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

Recent highlights include:

2020

October

Alison Ritchie, Jason Stevens and Todd Erickson authored a new paper on developing extruded seed pellets to overcome soil hydrophobicity and seedling emergence barriers in two Proteaceae species.

September

Siegy Krauss, Janet Anthony co-author a new paper with Mike Lohr (ECU) and colleagues showing widespread connectivity in Australia’s most common owl, despite extensive habitat fragmentation.

Liz Sinclair co-authored a new paper on 'Blue Restoration' which provides managers, practitioners, and decision-makers with solutions to overcome a range of barriers to marine restoration, including social, political, and economic.

Further correspondence in Trends in Ecology and Evolution by Russell Miller, Ryan Tangney, David Merritt, Ben Miller and colleagues on their fire seasonality review paper published in the same journal in 2019.

August

Luisa Ducki commenced a one-year contract research assistant position, based at Kings Park and employed through Flinders Uni, to work on the ARC linkage project 'optimising seed sourcing for effective ecological restoration' with CIs Martin Breed (Flinders), Dave Merritt and Siegy Krauss (KPS), Erik Veneklaas and Michael Renton (UWA), Suzanne Prober (CSIRO), Renee Young (WABSI), and industry partners Hanson, Tronox, Iluka, AGRF, CSIRO, WABSI, CRC TiME and DBCA.

Bianca Berto, with supervisors Alison Ritchie and Todd Erickson, published her honours research demonstrating that using combinations of seed enhancement technologies can improve both germination and seed handling in native grasses for improved restoration.

Liz Sinclair spoke to High School students at the School of Isolated and Distance Education, as part of National Science Week. She introduced the students to seagrasses and marine restoration.

Belinda Davis and colleagues published new research showing that spider orchids (Caladenia) use a narrow range of fungal partners, simplifying the requirements for fungal species to be considered in translocations and conservation work.

Liz Sinclair co-authors a new paper that takes a detailed examination of tools and techniques available for seagrass restoration. The review describes several restoration successes in Australia and New Zealand, with a focus on emerging techniques, key considerations for future programs, and highlights the benefits of increased collaboration with Traditional Owners and stakeholders.

A new paper from Liz Sinclair, Jane Edgeloe, and Janet Anthony has been published on the variation in reproduction and mating system in the seagrass Posidonia australis. This work, in which Jane was supported by a Friends of Kings Park Summer Scholarship, shows overall seed production and outcrossing rates in Shark Bay meadows were lower than meadows in local Perth waters.

July

Carole Elliot attended the Goldfields Threatened Flora Recovery Team (GTFRT) Meeting to provide an update on the Tetratheca erubescens research project and participate in discussions relating to threatened species in the Goldfields. Participants included officers from the Goldfields Region Parks and Wildlife (DBCA), Goldfields Region Environmental Management Branch (DBCA), Species and Communities Program (DBCA), Kings Park Science (DBCA), Mineral Resources, AngloGold Ashanti Greenfields Exploration, Western Botanical, Botanica Consulting, and the Wildflower Society. 

CRC Coolamon, a first nations led native food and agriculture research initiative was submitted. This CRC is being led by the Harry Butler Institute at Murdoch University (Peter Landmann), with Kings Park Science contributing knowledge into the 'Cultivating on Country' research theme. Other collaborative partners include Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Charles Darwin University, Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation.

Todd Erickson, Dave Merritt and colleagues publish a new paper that examines variation in dormancy depth amongst 13 populations of Anigozanthos flavidus, highlighting the degree of dormancy and response to fire cues is highly variable among populations and that seeds from deeply dormant populations lose viability more quickly than seeds from less dormant populations.

A collaborative two-year project between DPIRD and Kings Park Science has commenced into native perennial pastures in the Kimberley. Project to include a desktop review of suitable species, field trials such as fencing enclosures to study natural regeneration, and seed biology of species of interest.

Ryan Tangney, Dave Merritt, Ben Miller and colleagues publish a new paper highlighting the relationships between seedling emergence behaviour, seed survival, and soil temperatures during fire under different fuel loads for 13 species of Banksia woodland. Findings include that seeds differ in their response to soil heating and capacity to emerge from depth, with three distinct classes of response amongst species.

June

Jane Edgeloe (UWA) submitted her MSc thesis 'Population genomics in Posidonia australis: assessment of adaptive variation across a natural environmental gradient in Shark Bay’. Jane was supervised by Elizabeth Sinclair, Janet Anthony, and Jacqui Batley.

Luisa Ducki achieved a First class honours by Murdoch University for her thesis 'Soil fungi, but not bacteria, track vegetation reassembly across a 30-year restoration chronosequence in the northern jarrah forest, Western Australia'. Luisa was supervised at Kings Park by Siegy Krauss and Ben Miller, and Rachel Standish at Murdoch University.

First of a series of plantings of Caladenia busselliana conducted. One hundred and forty plants were translocated to bolster one of the largest remaining wild populations. Subsequent plantings at different sites will be undertaken in December 2020 and June 2021. The planting represents a significant milestone in the Caladenia busselliana recovery project, which aims to increase plant numbers from the current ten wild plants.

Emma Dalziell, Wolfgang Lewandrowski, and Dave Merritt publish new research showing that increased salinity reduces seed germination and impacts upon seedling development in Nymphaea L. (Nymphaeaceae) from northern Australia’s freshwater wetlands.

May

Lauren Svejcar was awarded her PhD for her research on 'How species interactions drive community re-assembly of banksia woodlands'. This research was a collaboration between Murdoch University (Rachel Standish and Joe Fontaine), Kings Park Science (Ben Miller and Jason Stevens) and Hanson Construction Materials.

Amber Bateman submitted her PhD thesis focussed on soil amendments and their impacts on seedling recruitment, conducted under RSB.

Fire Science/South Coast Region 2019-20 Regional Conservation Priority Project – Ben Miller plus others in DBCA (Plant Science and Herbarium Program, and South Coast Region), completed fieldwork in and around Fitzgerald River NP for their project looking at how seed production and population senescence in non-sprouting serotinous plants varies with time since fire.

Bronwyn Ayre awarded a PhD by UWA for her thesis 'The critical role of birds as pollinators of the red and green Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos manglesii'. Bronwyn was supervised at Kings Park by Siegy Krauss.

Bronwyn Ayre, with co-authors including Siegy Krauss, publishes the third paper from her PhD research, showing that the kangaroo paw Anigozanthos manglesii is dependent on birds for pollination. Exclusion of birds resulted in 67% fewer fruits and 81% fewer seeds, despite very high visitation by introduced honeybees. Honeybees are therefore highly inefficient pollinators of A. manglesii.

Siegy Krauss, with co-authors Barbara Briggs (RBG Sydney) and Caroline Connelly (RBG Sydney), publish descriptions for multiple Restionaceae taxa in the Flora of Australia.

April

A new paper from Subhashi Rajapakshe (Kings Park Science, Curtin University), Shane Turner (Kings Park Science), Sean Tomlinson (KPS) and colleagues on Hydrological and thermal responses of seeds from four non-dormant co-occurring tree species from southwest Western Australia indicate a link between distributional extent, temperature and water stress tolerance, and may have implications for identifying ecological filters of rarity and endemism.

PhD student Monte Masarei, and co-authors Lachlan Astfalck (UWA) Andrew Guzzomi (UWA), David Merritt and Todd Erickson publish a new paper from the Pilbara that investigates the influence of rocky soils, sowing depth, and seed treatments on the recruitment potential of Triodia grasses in mine rehabilitation. Findings from this research are now being used to design and build new precision seeding machines capable of operating in sloped and rocky landforms of the Pilbara.

March

Nicole Bezemer was awarded a PhD for her thesis 'Sex on the rocks: genetic structure, pollen dispersal and mating patterns in Eucalyptus caesia'. In addition, the Board of the GRS resolved to award the thesis on the Deans list for honourable mention – a rare award made to only a fraction of theses passed by UWA.

CRC TiME (Transitions in Mining Economies) funded by ARC, with the objective to drive transformational change to enable regions and communities to transition to a prosperous and sustainable post mine future. Kings Park Science will be a part of the 10 year research program, with a focus on biodiversity restoration. 

Dr Ryan Tangney started a postdoctoral position, employed by UNSW but based at Kings Park. Project is assessing the impacts of fire seasonality in managed landscapes. DBCA scientists on this project are Ben Miller, Katinka Ruthrof and Colin Yates.

Bianca Berto commences her PhD, exploring the use of seed enhancement technologies such as flash flaming, priming, coating, and pelleting to improve seed handling and plant establishment outcomes, targeted species are native grasses and herbs. Her supervisors are Todd Erickson, Alison Ritchie and John Morgan (La Trobe). 

February

Kings Park Summer Scholarship students presented on their 12-week summer research projects.

Siegy Krauss co-authors a paper that assessed genetic diversity, pollination and mating in restored populations of Banksia media at Gondwanalink, and found these to be equivalent to natural remnants, indicating a measure of restoration success. 

Shane Turner co-authors a new paper that outlines the steps of the seed dormancy classification process and the various corresponding methodologies for ex situ dormancy alleviation to improve restoration outcomes.

Collaborative agreement between the Australian Microbiome Initiative and Kings Park Science signed for the project 'post-mining restoration of the soil microbiome'.

Kings Park are linking to a global network for Biodiversity survey 'Life plan' – understanding biodiversity sites – natural urban remnants. One of one hundred paired sites around the world. Weekly sampling and analysis will be undertaken in Finland and collaborating with the Ecosystem Science Group at DBCA. 

January

A response letter published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution by Russell Miller, Ryan Tangney, David Merritt, Ben Miller and colleagues on their fire seasonality review paper published in the same journal in 2019.

ARC Linkage grant awarded for 'Optimising seed sourcing for effective ecological restoration'. Dr Martin Breed (Flinders U), Dr Siegy Krauss (DBCA), Dr David Merritt (DBCA), A Prof Erik Veneklaas (UWA), Dr Suzanne Prober (CSIRO), Dr Michael Renton (UWA), Dr Guy Boggs (WABSI), Mr Vern Newton (Hanson), Ms Sarah Jones (Tronox), Dr Christopher Noune (AGRF). Industry Partners Hanson and Tronox. Research will comprehensively assess whether there is a benefit from climate adjusted provenancing of seed for restoration. 

2019

December

Six summer scholarship students commence their 12-week research projects under the supervision of Kings Park Science scientists.

November

Nicole Bezemer submits her PhD on 'Sex on the rocks: genetic structure, pollen dispersal and mating patterns in Eucalyptus caesia'. This research is part of the broader genetic consequences of vertebrate pollination project.

PhD student Michael Just publishes a paper with Drs David Merritt, Shane Turner and colleagues in Australian Journal of Botany on the germination biology of the Albany pitcher plant, Cephalotus follicularis.

Drs Siegy Krauss, Janet Anthony and colleagues publish a paper showing that restored populations of Melaleuca acuminata are comparable to natural remnant populations for genetic diversity, mating system and reproductive output.

October

A new paper published in Plant Ecology on Eucalyptus caesia by Nicole Bezemer and colleagues finds no evidence for early inbreeding depression in planted seedlings.

Dr Matt Barrett co-authors a paper in Nature on the one thousand transcriptome project, which provides a new robust framework for examining the evolution of green plants.

Dr Wolfgang Lewandrowski and colleagues from Federation University, and University of Melbourne published a new paper in AoB Plants on the germination sensitivity of species to water stress in ecosystems with unpredictable rainfall.

New paper published in Molecular Ecology by PhD student Nicole Bezemer and colleagues finds divergent consequences for pollen dispersal and mating in different populations of Eucalyptus caesia.

Amber Bateman and Dr Miriam Munoz-Rojas attended and presented at the Soil Organic Matter 2019 Conference in Adelaide.

September

Bronwyn Ayre submits her PhD on 'The critical role of birds as pollinators of the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw Anigozanthos manglesii'. This research is part of the broader genetic consequences of vertebrate pollination project.

Kings Park Science research was presented and symposiums were hosted at the Society for Ecological Restoration Conference in South Africa, and was attended by Drs Todd Erickson, Carole Elliott, Vanessa Brown, Alison Ritchie, Ebony Cowan, Bahram Mirfakhraei and Ben Miller.

Dr Carole Elliott attended the Mount Mulanje Cedar Restoration Project workshop in Malawi, led by the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), Global Trees Campaign, Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust and the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi.

New paper published in Restoration Ecology on the use of bio-priming seed with cyanobacteria for restoration, by Drs Miriam Munoz-Rojas, Todd Erickson and David Merritt and colleagues.

Dr Wolfgang Lewandrowski and colleagues from Federation University, and University of Melbourne published a paper on seed traits from dominant dryland plant species in south-western NSW in PLOS|ONE.

August

Dr Ben Miller co-authors results from a large international collaboration across Mediterranean climate regions reporting on a survey of researchers, NGO’s, industry, government and consulting experts seeking to identify research priorities across 10 research themes.

Ben Miller co-authors a framework for developing mine-site completion criteria in Western Australia.

New paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution by Russell Miller and colleagues reviews the mechanisms of fire seasonality effects on plant populations.

Dr Olga Kildisheva publishes a new paper that optimises physiological dormancy break in cold desert perennials to improve restoration outcomes.

Dr Todd Erickson ran the Pilbara Rehabilitation Form at the University of Western Australia, that was attended by people from Industry, Government, Academic & Private sectors.

July

David Merritt attends the International Society for Seed Science Seed Ecology VI conference in Regensburg, Germany to present on Kings Park Science’s seed enhancement research that is contributing to improved seed handling practices for restoration.

Dr Siegy Krauss attended the International Conference for Conservation Biology (ICCB), and presented on 'Measuring and managing genetic erosion in plant translocation: lessons from 20 years of recovering Grevillea scapigera'.

PhD student Nicole Bezemer publishes new research showing that conservation of old individual trees and small populations are integral to maintain species’ genetic diversity.

June

Siegy Krauss and colleagues publish an assessment of genetic diversity and mating system of Acacia cyclops in restoration and remnant populations.

PhD student Amber Bateman published a new paper showing that water availability drives the effectiveness of inorganic amendments to increase plant growth.

PhD student Bronwyn Ayre publishes new research showing that the bird-pollinated Anigosanthos manglesii has near-neighbour optimal outcrossing.

Drs Todd Erickson and David Merritt, as part of a team from University of Western Australia, co-authored a paper on how practitioner perceptions into the future design of mechanical direct seeders for native seeds needs to factored into restoration.

Bianca Berto (UWA) submitted her Honours thesis 'Seed enhancement technologies applied in combination improves germination and handling in two Australian natives grasses', supervised by Todd Erickson and Alison Ritchie. 

Emma Stock (Murdoch) submitted her MSc thesis 'Experimenting with modified extruded seed pellets for large scale mine rehabilitation', supervised by Rachel Standish, Todd Erickson, Miriam Muñoz-Rojas and Richard Bell.

May

Joshua Kestel (UWA) submitted his honours thesis 'Genetic consequences of bird pollination for the common catspaw (Anigozanthos humilis)', supervised by Dr Siegy Krauss and Dr Janet Anthony.

Drs Carole Elliott, Wolfgang Lewandrowski, Ben Miller, Matt Barrett and Shane Turner publish new research on the identification of germination opportunities for threatened plants species in episodic ecosystems.

Drs Emma Dalziell, Bryn Funnekotter, David Merritt and colleagues from Curtin University publish new research on the seed storage behaviour of Nymphaea species.

New paper published in Restoration Ecology by PhD student Vanessa Brown and colleagues addresses seed pelleting solutions for restoring natural plant communities.

New research on demographic, seed and microsite limitations to seedling recruitment in semi-arid mine site restoration published by Dr Lucy Commander and colleagues.

April

PhD student Amber Bateman published a new paper on the effects of inorganic soil amendments on seedling performance in post-mining arid zone rehabilitation.

Dr Peter Golos publishes research finding that mixing waste rock from mining can improve micro-site potential and seedling emergence from broadcast seeds in an arid environment.

March

Dr Ben Anderson publishes a new paper that identifies recent range expansion for spinifex in response to increasing aridification.

Dr Alison Ritchie publishes new research showing that wide outcrossing and pollination by nectar-feeding birds provides functional connectivity for new and old Banksia populations within a fragmented urban landscape.

PhD student Jessica Huss publishes a paper detailing the remarkable insulating capacity of Banksia seed pods and their role in protecting seeds against fire. This is the third and final paper of Jessica's thesis and forms part of a collaborative project between Dr David Merritt and Dr Ben Miller and the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Germany.

PhD student Nicole Bezemer was awarded best student paper in 2018 by the Australian Journal of Botany for her sole-authored paper 'Wild seedlings of a tree endemic on granite outcrops show no evidence of inbreeding depression'.

February

Digging deeper into the formation of Australia Fairy Circles. Dr Stephan Getzin and colleagues, including Dr Todd Erickson and Dr Miriam Muñoz-Rojas from Kings Park Science, publish a new paper in Ecosphere providing new evidence on the cause of this unique, large-scale hexagonal pattern of Pilbara spinifex.

Kings Park access disruption

Road maintenance work will take place on a short section of May Drive from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm on Monday 23 November, Tuesday 24 November and Wednesday 25 November.

Kings Park visitor disruption: cycling trials

Visitor disruptions will occur on Lovekin Drive, Kings Park on select days between Tuesday 17 November 2020 and Tuesday 19 January 2021 due to cycling time trials.

Concert traffic interruptions

Road and carpark closures will occur in Kings Park and Botanic Garden in November 2020 due to concert events.

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Noongar Boodja Six Seasons is back!

Kings Park Education is excited to open bookings for our 2021 program of Noongar Boodja Six Seasons festivals, a celebration of Aboriginal culture, proudly presented by Fugro.

BGPA 2019-20 annual report

Connecting community, conserving flora and celebrating identity is the theme of the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority’s 2019-20 annual report which is now available online.

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