Michael S. Watt



Dr Michael Watt is a forestry scientist who combines extensive knowledge of the industry with specialised modelling skills. He applies these modelling skills to improve understanding of variation in tree growth and wood quality, and to predict the likely effects of climate change on forest productivity.  Michael has received formal recognition from the forest industry for his contribution to weed management research.


  • PhD (Forestry), University of Canterbury, New Zealand -2003
  • MForSc (with distinction), University of Canterbury, New Zealand -1999
  • BForSc, University of Canterbury, New Zealand -1995

Research capabilities

  • Use of remote sensing technologies to characterise the forest resource
  • Effect of climate change on forest productivity
  • Models of tree growth and wood quality
  • Modelling the spatial distribution of pests
  • Tree physiology
  • Most aspects of weed science

Career highlights

  • Research Leader Scion 2008-present
  • Future Forest Research Award for innovation that enhances sector value, 2011
  • Awarded M. For. Sc with distinction, 1999
  • University Prize (Canterbury University), 1999

Selected papers

McGregor, K.F., Watt, M.S., Hulme, P.E., Duncan, R.P. (in press) How robust is the Australian Weed Risk Assessment protocol? A test using pine invasions in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Biological Invasions.

Kirschbaum, M.U.F., Watt, M.S., Tait, A., Ausseil, A.E. (in press) Future productivity of Pinus radiata in New Zealand under expected climatic changes. Global Change Biology.

Pawson, S.M., Brockerhoff, E.G., Watt, M.S., Didham, R.K. (2011) Maximising biodiversity in plantation forests: insights from long-term changes in clearfell-sensitive beetles in a Pinus radiata plantation. Biological Conservation 144, 2842-2850.

Watt, M.S., Kirschbaum, M.U.F. (2011) Moving beyond simple linear allometric relationships between tree height and diameter. Ecological Modelling 222, 3910-3916.

Watt, M.S., Stone, J.K., Hood, I. A., Manning, L.M. (2011) Using a climatic niche model to predict the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the distribution of Douglas-fir in New Zealand. Global Change Biology 17, 3608-3619.

Watt, M.S., Bloomberg, M., Finch-Savage, W.E. (2011) Development of a hydrothermal time model that accurately characterises how thermo-inhibition regulates seed germination. Plant Cell and Environment 34, 870-876.

Watt, M.S., Xu, V., Bloomberg, M. (2010) Development of a hydrothermal time seed germination model which uses the Weibull distribution to describe base water potential. Ecological Modelling 221, 1267-1272.

Watt, M.S., Kriticos, D.J., Potter, K.J.B., Manning, L.K., Tallent-Halsell, N., Bourdot, G.W. (2010) Using species niche models to inform strategic management of weeds in a changing climate. Biological Invasions 12, 3711–3725.

Bown, H.E., Watt, M.S., Mason, E.G., Clinton, P.W., Whitehead, D. (2010) Influence of nitrogen and phosphorus supply on mesophyll conductance limitations to photosynthesis in Pinus radiata. Tree Physiology 29, 1143-1151.

Bown, H.E., Watt, M.S., Whitehead, D., Mason, E.G., Clinton, P.W. (2009) The influence of N and P supply and genotype on carbon flux and partitioning in potted Pinus radiata plants. Tree Physiology 29, 857-868.