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David Whitehead

Principal Researcher, Climate-Smart Agriculture
Land Use & Ecosystems
David Whitehead
+64 3 321 9862
Contact David

Research interests

Research leadership experience in measuring and modelling greenhouse gas emissions from terrestrial ecosystems in relation to environmental drivers and climate change, leading to new opportunities to benefit New Zealand and internationally by enhancing soil carbon stocks to mitigate and adapt to climate change


PhD Environmental Physiology

BA (Hons) Biology


Rumpel C, Amiraslani F, Chenu C, Cardenas MG, Kaonga M, Koutika LS, Ladha J, Madari B, Shirato Y, Smith P, Soudi B, Soussana JF, Whitehead D, Wollenberg E 2020. Response to "The "4p1000" initiative: A new name should be adopted" by Baveye and White (2019). Ambio 49(1): 363-364. WOS:000500070800031

Rumpel C, Amiraslani F, Chenu C, Cardenas MG, Kaonga M, Koutika LS, Ladha J, Madari B, Shirato Y, Smith P, Soudi B, Soussana JF, Whitehead D, Wollenberg E 2020. The 4p1000 initiative: Opportunities, limitations and challenges for implementing soil organic carbon sequestration as a sustainable development strategy. Ambio 49(1): 350-360. WOS:000500070800029

Kirschbaum MUF, Giltrap DL, McNally SR, Liang LL, Hedley CB, Moinet GYK, Blaschek M, Beare MH, Theng BKG, Hunt JE, Whitehead D 2020. Estimating the mineral surface area of soils by measured water adsorption. Adjusting for the confounding effect of water adsorption by soil organic carbon. European Journal of Soil Science 71(3): 382-391. WOS:000491867500001

Wakelin S, Maclean P, Cave V, Zhou JZ, Grelet GA, Whitehead D 2019. Characterising the soil ecosystem phenotype associated with relatively low nitrate-N concentrations. Applied Soil Ecology 142: 189-198. WOS:000470824300021

Laubach J, Hunt JE, Graham SL, Buxton RP, Rogers GND, Mudge PL, Carrick S, Whitehead D 2019. Irrigation increases forage production of newly established lucerne but enhances net ecosystem carbon losses. Science of the Total Environment 689: 921-936. WOS:000482379400089

Whitehead D, Schipper LA, Pronger J, Moinet GYK, Mudge PL, Pereira RC, Kirschbaum MUF, McNally SR, Beare MH, Camps-Arbestain M 2018. Management practices to reduce losses or increase soil carbon stocks in temperate grazed grasslands: New Zealand as a case study. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 265: 432-443. WOS:000443664900044

Rumpel C, Amiraslani F, Koutika LS, Smith P, Whitehead D, Wollenberg E 2018. Put more carbon in soils to meet Paris climate pledges. Nature 564(7734): 32-34. WOS:000452269400025

Moinet GYK, Midwood AJ, Hunt JE, Whitehead D, Hannam KD, Jenkins M, Brewer MJ, Adams MA, Millard P 2018. Estimates of rhizosphere priming effects are affected by soil disturbance. Geoderma 313: 1-6. WOS:000424179800001

Moinet GYK, Cieraad E, Turnbull MH, Whitehead D 2017. Effects of irrigation and addition of nitrogen fertiliser on net ecosystem carbon balance for a grassland. Science of The Total Environment 579: 1715–1725.

Moinet GYK, Cieraad E, Hunt JE, Turnbull MH, Whitehead D 2016. Phytomass index improves estimates of net ecosystem carbon dioxide exchange in intensively grazed grassland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 233: 298–307.

Moinet GYK, Cieraad E, Hunt JE, Fraser A, Turnbull MH, Whitehead D 2016. Soil heterotrophic respiration is insensitive to changes in soil water content but related to microbial access to organic matter. Geoderma 274: 68–78.

Moinet GYK, Cieraad E, Rogers GND, Hunt JE, Millard P, Turnbull MH, Whitehead D 2016. Addition of nitrogen fertiliser increases net ecosystem carbon dioxide uptake and the loss of soil organic carbon in grassland growing in mesocosms. Geoderma 266: 75–83.

Whitehead D, Edwards GR 2015. Assessment of the application of gibberellins to increase productivity and reduce nitrous oxide emissions in grazed grassland. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 207: 40–50.

Waghorn MJ, Whitehead D, Watt MS, Mason EG, Harrington JJ 2015. Growth, biomass, leaf area and water-use efficiency of juvenile Pinus radiata in response to water deficits. New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science 45(3).

Zakharova A, Midwood AJ, Hunt JE, Graham SL, Artz RRE, Turnbull MH, Whitehead D, Millard P 2014. Loss of labile carbon following soil disturbance determined by measurement of respired ∂13CO2. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 68: 125–132.

Graham SL, Hunt JE, Millard P, McSeveny T, Tylianakis JM, Whitehead D 2014. Effects of soil warming and nitrogen addition on soil respiration in a New Zealand tussock grassland. PLOS ONE 9(3): e91204.

Joseph T, Whitehead D, Turnbull MH 2014. Soil water availability influences the temperature response of photosynthesis and respiration in a grass and a woody shrub. Functional Plant Biology 41(5): 468–481.

Koch A, McBratney A, Adams M, Field D, Hill R, Crawford J, Minasny B, Lal R, Abbott L, O'Donnell A, Angers D, Baldock J, Barbier E, Binkley D, Parton W, Wall DH, Bird M, Bouma J, Chenu C, Flora CB, Goulding K, Grunwald S, Hempel J, Jastrow J, Lehmann J, Lorenz K, Morgan CL, Rice CW, Whitehead D, Young I, Zimmermann M 2013. Soil security: solving the global soil crisis. Global Policy 4(4): 434–441.

Stockmann U, Adams MA, Crawford JW, Field DJ, Henakaarchchi N, Jenkins M, Minasny B, McBratney AB, Courcelles VR, Singh K, Wheeler I, Abbott L, Angers DA, Baldock JA, Bird M, Brookes PC, Chenu C, Jastrow JD, Lal R, Lehmann J, O’Donnell AG, Parton WJ, Whitehead D, Zimmermann M 2013. The knowns, known unknowns and unknowns of sequestration of soil organic carbon. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 164: 80-99.

Graham SL, Millard P, Hunt JE, Rogers GND, Whitehead D 2012. Roots affect the response of heterotrophic soil respiration to temperature in tussock grass microcosms. Annals of Botany 110(2): 253-258.

Kirschbaum MUF, Saggar S, Tate KR, Giltrap DL, Ausseil AGE, Greenhalgh S, Whitehead D 2012. Comprehensive evaluation of the climate-change implications of shifting land use between forest and grassland: New Zealand as a case study. Agriculture, ecosystems & environment 150: 123-138.

Kirschbaum MUF, Whitehead D, Dean SM, Beets PN, Shepherd JD, Ausseil AGE 2011. Implications of albedo changes following afforestation on the benefits of forests as carbon sinks. Biogeosciences 8(12): 3687-3696.

McDowell NG, Bond BJ, Dickman LT, Ryan MG, Whitehead D 2011. Relationships Between Tree Height and Carbon Isotope Discrimination. In: Meinzer FCC, Lachenbruch B, Dawson TEE ed. Size- and age-related changes in tree structure and function. Tree Physiology. Springer Netherlands. Pp. 255-286

Whitehead D 2011. Modelling the impacts of pests on forest productivity: a pathway through complexities and conundrums. Tree physiology 31(7): 683-685. WOS:000294125300001

Whitehead D, Barbour MM, Griffin KL, Turnbull MH, Tissue DT 2011. Effects of leaf age and tree size on stomatal and mesophyll limitations to photosynthesis in mountain beech (Nothofagus solandrii var. cliffortiodes). Tree physiology 31(9): 985-96. MEDLINE:21515907

Whitehead D 2011. Forests as carbon sinks - benefits and consequences. Tree physiology 31(9): 893-902. MEDLINE:21873611

Millard P, Hunt J, Rogers G, Whitehead D 2010. Quantifying the loss of soil C from soil organic matter, as a consequence of climate or land-use change. Soil Horizons 19: 13.

Price S, Whitehead D, Sherlock R, McSeveny T, Rogers G 2010. Net exchange of greenhouse gases from soils in an unimproved pasture and regenerating indigenous Kunzea ericoides shrubland in New Zealand. Australian Journal of Soil Research 48(5): 385–394.

Millard P, Midwood AJ, Hunt JE, Barbour MM, Whitehead D 2010. Quantifying the contribution of soil organic matter turnover to forest soil respiration, using natural abundance [delta]13C. Soil biology and biochemistry 42: 935-943.

Peltzer DA, Allen RB, Lovett GM, Whitehead D, Wardle DA 2010. Effects of biological invasions on forest carbon sequestration. Global Change Biology 16(2): 732-746.

Ow LF, Whitehead D, Walcroft AS, Turnbull MH 2010. Seasonal variation in foliar carbon exchange in Pinus radiata and Populus deltoides: respiration acclimates fully to changes in temperature but photosynthesis does not. Global change biology 16(1): 288-302.

Bown HE, Watt MS, Mason EG, Clinton PW, Whitehead D 2009. The influence of nitrogen and phosphorus supply and genotype on mesophyll conductance limitations to photosynthesis in Pinus radiata. Tree physiology 29(9): 1143-1151. CCC:000269211100006

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  • Editorial Board, Tree Physiology
  • Fellowship, RSNZ
  • Adjunct Professor, School of Biological Sciences, University of Canterbury