The Science team undertakes research in native plant biology, underpinning conservation and ecological restoration of Western Australia's unique biodiversity.

Recent highlights include:

15 November 2015

His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, visited the Biodiversity Conservation Centre as part of the Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand. During the visit, Prince Charles met with PhD students to discuss their research projects and learn more about BGPA's innovative conservation efforts.

3 November 2015

Dr's Russell and Matthew Barrett describe 50 new Western Australian plant species celebrating the WA Botanic Garden's 50 year anniversary. The Journal of the WA Herbarium – Nuytsia: Western Australia's Journal of Systematic Botany has published these works online. WA boasts one of the highest rates of discovery of new plant species anywhere on Earth and the issue in which 50 new Western Australian species are named represents an outstanding contribution by Kings Park and Botanic Garden staff, particularly by the principal authors Russell and Matthew Barrett.

30 October 2015

Dr David Merritt (BGPA), with colleagues A/Prof Gavin Flematti (UWA), Dr Mark Waters (UWA), Prof Kingsley Dixon (Curtin U) and Prof Maria Perez Fernandez (Universidad Pablo de Olavide Sevilla) were successful in their application for an ARC Discovery grant on 'Smoke-derived karrikins reveal a new pathway for plant development'. Read more about Dr Merritt's research.

16 October 2015

The Western Australian Biodiversity Science Institute (WABSI) was officially opened by Premier Colin Barnett at The University of Western Australia. WABSI aims to coordinate and align a state-wide biodiversity knowledge system to remove roadblocks to the responsible advancement and development of Western Australia, while also protecting the State's significant biodiversity assets. WABSI is a co-operative project between founding members: Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority, The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, CSIRO, the West Australian Department of Parks and Wildlife, the Western Australian Museum, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

20 August 2015

Todd Erickson had his PhD thesis entitled 'Seed dormancy and germination traits of 89 arid zone species targeted for mine-site restoration in the Pilbara region of Western Australia' passed by the Board of the graduate research school at the University of Western Australia. Read more about Dr Erickson's work.

29 July 2015

Bryn Funnekotter had his PhD thesis entitled 'The Role of Oxidative Stress in Successful Cryopreservation of South-west Western Australian Plant Species' passed by Curtin University. Read more about cryopreservation research in the Conservation Biotechnology section.

1 July 2015

Dr Ben Miller is appointed as the new Director of Science. Dr Miller replaces Prof Kingsley Dixon, who after 31 years as Director, has accepted a position as professor at Curtin University. More information on Dr Miller can be found on his staff page.

26 June 2015

Belinda Newman, with colleagues, publishes a new paper showing that the widespread orchid Pheladenia deformis utilizes a single, widespread fungus, enabling a widespread distribution despite high specificity. Read more via an external online library.

15 June 2015

Ms Nicole Bezemer commences her new PhD research project under the supervision of Dr Siegy Krauss (BGPA), Prof Steve Hopper (UWA) and Dr Dave Roberts (UWA). Bronwyn's research addresses the evolutionary and conservation consequences of pollination by nectar feeding birds for eucalypts and banksias. Nicole's research contributes to a broader research program addressing bird-pollination with funding from the Australian Research Council Discovery grant.

3 June 2015

Ryan Tangney (Curtin University) commences his PhD under the supervision of Ben Miller (BGPA), David Merritt (BGPA) and Kingsley Dixon (Curtin). Ryan's research will assess how variation of season and fire intensity leads to different seed fates in Banksia woodlands. More information on the Kings Park burn study can be found on the project page.

20 May 2015

The Australian Research Council announces outcomes for the Industrial Transformation Training Centre (ITTC) Scheme for 2015. BGPA researchers were instrumental in crafting an application for an ITTC for Minesite Restoration, which was awarded funding of $4.96M over 5 years. The ITTCMR brings together researchers at BGPA, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia with 7 mining industry partners, and will fund 4 postdoctoral fellowships, 13 PhD scholarships and a centre manager. Read more via Australian Research Council's website.

19 May 2015

Todd Erickson co-authored a paper titled: 'Comparing ecological restoration in South Africa and Western Australia: the benefits of a 'travelling workshop' in Ecological Management and Restoration'. Todd reports on a traveling workshop across several South African and Western Australian biomes to discuss and evaluate the various approaches currently being utilised in ecological restoration. Key findings highlighted the contrasting nature of ecological restoration undertaken in these two ecologically similar but socially and politically different regions. Read more via an external online library.

14 May 2015

Todd Erickson co-authored a paper titled: 'Advances in restoration ecology: rising to the challenges of the coming decades' that was accepted in the journal Ecosphere. 

12 May 2015

Wolfgang Lewandrowski submitted his PhD thesis today through UWA. Wolf's research addressed the interaction between rainfall and seed germination processes in driving seedling establishment for better restoration outcomes in the Pilbara. Read more via UWA's website.

7 May 2015

Dr Ben Miller conducted an experimental burn in Kings Park as part of a research project: Assessing impacts of varying fire and weed management approaches on native species diversity, weed cover and fuel loads in an urban Banksia woodland.

20 April 2015

Alison Ritchie had her PhD thesis entitled 'Ecological and genetic indicators of restoration success' passed by the Board of the graduate research school at UWA. Congratulations Dr Alison Ritchie! Read more via UWA's website.

16 April 2015

Dr Ryan Phillips, Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Janet Anthony, and Prof Kingsley Dixon co-authored a paper titled 'Mismatch in the distribution of floral ecotypes and pollinators: insights into the evolution of sexually deceptive orchids' in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28:601-612. Read more via an external online library.

9 March 2015

Ms Bronwyn Ayre commences her new PhD research project under the supervision of Dr Siegy Krauss (BGPA), Dr Dave Roberts (UWA), Prof Steve Hopper (UWA) and Dr Janet Anthony (BGPA). Bronwyn's research addresses the evolutionary and conservation consequences of pollination by nectar feeding birds for kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos). Bronwyn's research contributes to a broader research program addressing bird-pollination with funding from the Australian Research Council Discovery grant.


12 November 2014

Dr Eric Bunn published new research with Prof Kingsley Dixon and Dr Betty Bustam. Bustam B, Dixon KW, Bunn E. 2014. In vitro propagation of temperate Australian terrestrial orchids: revisiting asymbiotic compared to symbiotic germination. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 176:556-566. This study clearly indicates the value of revisiting germination protocols with Australian terrestrial orchid species as significant increases in germination and speed of protocorm development into plantlets was experienced with a range of orchid taxa using the new asymbiotic protocol. Read more via an external online library.

29 October 2014

Dr Siegy Krauss published new research with Alison Ritchie and Karen Frick. Frick KM, Ritchie AL, Krauss SL (2014) Field of dreams: restitution of pollinator services in restored bird-pollinated plant populations. Restoration Ecology 22:832-840. Read more via an external online library.

In the baseball movie 'Field of Dreams', Kevin Costner's character is told 'If you build it (a baseball field), they (baseball players) will come'. In restoration ecology, it is largely assumed that if you put the plants back, the pollinators will come. In this study, Karen Frick et al. tested this field of dreams hypothesis for nectar-feeding birds in restored banksia woodland. They found that although bird species composition differed between restored and remnant banksia woodland, pollinator services were delivered for seed production and wide outcrossing.

24 October 2014

Twelve post-graduate students completed their year-long honours research at Kings Park and submitted their theses:

  • Bronwyn Ayre - Consequences, and management, of genetic erosion in the recovery of the Corrigin Grevillea. Supervisors: Siegy Krauss, Janet Anthony.
  • Bryony Wilkinson - Acidifying soil amendments increase plant-availability of manganese for Eucalyptus marginata Sm. seedlings in a high-pH urban parkland soil. Supervisors Hans Lambers and Jason Stevens.
  • Melanie Britton - Impacts of dewatering on mating systems of riparian eucalypts in the Pilbara. Supervisors: Paul Nevill, Siegy Krauss, Carole Elliot, Janet Anthon.
  • Sasha Ayton - Native bee ecology. Supervisors: Sean Tomlinson, Ryan Phillips and Kingsley Dixon.
  • Russell Miller - The response of serotinous, non-sprouting plant species to long fire intervals in Perth's Mediterranean-climate woodlands. Supervisors: Ben Miller and David Merritt.
  • Sarah Boys - Seed enablement for restoration. Supervisors: Shane Turner, Peter Golos and David Merritt.
  • Sophie Cross - Assessing the return of biodiversity in a coastal restoration chronosequence. Supervisors: David Merritt and Kingsley Dixo.
  • Nicole Bezemer - Ecological and evolutionary consequences of pollination by nectar-feeding birds in a small isolated plant population. Supervisors: Siegy Krauss, Dave Roberts and Steve Hoppe.
  • Jamie Chan - Inbreeding and outbreeding depression in Stylidium: consequences for seed sourcing for ecological restoration. Supervisor: Siegy Kraus.
  • Mallory Barnes - Ecophysiology of Triodia seedling establishment for minesite restoration. Supervisors: Kingsley Dixon and David Merritt.
  • Sharon Fletcher - Effects of crypreservation on genetic fidelity of selected native plant species. Supervisors: Eric Bunn and Shane Turne.
  • Dmitri Ivanov - Vegetation restoration on Alcoa's bauxite residue ponds at Kwinana: Limitations to seedling recruitment. Supervisor: Peter Golos.

8 October 2014

Dr Siegy Krauss published new research with colleagues: McMahon K, van Dijk K, Ruiz-Montoya L, Kendrick GA, Krauss SL, Waycott M, Verduin J, Lowe R, Statton J, Brown E and Duarte C (2014) The movement ecology of seagrasses. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 281: 20140878. This paper reviews the mechanisms and consequences of dispersal in seagrasses within a movement ecology framework. Read more via an external publication website.

1 October 2014

Dr Siegy Krauss published new research with colleagues: Byrne M, Hopper S, Thiele K, Coates D, Krauss SL, Sniderman K and Forest F (2014) A diverse flora: species and genetic relationships. In: Lambers H (ed) Plant Life on the Sandplains in Southwest Australia, A Global Biodiversity Hotspot. UWA Press. This book chapter reviews the phylogenetics and population genetics of the kwongan flora. Read more via an external publication website.

September 2014

Dr Jessica Stingemore graduated at UWA with her PhD degree for her research on 'Plant density effects on genetic variation and dispersal for two co-occurring Persoonia species'. Dr Stingmore was supervised at BGPA by Dr Siegy Krauss and Dr Paul Nevill. Read more via UWA's website.

Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Paul Nevill and Ms Anna Williams published a review paper entitled 'Next generation restoration genetics: applications and opportunities' in Trends in Plant Science 19:529-537. In this review paper, the application of molecular markers for ecological restoration is briefly reviewed, and opportunities presented by next generation sequencing technologies addressed. Read more via an external online publication website.

The Science team undertakes integrated and innovative research in native plant biology, underpinning conservation and ecological restoration of Western Australia's unique biodiversity, and biodiversity generally. Successful conservation outcomes are achieved through world-class research and strategic alliances with industry, land managers, the community and other research organisations.

Research is focused in the key areas of restoration ecology, seed science, conservation genetics, conservation biotechnology, orchid conservation, and systematics, with a focus on extension to practitioners and land managers.

The Authority has a long history of successful post-graduate student supervision in collaboration with Western Australian universities and contributes to undergraduate teaching, predominantly in conservation biology and restoration ecology.