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Andrea Kramer

akramer's picture
Conservation Scientist, Restoration Ecology
Chicago Botanic Garden

akramer at chicagobotanic dot org

My research uses the tools of ecological genetics to answer questions aimed at making ecological restoration practices as economically feasible and successful as possible.


Projects
How much and what types of genetic diversity matter when restoring habitat? (2018)

We are studying how genetic diversity influences productivity and ecosystem services in wildflower species being used to restore habitat in the western United States. For this, we have measured differences in important leaf and root traits among many individuals from different populations of each species, and during Summer 2018 will be manipulating the amount and type of genetic diversity...


Understanding changes in genetic diversity when producing seed for restoration (2018)

Genetic diversity is an important quality in seeds used for ecological restorations.  Sourcing seeds from multiple wild populations increases overall genetic diversity. To produce enough seeds for large-scale restorations, multi-source seed production beds are used to combine seeds from wild populations, increase genetic diversity, and...


How can ex situ conservation help to save Hawai'ia's disappearing flora. (2017)

Many members of the Hawaiian flora are classified as exceptional species, where living plant collections are the only currently available ex situ conservation option. For example, Brighamia insignis (Campanulaceae), an endemic Hawaiian succulent species, is functionally extinct in the wild with only one remaining extant individual. It is cultivated ex situ in at least 57 botanical collections...


Invasion in the tallgrass prairie: do close relatives help or hinder? (2017)

My research focuses on understanding invasion in restored tallgrass prairies, one of the most endangered ecosystems worldwide. I am part of a team working on a plot experiment at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Broadly, we are trying to understand how phylogenetic and functional diversity affect restoration outcomes in tallgrass prairies. My focus is disentangling the effects of these two...


Investigating trait plasticity in plant species native to the Colorado Plateau to understand impacts on plant community dynamics and inform restoration (2017)

Plants can change their traits or behavior depending on the conditions they are exposed to, a phenomenon known as plasticity. Plasticity helps plants cope with heterogeneous or changing environments, and can determine the outcome of competitive interactions and ultimately the structure and diversity of plant communities. For example, plants often respond to herbivore attacks by accumulating...


Predictive provenancing: can southern-sourced seeds be used in Midwest restoration efforts? (2017)

Rapid anthropogenic climate change is currently causing range shifts and changes in phenology for many species. Many plant populations have been shown to be adapted to local environmental conditions. Restoration managers have hence primarily sourced their seed from local areas relative to the restoration site. However, the genotypes present in these populations used as seed sources may be ill-...


Smoke and Parasites... and other triggers to break seed dormancy (2016)

Dormancy allows seeds to wait out bad times and predict when conditions are most suitable for seedling establishment. Hence the triggers of seed germination will vary with ecosystem and life-history of a species. However, for many species these triggers are largely unknown. For example, for parasitic species like Comandra umbellata (an important native species in Midwestern prairie...


Developing genetically appropriate seed mixes of vulnerable plant species for restoration (2015)

Vulnerable plant species, which are often classified as rare or endangered in certain parts of their ranges, are unique in that they are neither common, nor highly threatened with extinction. However, local populations are often small and fragmented, which makes them ideal candidates for restoration. Threatened by climate change, habitat destruction, limited gene flow between fragmented...


Hybridization concerns for restoration of threatened Indian Paintbrush (2015)

There are only 11 known populations of Castilleja levisecta in the wild. Restorations efforts by multiple institutions has seen plants being reintroduced to sites in Oregon, where until recently it was extinct, and sites in Washington and British Columbia, Canada. These restoration efforts are important part of the recovery plan for this species. Although these reintroduction seem promising,...


Intraspecific traits of native prairie species (2015)

To address the loss of prairie ecosystems, ecological restoration is increasingly used to conserve native species and regain ecosystem services. However, despite decades of research and applied restoration, restored prairie habitat often falls short of remnant prairie habitat in supporting species diversity and delivering ecosystem services. Between-species and within-species functional trait...


Evaluating genetic diversity of living collections of Hawai'ian species, Brighamia insignis (2014)

Brighamia insignis, (olulu or alula in Hawaiian), is a Hawaiian lobeliad endemic to the islands of Kauai and Niihau. The species was listed as federally endangered in 1994 when there were only five populations totaling 45 to 65 individuals total. It is now listed as critically endangered, as there remains only a single wild individual clinging to the slopes of the Na Pali Coast on Kauai....


Genetics for good: helping to conserve a rare plant in the Pacific Northwest (2014)

Plant genetics involve more than GMO crops and gene splicing! Native plants have genes, too, and they could mean the difference between a population's survival and extinction. Our research looks for possible genetic divergence between wild and reintroduced populations of Castilleja levisecta, or golden paintbrush. Golden paintbrush is a small, charismatic, hemiparasitic plant that...


Using native winners to improve restoration outcomes on the Colorado Plateau (2014)

Restoration of habitat degraded by invasive species, wildfires, or other disturbances is occurring on a large scale in the western United States. These restoration efforts are often limited by lack of knowledge about which species will perform best in these degraded sites, and limited availability of affordable, appropriate native seeds. Research at the Chicago Botanic Garden is being carried...


When seed sourcing matters for restoration on the Colorado Plateau (2014)

Ecological restoration is the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. One key decision that has to be made when carrying out a restoration is determining where the seed should come from. Until recently it has been assumed that local sources are best, because they are most likely to be adapted to the climate and environmental conditions...


Care for Rare (2013)

This past summer I worked as a conservation project management intern with Andrea Kramer, Executive Director of BGCI (Botanic Gardens Conservation International) to manage two different conservation projects that were in the progression/development stage. 


The first project, Care for the Rare, is a conservation effort backed by BGCI, that provides gardens all over the world with a free...


Seeding Restorations: Evaluating seed viability to improve restoration outcomes (2013)

Most large-scale restoration projects are conducted using seed mixes. Knowledge of seed viability (ability of seeds to germinate) is important both in calculating seed required and evaluating establishment success of individual species or genotypes in a restored community. Methods of assessing seed viability differ some methods destroy the seeds, but are cheap, fast and easy, while others...