Steve Sinclair

Steve Sinclair has had a life-long interest in natural history, particularly field botany, and started vegetation surveys with Trust for Nature while still at High School.  He studied Science at Monash University, and completed a PhD under the supervision of Prof. J.D. Hamill in 2003, investigating the molecular mechanisms that enable plants to produce anti-herbivore chemicals in response to herbivory.

Steve started working at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research shortly after finishing his PhD in 2003.  In 2004 Steve led a project examining the relationship between a parasitic shrub (Exocarpos), environmental conditions and the decline of River Red Gums on the Murray River.  Between 2004 and 2008 Steve led a series of vegetation mapping projects for local governments and CMAs, producing maps to be used in statutory planning, covering the entire Mornington Peninsula and wetlands in south western Victoria.  Between 2008 and 2010 Steve represented ARI on a collaborative project led by Prof. P.I. Boon at Victoria University that investigated coastal saltmarsh communities across Victoria.  Steve led the mapping and condition assessment component.  Throughout his time working at ARI, Steve has undertaken field surveys for a wide range of other projects, covering most parts of Victoria, including the Mallee, the Alps, and the far north-west. This wide-ranging survey work has led to the contribution of over 150 quadrats to DSE’s vegetation database, and the discovery of several rare plants, including a new species for Victoria.

Since 2010, Steve has worked with DELWP’s policy groups providing technical advice on the establishment and management of new Conservation Areas under the Melbourne Strategic Assessment program, including the new Western Grassland Reserve.  This role includes collaboration with experts and academics from a range of institutions.

Key projects over last 5 years

  • Research programs associated with the Melbourne Strategic Assessment
  • Establishment of Western Grassland Reserves (secondment)
  • Biological Conservation Strategy for Melbourne’s Growth Corridors (secondment)
  • Victorian Saltmarsh Study (for contract to Victoria University)
  • Wetland mapping (for Glenelg Hopkins and Corangamite CMAs)
  • Vegetation mapping of the Mornington Peninsula (for Mornington Shire)

Key skills

  • Plant identification and ecological interpretation
  • Vegetation mapping
  • Environmental policy analysis
  • Basic GIS analysis
  • Vegetation management and management decision-making



Sinclair SJ, Griffioen P, Duncan DH, Millett-Rilly JE, White MD (2015). Quantifying ecosystem quality by modeling multi-attribute expert opinion. Ecological Applications 25(6) 1453-1477.

Bull M, Sinclair SJ (2014). Habitat: Melbourne’s indigenous vegetation communities. In: Bull M and Stolfo G (Eds) (2014) Flora of Melbourne, 4th edition, Hyland House, Melbourne. pp. 3-35

Sinclair SJ, Duncan DH, and Bruce M (2014).  Mortality of native Spear-grass after a summer fire in natural temperate grassland suggests ecosystem instability.  Ecological Management and Restoration 15: 91-94.

Boon PI, Allen T, Carr G, Frood D, Harty C, McMahon A, Mathews S, Rosengren N, Sinclair S, White M, Yugovic J (2014) Coastal wetlands of Victoria, south-eastern Australia: providing the inventory and condition information needed for their effective management and conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems (online). doi: 10.1002/aqc.2442.

Ryan SM, Cane KA, DeBoer KD, Sinclair SJ, Brimblecombe R, and Hamill JD (2012). Structure and expression of the quinolinate phosphoribosyltransferase (QPT) gene family in Nicotiana.  Plant Science 188-189 102-110.

Sinclair SJ, Atchison K (2012). The pre-colonial distribution of grasslands, woodlands and forests on the Werribee plains, Victoria. Cunninghamia 213-227.

Sinclair SJ, White MD, Medley J, Smith E, and Newell GR (2012). Mapping the past: Constructing a digital land-use history map for Victoria, Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 124 193-206.

Sinclair SJ, Sutter G, and Stajsic V (2012). Cyclosorus interruptus (Thelypteridaceae): new to Victoria. Muelleria 30 183-188.

Sinclair SJ, Boon PI (2012). Changes in the area of coastal marsh in Victoria since the mid-19th century. Cunninghamia 12 153-176.

Sinclair SJ (2011). Low nutrient soils, pollination and plant diversity. Journal of Vegetation Science 23, 585-589.

Sinclair SJ, White MD and Newell GR (2010). How Useful Are Species Distribution Models for Managing Biodiversity under Future Climates? Ecology and Society 15 8.

Boon PI, Allen T, Brook J, Carr G, Frood D, Hoye J, Harty C, Mathews S, McMahon A, Rosengren N, Sinclair SJ, White M, and Yugovic J. (2010). Mangroves and coastal saltmarsh of Victoria: Distribution, condition, threats and management. Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, Victoria University, Melbourne.

Moxham C, Sinclair SJ, Walker G, and Douglas I (2009). The vegetation of the Nepean Peninsula, Victoria – an historical perspective. Cunninghamia 11 27-47.

Sinclair SJ (2007). Native Grassland at Safety Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.  The Victorian Naturalist 124 132-150.

Sinclair SJ (2006). The influence of Dwarf Cherry (Exocarpos strictus) on the health of River Red Gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). Australian Forestry 69 137-141.

Sinclair SJ, Johnson R, Hamill JD (2004) Analysis of wound-induced gene expression in Nicotiana species with contrasting alkaloid profiles.  Functional Plant Biology 31 721-729.

Sinclair SJ, Murphy KJ, Birch CD, Hamill JD (2000) Molecular Characterisation of quinolinate phosphoribosyltransferase (QPT) in Nicotiana. Plant Molecular Biology 44 603-617.