Cristina Ramalho

Hons(Bio) Lisbon, MSc(GIS) LisbonTech, PhD W.Aust.

I am a postdoctoral research fellow with the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub of the National Environmental Science Program. In 2018 I also became the Project Leader for Project 3 – Urban greening for liveability and biodiversity. My work is inter-disciplinary and focuses on how we can better plan, design and manage urban environments in order to make these more liveable and sustainable places. I am particularly interested in: 1) understanding how the design of urban green spaces can better incorporate interdisciplinary knowledge on the socio-ecological benefits of those spaces; 2) development of benefit-oriented approaches to guide urban forest planning; 3) conservation of remnant biodiversity; 4) understanding the contribution of biodiversity to sense of place, and 5) integration of Indigenous knowledge in land and water use planning and natural resource management.

Another long-term research interest has been spatial ecology. Before starting this postdoctoral position in 2016, I worked for three years at the Western Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife. The common denominator to the several projects I worked on was the use of spatial ecology tools to address specific questions. Projects included spatial conservation prioritization using Marxan, analysis of habitat fragmentation, use of Maxent species distribution models to understand potential impacts of climate change and to support phylogeographic inferences, development of topo-climatic spatial surfaces using ibutton technology, population viability analysis, and citizen science.

In my PhD (2012), I analysed the effects of urbanization-driven fragmentation on remnant Banksia woodland plant communities of the Perth Metropolitan Area. There started my discovery journey and love affair for the SW Australian flora and landscapes, and their unique natural history.

Prior to coming to Australia and after completion of a Biology degree at the University of Lisbon (2002), and a MSc in Geographic Information Systems at the Technical University of Lisbon (2004), I worked in a environmental consultancy company as a botanist and GIS ecologist (2004-2007), and as a research fellow in a project using geostatistical modelling to map the atmospheric deposition of heavy metals using lichens and mosses as bio-monitors (2003-2004).

Teaching overview

Since 2016, I am an invited lecturer to the unit LACH 4423 Ecological Systems for MSc students of Landscape Architecture. The lectures I deliver focus on concepts of ecological theory that are relevant for urban planning and design; aspects related with the biogeography, natural and human history of the South-western Australia that are relevant to urban planning and design in the region; ecological design and George’s Seddon legacy in this field. Over the years, I have also lectured and taught in the scope of other units, including Plants and Landscape Systems (LACH3030), Ecology (ENVT2250), and Plant Diversity and Evolution (PLNT 2204).

I welcome PhD and MSc students that would like to develop a project in topics related with my research and that are able to apply and obtain their own scholarship. I welcome students from different areas, including ecology, landscape architecture, urban design, and social sciences.


The projects I am currently leading are:

  • Development of an interdisciplinary attribute-function framework to support the design of multi-functional urban green spaces;
  • Biodiversity conservation and human wellbeing considerations in urban forest management
  • Integration of Indigenous perspectives in land and water use planning, natural resource management, and biodiversity conservation in Perth;
  • Biodiversity conservation and conservation planning in the South-western Australia global biodiversity hotspot – a range of work going on under this topic, including the analysis of plant community patterns in urban remnant Banksia;
  • Broadening the Nature Conservation discourse.

Other projects I am actively involved include:

  • Opportunities and challenges for urban biodiversity conservation – project led by Dr Caragh Threlfall (UniMel), in which we are interviewing practitioners across different Australian cities to understand the breadth of their on-ground actions for biodiversity conservation;
  • Novel resources in threatened species conservation – project led by Dr Leonie Valentine and that develops a framework exploring the risks and opportunities in novel resources
  • Horizon scanning of future urban forests – project led by Dr Dave Kendal (UniTas) that aims to inform urban forest management in the context of rapid environmental & social change;
  • Social-ecological benefits of native verges – project led by Dr Natasha Pauli (UWA);
  • Bringing nature back in the city – project led by Dr Luis Mata (RMIT) that develops a conceptual tool supporting the reintroduction of species back in the urban landscape;
  • A framework for improving ecological connectivity in cities – project led by Holly Kirk (RMIT) and that uses as a case study the city of Melbourne.


National Environmental Science Program – Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub

Cristina’s Links:

Research Gate
Google Scholar Profile
UWA Website

Top Publications

Ramalho C.E., Ottewell K., Chambers B., Yates C., Wilson B., Bencini, R., Barrett G. (2018) Demographic and Genetic Viability of a Medium-Sized Ground-Dwelling Mammal in a Fire Prone, Rapidly Urbanizing Landscape PlosOne 13 (2), e0191190

Ramalho C.E., Laliberté E., Poot P., Hobbs R. (2018) Effects of fragmentation on the plant functional composition and diversity of remnant woodlands in a young and rapidly expanding city. Journal of Vegetation Science 29 (2): 285-296

Kirk, H., Threlfall, C., Soanes, K., Ramalho, C.E., Parris, K., Amati, M., Bekessy, S.A & Mata, L (2018). Linking Nature in the City: A framework for improving ecological connectivity across the City of Melbourne. Report prepared for the City of Melbourne Urban Sustainability Branch.

Ramalho C.E., Byrne M., Yates C. (2017) A Climate-Oriented Approach to Support Decision-Making for Seed Provenance in Ecological Restoration. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 5:95

Dalmaris E., Ramalho C.E., Poot P., Veneklaas E.J., Byrne M. (2015) A climate change context for the decline of a foundation tree species in south-western Australia – insights from phylogeography and species distribution modelling. Annals of Botany, 116 (6): 941-952

Bolleter J., Ramalho C.E. (2014) The potential of ecologically enhanced urban parks to encourage and catalyse densification in greyfield suburbs. Journal of Landscape Architecture 9 (3): 54-65

Ramalho, C.E., Laliberté, E., Poot, P. & Hobbs, R.J. (2014) Complex effects of fragmentation on remnant woodland plant communities of a rapidly urbanizing biodiversity hotspot Ecology 95 (9): 2466-2478

Perring M., Manning P., Hobbs R.J., Lugo A.L., Ramalho C.E., Standish R. (2013) Novel urban ecosystems and ecosystem services. In: Novel Ecosystems: intervening in the new ecological world order. R.J. Hobbs, E.S. Higgs and C.M. Hall (eds). Wiley Press.

Ramalho, CE., Barrett, G., Glossop, B., Mitchell, D., Wilson, B & Clarke, K (2013)  Spatial conservation prioritization in the Swan Region – a pilot study using Marxan. Department of Parks and Wildlife, Swan Region, Perth, Australia.

Ramalho, C.E & Hobbs, R.J. (2012) Time for a change: dynamic urban ecology Trends in Ecology & Evolution 27 (3): 179-188