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Research Scientist (Seed Science)
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue
Kings Park Western Australia 6005
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(+61 8) 9480 3922
(+61 8) 9480 3641

Research interests

  • Seed ecology
  • Germination biology
  • Dormancy alleviation
  • Mine restoration
  • Arid zone ecology
  • Practical application of seed science
  • Triodia seed establishment

Academic background

2003-2005 Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) - Biodiversity, Environmental, and Park Management, University of South Australia.

2006 Bachelor of Applied Science (1st class honours) (BAppSc) - Biodiversity, Environmental, and Park Management, University of South Australia.

Honours thesis title: ‘Seed dormancy patterns and germination requirements of two nationally-threatened Compositae species, Bracyscome muelleri Sond. and Senecio megaglossus F. Muell., in semi-arid South Australia’

Current project

Title: Seed dormancy patterns and germination requirements of dominant species in the Pilbara arid zone.

University: School of Plant Biology, University of Western Australia

Industry Partner: BHP Billiton Iron Ore

Supervisors: Prof. Kingsley Dixon (University of Western Australia), Dr. David Merritt (UWA), Dr. Shane Turner (UWA), Dr. Phillip Ainsley (University of Adelaide)

Project description: In June 2008, the Pilbara Seed Science and Resource Management Project ('Pilbara Seed Atlas') commenced between BGPA and BHP Billiton Iron Ore. The objectives of the project are to provide leading-practice seed science detailing methods of seed collection, cleaning and post-harvest handling, and an inventory of seed viability and an analysis of key seed germination characteristics to enable the efficient use of seeds in rehabilitation.

The underlying principle in this project is that knowledge of seed collection, handling and germination optimisation are complex when dealing with biodiverse plant communities as found in the Pilbara region. Past failures in the effective use of seed can be linked to the need to develop site-specific, bioregional approaches to seed utilisation that address the core issues of timing of collection, quality of seed, viability of seed and dormancy release. This study is the first attempt to derive robust, science-based criteria for establishing a sound and sustainable seed-based rehabilitation program for the Pilbara region.

Key areas of research are currently focused on:

  1. Identification of the phenology of flowering, fruit set and seed maturation and associated seed collection and cleaning techniques.

  2. Analysis of the purity and viability of collected seeds, and determination of seed germination and dormancy characteristics to define the available seed resource.

  3. Development of reliable methods for germination of dormant seeds to utilise the seed resource.

  4. Optimisation of seed storage methods to protect the seed resource.

  5. Application of seed enhancement technology to improve seedling establishment and deliver the rehabilitation potential of the seed resource.


Ainsley PJ, Jones MK, Erickson, TE. (2008). Overcoming physiological dormancy in Prostanthera eurybioides (Lamiaceae), a nationally endangered Australian shrub species. Australian Journal of Botany 56: 214-219.

Shackelford N, Hobbs RJ, Burgar JM, Erickson TE, Fontaine JB, Laliberté E, Ramalho CE, Perring MP, Standish RJ (2013) Primed for change: developing ecological restoration for the 21st century. Restoration Ecology, 21: 297-304. 

James JJ, Sheley RL, Erickson TE, Rollins KS, Taylor MH, Dixon KW (2013) A systems approach to restoring degraded drylands. Journal of Applied Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12090