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David Whitehead

Principal Scientist, 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.

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.

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.

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, 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, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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