Deborah Apgaua, Ph.D.


Lecturer of Tropical Biome Ecology


Ph.D. in Forest Sciences
Federal University of Lavras (Brazil) / James Cook University (Australia)

M.S. in Forest Sciences
Federal University of Lavras (Brazil)


SFS 3021 Environmental Sustainability and Socio-economic Values

SFS 3691 Tropical Biome Ecology & Climate Change

SFS 3262 Rainforests of Australia

SFS 4910 Directed Research

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Staff Profile

I am a plant ecologist and biologist and my professional goals are centered around understanding the effects of climate change on tropical wet and dry forests and agricultural systems. My recent postdoc fellowships (2017-2019) were awarded by the Schlumberger Foundation, which focuses on helping women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields.

Originally from Brazil, my passion lies in studying plants, forest ecosystems and agricultural landscapes, and in that capacity, I have conducted multidisciplinary research involving a combination of field ecology experiments and plant physiology on both dry forests and rainforest ecosystems in Brazil and Australia. During my Ph.D. and recent postdocs for example, I worked on a large-scale rainfall exclusion study where I studied mature trees with a canopy crane and examined how their traits related to water conduction change when affected by drought. I have also worked in climate-controlled glasshouses looking at the growth and physiological changes in plants exposed to elevated heat and atmospheric CO2.

More recently, my interests in regenerative agriculture has led me to collaborations with local farmers on the Atherton Tablelands to examine how agriculture can move towards greater environmental sustainability and food security.

Academics & Research

Areas of Expertise

  • Plant ecology
  • Climate change biology
  • Plant functional traits
  • Regenerative agriculture
  • Fire ecology

Professional Affiliations

  • Adjunct researcher, James Cook University (2019-present)
  • Ad hoc reviewer for Australian Journal of Botany, Biotropica, Bosque, Cerne, Journal of Insect Conservation, Journal of Vegetation Science, Ecology and Evolution, IAWA Journal, Trees - Structure and Function

Select Publications

Kattge J, (...), APGAUA DMG, et al. (2020) TRY plant trait database – Enhanced coverage and open access. Global Change Biology 26:119-188.
APGAUA DMG, Tng DYP, Forbes S J, Ishida YF, Vogado NO, Cernusak LA, Laurance, SGW. (2019) Elevated temperature and CO2 cause differential growth stimulation and drought survival responses in Eucalyptus species from contrasting habitats. Tree Physiology 39: 1806-1820.
Castro MB, Barbosa ACMC, Pompeu PV, Eisenlohr PV, Pereira, GDA, APGAUA DMG, Pires-Oliveira JC, Barbosa JPRAD, Fontes MAL, Santos RM, Tng DYP. (2019) Will the emblematic southern conifer Araucaria angustifolia survive to climate change in Brazil?. Biodiversity and Conservation, doi: 10.1007/s10531-019-01900-x
Carvalho FA, Tng DYP, APGAUA DMG, Morel JD, Pereira DGS, Santos PF, Santos RM. (2019) Flooding regime drives tree community structure in Neotropical dry forests. Journal of Vegetation Science 30: 1195-1205.
Tng DYP, APGAUA DMG, Laurance SGW, Bowman DMJS. (2019) Australia’s seasonally dry tropical forests need attention. Austral Ecology 44: 552-554.
Tng DYP, APGAUA DMG, Ishida YF, Mencuccini M, Lloyd J, Laurance W, Laurence S. (2018) Rainforest trees respond to drought by modifying their hydraulic architecture. Ecology and Evolution 8: 12479-12491.
Pires GG, Santos RM, Menino GCO, APGAUA DMG, Pereira DGS, Souza CR, Fontes, MAL. (2018) Influence of environmental variations on the formation of microhabitats within a fragment of seasonally dry tropical forest - sdtf, brazil. Revista Arvore 24: e420211.
Reis GH, Terra MCNS, Tng DYP, APGAUA DMG, Coelho PA, Santos RM, Nunes YRF. (2017) Temporal vegetation changes in a seasonally dry tropical forest enclave in an ecotonal region between savanna and semiarid zones of Brazil. Australian Journal of Botany 65: 85-93.
Tng DYP, APGAUA DMG, Lisboa MM, El-Hani CN. (2021) Gender differences in plant use knowledge within a traditional fishing community in northeastern Brazil. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 21: 1-36.
Tng DYP, APGAUA DMG, et al. (2021) Ethnobotany Research and Applications 21: 1-36.
Tng, DY, APGAUA DMG, et al. (2022). Forest Ecology and Management, 511, 120128.
APGAUA DMG, Tng DY, Laurance SG. (2022). Flora doi: 10.1016/j.flora.2022.152072
Potts E, Tng D, APGAUA DMG, et al. (2022). Forest Ecology and Management 522, doi: 10.1016/j.foreco.2022.120485


APGAUA DMG, Tng DYP, Forbes SJ, Ishida YF, Vogado NO, Cernusak LA, Laurance SGW. (2018) Impact of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration on seedling growth and survival of species along a tropical wet forest-savanna gradient. In 55th Annual Meeting of Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 2018, Kuching, Malaysia.
Tng, DYP, APGAUA DMG, Ishida YF, Mencuccini M, Lloyd J, Laurance WF, Laurance, SGW. (2018) Responses of lowland tropical rainforest trees to drought. In: 55th Annual Meeting of Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 2018, Kuching, Malaysia.
APGAUA DMG, Tng DYP, Ishida FYF, Laurance SGW. (2017) Experimental Drought Changes Wood Anatomy of Tropical Trees . In: the 9th Pacific and Regional Wood Anatomy conference and Annual meeting of International Academy of Wood Science, 2017. Bali, Indonesia.
APGAUA DMG, Tng DYP, Ishida YF, Laurance SGW. (2017) Wood Anatomical adaptations to experimental drought. TESS- Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Science- Annual Science Meeting, Cairns, Australia.
APGAUA DMG, Santos RM, Fontes MAL, Oliveira-Filho AT, Tng DYP, Bowman DMJS. (2014) Soil changes after fire across an Atlantic rainforest - boundary vegetation transition in Lavras, Brazil. In: Soil Change Matters, 2014, Bendigo, Australia.
APGAUA DMG, Tng, DYP, Santos RM. (2014) Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests: the forgotten biome - structure, diversity and future directions In: 51st Annual Meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 2014, Cairns, Australia