Keynote Addresses

Dixon Kingsley
Dr. Kingsley Dixon

John Curtin Distinguished Professor
Curtin University, Western Australia
Kingsley.dixon at

Keynote Address Abstract

As we move into the UN decade of restoration the demands grow for seed-based solutions that provide timely, effective and scalable opportunities. Technology developments, though developed in the US to a large degree yet poorly in the remainder of the world, represent one of the key impediments to delivering ‘on-demand’ restoration. Estimates of seed wastage in direct seeding programs from major restoration centres such as Australia and China, indicate that we still retrieve seed-to-plant conversions of just 10% or less. For biodiverse restoration this figure can be substantially less due to seed dormancy, low viability and inability to create the appropriate establishment niche following seeding. Developing an effective restoration toolkit that is built on sound science with a clear focus on practitioner application remains elusive for many restoration programs. I will outline global success stories in developing effective seed-based restoration and, importantly, how the soon to be published International Standards for Native Seeds in Restoration represents a key milestone for ensuring good seed delivers great restoration.

About Kingsley Dixon

Dr. Dixon is a botanist and biologists with 40 years research experience in threatened species conservation and restoration science on the landscapes of Australia. He is an active communicator and community scientist with links to community restoration programs in urban to remote regional communities. He is co-author of the Australian Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration and the International Standards. He has authored more than 400 research papers, 14 books including major works in conservation biology. 2014 Linnean Medal in Botany 2016; Scientist of the Year (Western Australia); 2018 John Curtin Distinguished Professor.

Dr. Don Falk

School of Natural Resources and the Environment 
University of Arizona 
dafalk at 

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Keynote Address Abstract


About Don Falk

Dr. Falk is Professor in the University of Arizona School of Natural Resources and the Environment, with joint appointments in the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research and the Institute of the Environment. He holds degrees from Oberlin College, Tufts University, and the University of Arizona, where he received his PhD in 2004. 

Don’s research focuses on fire history, fire ecology, and the adaptation of restoration ecology to resilience in a changing world. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and has received a Fulbright Short-Term Scholar award, the Ecological Society of America’s Deevey Award, and the Udall Faculty Fellowship in Public Policy. Don was co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Plant Conservation, originally at Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and now at San Diego Zoo Global; he subsequently served as the first Executive Director of the Society for Ecological Restoration. His books include Genetics and Conservation of Rare Plants, Foundations of Restoration Ecology (now in Second Edition) and The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Don was a delegate to the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris.

Dr. Falk was co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Plant Conservation at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University and Missouri Botanical Garden, now at San Diego Zoo Global. He served subsequently as the first Executive Director of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER), of which he was a founding Board member. 

Falk is the author of more than more than 100 publications and has co-edited five books, including Genetics and Conservation of Rare Plants (1991, Oxford University Press, with Kent Holsinger,), Restoring Diversity: Strategies for Reintroduction of Endangered Plants (1996, Island Press, with Connie Millar and Peggy Olwell), Foundations of Restoration Ecology (2006, Island Press, with Margaret Palmer and Joy Zedler; Second Edition 2016), and The Landscape Ecology of Fire (2011, Springer, with Don McKenzie and Carol Miller). He is a member of the Editorial Board for the SER-Island Press series, Science and Practice of Restoration Ecology, the Executive Board of the Southwest Fire Science Consortium, and is science lead for the FireScape initiative in the Arizona Sky Islands. He serves as Chair of the Global Change Ecology and Management degree option in the UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment. 

Dr. Daniel Laughlin

Department of Botany
University of Wyoming

Keynote Address Abstract

Restoration ecologists have an innate desire to restore what has been lost. Our first instinct is to use historical reference conditions as empirical benchmarks for restoration success. However, historical reference conditions in many regions are undefinable and are increasingly viewed as irrelevant under climate change. The important question to ask is why were species dominant historically? The answer, presumably, is because they exhibited traits that conferred high fitness in those environments. As the environment changes, optimal traits may shift, making historical trait distributions less fit and ill-suited for the task. If this is the case, then we may need a new framework for setting targets to meet desired functional outcomes in ecological restoration in a rapidly changing world. In this talk I will compare and contrast the use of historical reference conditions with those based on functional traits in a fire-adapted mixed conifer forest on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. This forest has increased in tree density since the age of fire suppression, which makes it more susceptible to stand-replacing crown fire. I will show how management actions designed to restore historical conditions work remarkably well to enhance forest resilience, but will also discuss alternative options that might lead to success in a hotter, drier climate.

About Daniel Laughlin

Dr. Laughlin is an Associate Professor of Plant Ecology in the Botany Department at the University of Wyoming. Before recently moving back to the USA, he spent 6 years as a professor at the University in Waikato in New Zealand, where he continues to collaborate on restoration projects. Daniel’s research group ( integrates ecophysiology and community ecology to predict population dynamics and restore wild landscapes. He develops predictive models of community assembly that integrate trait-based environmental filtering and species interactions, and is currently interested in identifying functional traits that predict plant population dynamics and fitness. He has been actively involved in studying the restoration of prairies, wetlands, shrublands, montane forests, and temperate rainforests around the world, and is currently developing quantitative frameworks for generating trait-based assemblages to meet functional objectives in restoration. Daniel has served as an Associate Editor for the journal Ecologyand Ecological Monographssince 2012.  He currently lives in Laramie, Wyoming, on the front range of the Rocky Mountains where he spends all his free time wandering through prairies, forests, and alpine meadows identifying a bewildering variety of forbs and grasses and collecting their seeds for propagation.

Dr. Tania Schoennagel

Research Scientist
University of Colorado, Boulder


Keynote Address Abstract

Wildfires across western North America have increased in number and size over the past three decades, and this trend will continue in response to further warming. Although many plants, animals, and ecosystem services benefit from fire, it is unknown how many ecosystems will respond to increased burning and warming. Wildfire management and policy have focused primarily on fire suppression and restoration of forests through fuels management. I address where forest restoration can be effective in promoting resilience to increasing wildfire, and where adaptive approaches to wildfire management, by which people and ecosystems adjust and reorganize in response to changing fire regimes to reduce future vulnerability, are needed. Key aspects of an adaptive approach to forest management recognize both the value and limitations thinning, and the need to actively managing more wild and prescribed fires with a range of severities. These strategies represent a shift in policy and management from restoring ecosystems based on historical baselines to adapting to changing fire regimes by ecosystems and people.

About Tania Schoennagel

Dr. Schoennagel is a research scientist at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She examines how climate, wildfire and insect outbreaks affect forests in the past and consider possible future changes to landscapes in the US West. She assesses the effect of management on forest resilience and considers adaptation of communities to more wildfire. She has conducted fieldwork in forests in Washington, Montana, Yellowstone, and Colorado, in addition to leading numerous West-wide spatial analyses.

“I hope that understanding western landscape change and forest management effectiveness will help avert surprises and promote resilient forests and communities in the West as climate changes.  I am most interested in pressing questions relevant to both people and ecosystems, spanning science and policy.”

Tania has engaged at the science-policy interface related to fire and national forest management, providing testimony to Congress and the Colorado legislature. Her work has been covered by national print and radio outlets (e.g. TIME, NYT, New Yorker, NPR), and she recently contributed to a documentary film on climate change, The Human Element. She has received competitive research fellowships, briefly worked at the USFS Fire Sciences Lab, received her Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin, and attended Dartmouth College.

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