 2015-06-09 - 2017-08-14
ID: P00024376
Title: ATEN Chinese Delegation Visit 2017
  • Federated Association for Internat Co-Operation Australia
Western Researchers:
Years: 2017-01-17 - 2017-03-09
ID: P00024453
Title: Outdoor Ambient Temperature Hierarchies of Parramatta
  • City of Parramatta Council
Western Researchers: Sebastian Pfautsch
Years: 2018-09-01 - 2019-06-21
ID: P00025233
Title: Ecological and forestry expertise
  • Department Infrastructure Planning and Natural Resources NSW
Western Researchers:
Years: 2016-08-02 - 2017-03-09
ID: P00024362
Title: Evaluation of Nursery Tree Stock Balance for the Environment
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (non ACRG)
Western Researchers: Mark Tjoelker, Sebastian Pfautsch and David Thompson
Years: 2017-07-11 - 2019-03-31
ID: P00024177


Current Supervision

Thesis Title: Xylem Pit Membrane Physiology in Callitris Species
Field of Research:
Thesis Title: Biophysical Indicators and Social Perception of Trees for Urban Cooling
Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: The effects of drought, heat and elevated atmospheric CO2 on physiology and growth of Eucalyptus ? Does climate-of-origin matter?
Field of Research: Other Natural And Physical Sciences

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