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Position
Visiting Professor
Address
Kings Park and Botanic Garden
Fraser Avenue
Kings Park Western Australia 6005
Phone
(+61 8) 9480 3614

Research themes

My interests include plant form and function as they relate to natural systems and species. Core activities include conservation of rare and threatened species; restoration of degraded landscapes; horticultural and agricultural development of indigenous Australian plants. Underpinning these core areas are specialist activities in seed science, germplasm conservation, orchid biology and conservation, specialist systems of nutrition including mycorrhiza, cluster root and carnivory, biotechnology (in vitro systems) and genetics. Recent activities extend to the biology, genetic diversity and restoration of seagrasses (Posidonia) in Western Australia.

Academic background

I was raised within easy reach of bushland areas in the country and outer metropolitan Perth. As a result, my interest in native plants began at an early age with forays into surrounding bushland in search of orchids and other plants. A stint with one of Western Australia’s early wildflower nurseries, Wyemando in Guildford during my primary school years led to a deep and abiding interest in propagation, horticulture and the fascinating biology of native species.

I have over 20 years experience in researching the ecology and physiology of Australian native plants and ecosystems. As Director of Science at the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA), I developed a strong multi-disciplinary approach to conservation and restoration of native plant biodiversity and degraded landscapes. The research team of over 40 research staff and postgraduate students specialise in seed ecology and biology, propagation science, germplasm storage, conservation genetics and restoration ecology. This research group has contributed significantly to seed science in Australia, with major advances in understanding seed dormancy (pioneering work in smoke technology). My major contributions have been in the areas of horticultural development of Australian plants, conservation of rare species, minesite and urban bushland restoration and seed science.

I have published in the fields of ecology, ecophysiology and conservation, with 204 peer-reviewed publications. I was instrumental over the past 12 years in working with the research team that led to the discovery of a butenolide molecule responsible for eliciting smoke-like germination in seeds of Australian, agricultural and horticultural species. The work is being investigated in a number of areas including genetic control of butenolide-mediated expression; influence of the butenolide on GA expression in seeds; germination and vigour enhancement via the butenolide; ecological implications and natural abundance of the butenolide in non-fire soils.

Present distinguished positions include Board member, International Society for Ecological Restoration; Immediate-Past President, Australian Network for Plant Conservation; Member, International Panel of Experts for the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; Consulting Editor, In Vitro Cell and Developmental Biology; National Judging Panel, Eureka Awards; National Grant Advisory Panel, Australian Flora Foundation; Chairman, Research Committee, Australian Orchid Foundation; Delegate of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation to the Council of Heads of Australian Botanic Gardens.

Other honours include co-recipient and recipient Australian Minerals Energy Environment Foundations Awards of Environmental Excellence (1992, 1996). Co-recipient of Golden Gecko Awards for Environmental Excellence (1997 and 2000). National President, Australian Network for Plant Conservation (1998 - 2003). Adjunct Associate Professor and Professor (1999 - 2005), Visiting Professor (2005 - present) School of Plant Biology, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, The University of Western Australia.

Refereed publications include 7 books, 13 book chapters, 4 reviews, and 182 scientific papers. Research grants awarded include $7M over 5 years (2000 - 2005) Nationally competitive grants – Australian Research Council (14); Minerals and Energy Research Institute of WA (7); Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (6); Land and Water Australia (formerly LWWRDC) (3). Numbers of students supervised to completion are Honours (28), Masters (4), and PhD; (28).

Major projects

  • Researching and developing integrated restoration of borrow pits for Shark Bay Resources Pty Ltd. With Dr Deanna Rokich (BGPA) and Ms Lucy Commander (The University of Western Australia).
  • Deriving research benchmarks for nationally threatened plant species occurring on Westralia Airports Corporation Land. With Dr Deanna Rokich (BGPA) and Mr G Messina (The University of Western Australia).
  • Discovery of the physiological and molecular modes of action of butenolides in promoting seed germination and vigour in plants. Collaborator: Prof. S. Smith (The University of Western Australia).
  • Orchid Seed Conservation Science and Seed Conservation Science. Collaborators: Millennium Seedbank, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK; Department of Conservation and Land Management; Greening Australia WA.. Collaborators: Dr David Merritt and Dr Andrew Batty (The University of Western Australia).
  • Optimising synthesis, developing delivery systems and resolving the ecological significance of the chemical in smoke that promotes seed germination. Collaborators: Dr Gavin Flematti and A/Prof. E. Ghisalberti (The University of Western Australia), A/Prof. R. Trengove (Murdoch University).
  • A physiological and biochemical basis for seed storage for biodiversity conservation and restoration. Collaborators: Dr David Merritt and A/Prof. David Turner (The University of Western Australia).
  • Optimising collection, storage and germination of native plant species in minesite restoration. Collaborator: Dr David Merritt (The University of Western Australia).
    Mechanisms for release of deep dormancy in seeds of Australian plant species used in Land Restoration. Collaborators: Dr Shane Turner and A/Prof. J. Plummer (The University of Western Australia).
  • Grass roots – native perennial grasses for sustainable pasture systems. Collaborators: Dr Jason Stevens and Dr Megan Ryan (The University of Western Australia), Ian Chivers (Native Seeds Pty Ltd), Dr Meredith Mitchell (Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, CRC for Plant-Based Management of Dryland Salinity).
  • Reliable establishment of non-traditional perennial pasture species. Collaborators: Dr Ed Barrett-Lennard (AGWA), Dr Jason Stevens and Dr Megan Ryan (The University of Western Australia).
  • Orchid seed conservation science. Collaborators: Dr David Merritt (The University of Western Australia), Dr Robin Probert (MSB) and Ms Jessica Daniels (The University of Western Australia).
  • Weed Control and Biodiversity Rehabilitation for Newcrest Operations at Telfer, Western Australia. Collaborators: Dr Janet Anthony and Bob Dixon (BGPA).
  • Restoration of Banksia woodland communities on the Swan Coastal Plain. Collaborators: Dr Deanna Rokich (BGPA).
  • An integrated research program into practical outcomes for the ex situ and in situ conservation, restoration and translocation of Lepidosperma sp. ‘Mt Gibson’. Collaborators: Dr Matt Barrett and Dr Siegy Krauss (BGPA) and Mr Russell Barrett (The University of Western Australia).
  • Ecophysiology of early seedling growth and development for the effective translocation of seed-based propagules for restoration of seagrass (Posidonia australis) in Cockburn Sound. Collaborators: Dr Marion Cambridge and A/Prof Gary Kendrick (The University of Western Australia).
  • Conservation and Translocation of Caladenia huegelii -Key Concepts in the Development of an Integrated Conservation Program. Collaborators: Mr Nigel Swarts and Dr Andrew Batty (The University of Western Australia).
  • An integrated research program into practical outcomes for the ex situ and in situ conservation, restoration and translocation of Darwinia masonii at Mt Gibson. Collaborators: Dr Matthew Barrett and Dr Siegy Krauss (BGPA).
  • Vernal pool ecology and conservation science. Collaborators: Dr David Merritt (The University of Western Australia), Dr Robin Probert (MSB) and Ms Renae Tuckett (The University of Western Australia).

Research associates, post-docs and students

Current

  • Dr Matthew Barrett (Research associate; BGPA): An integrated research program into practical outcomes for the ex situ and in situ conservation, restoration and translocation of Darwinia masonii and Lepidosperma sp. Mt Gibson.
  • Dr David Nelson (Research associate; The University of Western Australia). Discovery of the physiological and molecular modes of action of butenolides in promoting seed germination and vigour in plants.
  • Dr David Merritt (Research associate; The University of Western Australia). A physiological and biochemical basis for seed storage for biodiversity conservation and restoration; Optimising collection, storage and germination of native plant species.
  • Dr Gavin Flematti (Research associate; The University of Western Australia). Optimising synthesis, developing delivery systems and resolving the ecological significance of the chemical in smoke that promotes seed germination.
  • Dr Shane Turner (Research associate; The University of Western Australia). Mechanisms for release of deep dormancy in seeds of Australian plant species used in Land Restoration.
  • Dr Jason Stevens (Research associate; The University of Western Australia). Grass roots – native perennial grasses for sustainable pasture systems; Reliable establishment of non-traditional perennial pasture species; weed seed bank control with butenolide.
  • Nigel Swarts (Research associate; BGPA) Biology and conservation ecology of the endangered urban orchid Caladenia huegelii.
  • Russell Barrett (PhD; 2006 – present) Ecological genetic pattern and process in the seagrass Posidonia australis. (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Siegy Krauss, Assoc Prof Gary Kendrick). Lucy Commander (PhD; 2005 – present) (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Deanna Rokich, Dr David Merritt).
  • Jessica Daniels (PhD; 2006 - present) Determining dormancy breaking requirements and investigating the effect of ex situ storage conditions on viability of native Australian orchid seeds from terrestrial habitats. (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr David Merritt, Dr Andrew Batty, Prof Stephen Hopper).
  • David Leach (PhD; 2005 – present). Assessing the impact of fire suppressing agents on native vegetation in Western Australia. (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Deanna Rokich).
  • Giuseppe Messina (PhD; 2005 – present). Deriving research benchmarks for nationally threatened plant species occurring on Westralia Airports Corporation Land (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Deanna Rokich).
  • Belinda Newman (PhD; 2005 – present) Orchids as bio-indicators of urban ecosystem sustainability. (Supervisors: Dr Philip Ladd, Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Mark Brundrett).
  • Ryan Phillips (PhD; 2006 – present) The Role of Pollinators and Mycorrhiza in Controlling Distribution and Speciation in Drakaea (Hammer Orchids). (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Prof Stephen Hopper.
  • John Statton (PhD; 2006 – present) Study of seed based methods for restoration of Posidonia in Cockburn Sound. (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Assoc Prof Gary Kendrick, Dr Marion Cambridge).
  • Renee Tuckett (PhD; 2006 – present) Seed Ecology of Vernal Pool species in Western Australia.’ University: University of Western Australia. (Supervisors: Prof. Kingsley Dixon, Prof. Stephen Hopper, Dr. David Merritt, Dr. Fiona Hay (MSB, Kew)).
  • Alea Faber (PhD; 2006 - present) Endemism and orchids - case studies in rare and common granite rock endemic species from the Darling Scarp. (Supervisors: Prof Stephen Hopper, Dr Pieter Poot, Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Eric Bunn).
  • Beorn Harris (2007 - present) Conservation biotechnology (Supervisors: Dr Eric Bunn, Prof Kingsley Dixon).

Past

  • Nigel Swarts (PhD; 2004 - 2007) Biology and conservation ecology of the endangered urban orchid Caladenia huegelii. (Supervisors: Prof K Sivasithamparam, Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Mark Brundrett).
  • Judy Fisher (PhD; 2000 - 2007) Biodynamics of disturbed urban Banksia woodland (Supervisors: A/Prof Bill Loneragan, Prof Kingsley Dixon).
  • Roberto Crosi (PhD; 1999 - ) (Supervisors: Dr Phil Ladd, Prof Kingsley Dixon).
  • Brett Neasham (PdD 2004 - failed to finish) The ecology and management of Euphorbia terracina (Geraldton Carnation weed) and Ferraria crispa (Black flag). (Supervisors: Prof Kingsley Dixon, Prof Richard Hobbs, Dr Deanna Rokich, Dr Katinka Ruthrof).
  • Matt Barrett (PhD; 1998 – 2006) Molecular Ecology of Chamelaucium (Supervisors: Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Prof John Considine).
  • Katherine Baker (PhD; 2003 - 2006) Alleviation of seed dormancy in fire ephemeral species of Gyrostemonaceae. (Supervisors: A/Prof Julie Plummer, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr Kathryn Steadman).
  • Alasdair Grigg (2001 - ) Restoration ecology of arid zone plants. (Supervisors: Prof. Hans Lambers, Prof Kingsley Dixon, Dr Erik Veneklass).
  • Gavin Flematti (PhD; 2000 - 2005) Identification and characterisation of the germination enhancing compound in smoke. (Supervisors: Prof. Emilio Ghisalberti, Dr Robert Trengove, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Penny Hollick (PhD; 2000 - 2004) Mycorrhizal specificity in endemic Western Australian terrestrial orchids (Tribe Diurideae): implications for conservation. (Supervisors: Prof. Jen McComb, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Nura Abdul Karim (PhD; 2000 - 2004) Mycorrhizal diversity in tropical Western Australian orchids. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr Mark Brundrett).
  • Marcelle Buist (PhD; 1999 - 2003) Comparative ecology and conservation biology of two critically endangered acacias (Acacia lobulata and A. sciophanes) and two common, widespread relatives (Acacia verricula and A. anfractuosa) from the south-west of Western Australia. (Supervisors: Dr Colin Yates, Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Eric Bunn (PhD; 1998 - 2003) Development of in vitro methods for ex situ conservation of rare Australian plants. (Supervisors: Dr Tissa Senaratna, Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Nika Debeljak (PhD; 2000 - 2003) Physiology of tuberisation in terrestrial orchids. (Supervisor: Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Janet Anthony (PhD; 1998 - 2002) Somatic embryogenesis in the Western Australian Epacridaceae. (Supervisors: Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr Tissa Senaratna, Prof. K. Sivasithamparam).
  • David Merritt (PhD; 1998 - 2002) Seed storage physiology. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Maggie Panaia (PhD; 1998 - 2002) Somatic embryogenesis as an efficient method for clonal propagation of Australian native southern rushes (Restionaceae) and sedges (Cyperaceae) for rehabilitation of disturbed habitats and horticultural utilisation. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Shane Turner (PhD; 1998 - 2002) Cryopreservation of native species. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Grace Zawko (PhD; 1998 - 2002) Genetic diversity of selected rare and endangered plants with special reference to conservation and management within the context of a mining operation. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr Siegy Krauss).
  • Julia Mattner (PhD; 1997 - 2002) The conservation biology of Hemigenia exilis (Lamiaceae), a serpentine endemic from the arid zone of Western Australia. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Lara Jefferson (PhD; 1998 - 2001) The biology and ecology of species of Maireana and Enchylaena: Intra- and inter-specific competition in plant communities in the eastern goldfields of Western Australia. (Supervisors: Dr Marcello Pennacchio, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Deanna Rokich (PhD; 1996 - 1999) Restoration of a Banksia woodland following sand extraction. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Anle Tieu (PhD; 1996 - 2000) The interaction of burial, heat and smoke in the alleviation of seed dormancy in selected southwestern Australian plant species. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr Kathy Meney).
  • Grant Wells (PhD; 1994 - 1999) Restoration of spinifex grasses Triodia and Plectrachne at Argyle Diamond Mine. (Supervisors: A/Prof. Bill Loneragan, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Shauna Roche (PhD; 1994 - 1998) For everything a season: smoke-induced seed germination and seedling recruitment in a Western Australian Banksia woodland. (Prof. John Pate, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Bradley Hutton (PhD; 1994 - 1997) Biology and ecology of endophytes of Australian native heaths (Epacridaceae). (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Prof. John Pate).
  • Tina Bell (PhD; 1992 - 1996) Ecophysiology of Epacridaceae. (Supervisors: Prof. John Pate, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Ingrid Sieler (PhD; 1992 - 1996) The horticultural development of South-West Australian Restionaceae and Cyperaceae. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Darren Touchell (PhD; 1992 - 1996) Cryogenic preservation of Grevillea scapigera. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Kirsten Websdane (PhD; 1992 - 1996) Smut diseases of native plants. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Kathy Meney (PhD; 1991 - 1995) Ecology of native WA Restionaceae. (Supervisors: Dr Kingsley Dixon, Prof. John Pate).
  • Maurizio Rossetto (PhD; 1991 - 1995) Integrated conservation of Grevillea scapigera (A.S.George). (Supervisors: Dr Patricia Weaver, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Peter Hood (incomplete) Genetic provenance of native bushland species. (Supervisors: Dr Siegy Krauss, Dr Kingsley Dixon, Dr P. Lavery).
  • Sofi Mursidawati (MSc; 2003 - 2004) Mycorrhizal association, propagation and conservation of the myco-heterotrophic orchid Rhizanthella gardneri. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Mark Brundrett, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Michael Lloyd (MSc; 2000 - 2001) An evaluation of the potential for smoke products to be used as a tool in the revegetation of broadscale areas. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Eric Bunn (MSc; 1992 - 1994) Micropropagation of recalcitrant Australian plants, with special emphasis on rare and endangered taxa. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Maurizio Rossetto (MSc; 1989 - 1990) In vitro propagation of Caustis dioica and Leptocarpus scariosus. (Supervisors: Dr Paddy Weaver, Dr Kingsley Dixon).
  • Robert Ramsay (MSc; 1985 - 1986) Endophytes associated with WA orchids. (Supervisors: Prof. K. Sivasithamparam, Dr Kingsley Dixon).

Selected publications

Pate JS and Dixon KW (1982) Tuberous, cormous and bulbous plants - biology of an adaptive strategy. University of Western Australian Press, Nedlands, 268 pp.

Dixon KW (1994) Towards integrated conservation of Australian endangered plants - the Western Australian model. Biodiversity and Conservation 3: 148-159.

Dixon KW, Roche S and Pate JS (1995) The promotive effect of smoke derived from burnt native vegetation on seed germination of Western Australian plants. Oecologia 101(2): 185-192.

Barrett RL and Dixon KW (2001) A revision of the genus Calectasia (Calectasiaceae) with eight new species described from south-west Western Australia. Nuytsia 13(3): 411-448.

Batty AL, Dixon KW, Brundrett MC and Sivasithamparam K (2001) Constraints to symbiotic germination of terrestrial orchid seed in a mediterranean bushland. New Phytologist 152: 511-520.

Tieu A, Dixon KW, Meney KA, Sivasithamparam K and Barrett RL (2001) Spatial and developmental variation in seed dormancy characteristics in the fire-responsive species Anigozanthos manglesii (Haemodoraceae) from Western Australia. Annals of Botany 88(1): 19-26.

Sivasithamparam K, Dixon KW and Barrett RL (2002) (eds) Microorganisms in plant conservation and biodiversity. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. 378 pp.

Dixon KW and Barrett RL (2003) Defining the role of fire in south-west Western Australian plants. In: Fire in ecosystems of south-west Western Australia: impacts and management. (ed. I. Abbott and N. Burrows). pp. 205-223. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Dixon KW, Kell S, Barrett RL and Cribb PJ (eds) (2003) Orchid Conservation. Natural History Publications, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. (431pp).

Flematti GR, Ghisalberti EL, Dixon KW and Trengove RD (2004) A compound from smoke that promotes seed germination. Science305: 977 (13 August 2004). Published online 8 July 2004; DOI: 10.1126/science.1099944

See Kingsley's full list of publications on Google Scholar...

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