Due to very high fire danger conditions, Naturescape is closed and Kings Park afternoon guided walks are cancelled.

Research Scientist (Seed Science)
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue
West Perth Western Australia 6005
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(+61 8) 9480 3969
(+61 8) 9480 3641

Research interests

  • Seed Ecology
  • Seed Germination and Dormancy
  • Seed Persistence in Restoration
  • Karrikinolide
  • Physiological Dormancy
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Mine Rehabilitation
  • Arid-zone Ecology
  • Topsoil Management

Academic background

Lucy completed her undergraduate degree in Horticulture at the University of Western Australia and it was during her 4th year project in 2003 that she developed an interest in seed ecology and mine rehabilitation. After graduating with first class honours, Lucy worked as a research assistant with the Seed Science team in the Science Directorate at BGPA for 12 months then commenced her PhD project with the Restoration Ecology and Seed Biology groups. The project combined her fascination with Australian seed germination and dormancy with her interest in applied research and desire to produce practical findings for improving restoration techniques. After completing her PhD in 2008, she continued her research into seed germination and dormancy for mine restoration through projects with Telfer Gold Mine and Rio Tinto Iron Ore in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Currently, Lucy is undertaking research with Dr Luis Merino Martin on restoration of a Threatened Ecological Community. This project, based at an iron-ore mine at Koolanooka Hills in the mid-west, combines Lucy’s expertise in seed ecology with Luis’ interest in ecohydrology.

Lucy is passionate about improving restoration through efficient seed use, including optimising seed quality and storage, and understanding germination cues and dormancy mechanisms. Lucy is also interested in arid-zone ecology, seed ecology and seedling recruitment, seed persistence in restoration, and smoke-stimulated germination. Current areas of research include the interaction between loss of physiological dormancy and karrikinolide (an active component of smoke); identifying soil properties and seed germination traits that influence seedling emergence in reconstructed soils; and seed ecology of riparian trees.


2012-present - Restoration of Banded-Ironstone communities in the Midwest.
Key staff: Dr Lucy Commander and Dr Luis Merino Martin
Collaborators: Dr Jason Stevens, Dr Ben Miller, Dr Ellery Mayence, Dr Kingsley Dixon
Industry Partner: Sinosteel Midwest Corporation Limited (Koolanooka Mine Site)

2012-present - Restoration of arid grasslands and woodlands in the Great Sandy Desert.
Key staff: Peter Golos
Collaborators: Dr Lucy Commander, Dr Ellery Mayence, Dr Kingsley Dixon
Industry partner: Birla Nifty Copper Operation

2010-present - Genetic survey, provenance evaluation and seed conservation of three key tree species at Weeli Wolli Creek.
Key staff: Dr Paul Nevill and Dr Lucy Commander
Collaborators: Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr David Merritt, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Donna Bradbury
Industry Partner: Rio Tinto Iron Ore

2010-2011 - Delivering effective seed resource management for rehabilitation in the Pilbara.
Key staff: Dr Lucy Commander
Collaborators: Dr David Merritt, Dr Kingsley Dixon.
Industry Partner: Rio Tinto Iron Ore

2008-2011 - Seed germination, dormancy and storage of key species at Telfer Mine in the eastern Pilbara for use in rehabilitation.
Key staff: Dr Lucy Commander
Collaborators: Dr David Merritt, Dr Deanna Rokich, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Peter Golos.
Industry Partner: Newcrest Mining Limited (Telfer Gold Mine)

2005-2008 - A program to research and develop integrated restoration of borrow pits for Shark Bay Salt (PhD project)
Supervisors: Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr Deanna Rokich and Dr David Merritt
Industry Partner: Shark Bay Salt Pty Ltd

Potential Student Projects

  • Seed persistence and drivers of seedling recruitment in a Threatened Ecological Community, and their implications for topsoil management in mine restoration. (Co-supervisor Dr Luis Merino Martin)
  • Are we providing the niche? Recruitment niches, biotic and abiotic filters of seed germination in natural and restored landscapes. (Co-supervisor Dr Luis Merino Martin)
  • Propagation of Bush Foods from seed.
  • Genetic barcoding of topsoil seedbanks for restoration. (Co-supervisor Dr Paul Nevill)


  • Clare Courtauld (Honours 2013) Seed Ecology of Semi-Arid Western Australian Species for Restoration of a Threatened Ecological Community.
  • Majda Suleiman (PhD, 2012 - ) 'Restoration ecology of Acacia pachyceras in the state of Kuwait.'
  • Sarah Fairbrass (4th year, 2011) ‘Seed biology of the fire ephemeral, Anthocercis littorea.’
  • Clare Whyte (Honours, 2010) ‘The effects of water stress, salinity, and temperature on germination, seedling emergence, and seedling biomass: implications for restoration in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.’

Lucy supervises students enrolled in the UWA unit BIOL4401 Conservation Biology and Restoration Ecology (formerly BIOL3303).


Refereed publications

  • Commander LE, Rokich DP, Renton M, Dixon KW, Merritt DJ (2013) Optimising seed broadcasting and greenstock planting for restoration in the Australian arid zone. Journal of Arid Environments 88, 226-235.
  • Flematti GR, Scaffidi A, Goddard-Borger ED, Heath CH, Nelson DC, Commander LE, Stick RV, Dixon KW, Smith SM, Ghisalberti EL (2010) Structure - activity relationship of karrikin germination stimulants. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 58, 8612-8617.
  • Commander LE, Merritt DJ, Rokich DP, Dixon KW (2009) The role of after ripening in promoting germination of arid zone seeds: a study on six Australian species. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 161, 411-421.
  • Commander LE, Merritt DJ, Rokich DP, Dixon KW (2009) Seed biology of Australian arid zone species: Germination of 18 species used for rehabilitation. Journal of Arid Environments 73, 617-625.
  • Commander LE, Merritt DJ, Rokich DP, Flematti GR, Dixon KW (2008) Seed germination of Solanum spp. (Solanaceae) for use in rehabilitation and commercial industries. Australian Journal of Botany 56, 333-341.
  • Turner SR, Commander LE, Baskin JM, Baskin CC, Dixon KW (2009) Germination behaviour of Astroloma xerophyllum (Ericaceae), a species with woody indehiscent endocarps. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 160, 299-311.
  • Turner SR, Merritt DJ, Ridley E, Commander LE, Baskin JM, Baskin CC, Dixon KW (2006) Ecophysiology of seed dormancy in the Australian endemic species Acanthocarpus preissii (Dasypogonaceae). Annals of Botany 98, 1137-1144.

Unrefereed publications, reports and theses

  • Nevill, PG., Commander, L., and Krauss, SL (2010) Genetic composition of key tree species at Weeli Wolli Creek. Nov 2010 Six monthly project progress report. BGPA Science Directorate. Report prepared for Rio Tinto Hammersley Iron Pty Ltd.
  • Commander LE (2008) Seed biology and rehabilitation in the arid zone: a study in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area, Western Australia. PhD Thesis, School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia.
  • Commander LE, Merritt DJ, Rokich DP, Dixon KW (2007) Seed germination and dormancy of arid zone species of Australia. In 'Proceedings of the Seed Ecology II 2007 Conference, 9-13 September, Perth, Australia'. (Eds SR Turner, DJ Merritt, S Clarke, LE Commander and KW Dixon) p. 15. (Kings Park and Botanic Garden) Perth, Western Australia.
  • Commander LE, Merritt DJ, Turner SR, Rokich DP, Dixon KW (2005) Seed germination biology of arid zone species in Western Australia. In 'The World Conference on Ecological Restoration (17th Conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration International) 12-18th September, 2005' Zaragoza, Spain.
  • Commander LE, Plummer JA, Turner DW (2005)
    Terminalia canescens (Combretaceae), a tropical tree with physiologically dormant seed. In '8th International Workshop on Seeds, 8-13th May, 2005' Brisbane, Australia.
  • Merritt DJ, Turner SR, Commander LE, Dixon KW (2004) Integrated seed science for delivering a better restoration outcome.
    In 'Proceedings of the Fifth Australian Workshop on Native Seed Biology'. (Eds SW Adkins, PJ Ainsley, SM Bellairs, DJ Coates and LC Bell) pp. 69-76. (Australian Centre for Minerals Extension and Research) Brisbane, Australia.
  • Turner SR, Merritt DJ, Clarke S, Commander LE, Dixon KW (2007) (Eds)
    'Proceedings of the Seed Ecology II 2007 Conference, 9-13 September, Perth, Australia.' (Kings Park and Botanic Garden: Perth, Australia)
  • Commander LE (2003) The role of the wet season in germination of Terminalia canescens (DC.) Radlk, a tropical tree. Fourth Year Project Thesis, The University of Western Australia.