The Friends are actively involved in promoting and extending the Gardens' research and conservation capabilities. Since 2009 we have been partners with the ANBG, the Australian National University and the University of Queensland under a 3 year Australian Research Council Linkages project to further research into the seed ecology of Australia’s alpine flora. Australia’s alpine region is critically vulnerable to climate change and we still have limited knowledge about the ecology of our alpine flora, including its capacity to adapt to changed climatic conditions. Many plants are potentially under threat of extinction.
Botanic gardens have a key role to play in helping to conserve plants for the future. Over the years the ANBG has been developing a large collection of alpine plant seeds placed in long term storage. The alpine seed ecology research project is adding to this national collection of alpine seeds as well as helping us to better understand plant seed management requirements along with seed germination strategies.
Friends contribution and participation
The Friends are contributing about $66,000 over the life of the project which is expected to be completed during 2013. Some of the Friends contribution has been used to fund new seed drying facilities at the ANBG seed bank. This has significantly enhanced the ANBG's seed drying capabilities. Friends’ funding is contributing to a new display on alpine plants being established in the ANBG and education about alpine seed ecology.
The Friends are also participating through volunteering activities. The main volunteer involvement to date has been joining field excursions to the Alps to collect seeds and assisting in the preparation of seeds for their long term storage.
Sarah Fethers, ANBG Seed Bank manager, was closely involved in the project until her retirement in March 2012
The team for the current seed ecology project brings together people with diverse backgrounds and skills. Alpine park managers, university researchers, horticulturalists, seed bank curators, botanic garden managers and volunteers are all involved.
The research project is led by Dr Adrienne Nicotra, senior lecturer at ANU in the School of Botany and Zoology. The key researcher is Dr Gemma Hoyle, who has been investigating alpine seed germination strategies, including dormancy mechanisms and soil seed bank persistence Also involved are Dr Kathryn Steadman, senior lecturer in Pharmacy at the University of Queensland, and Mr Roger Good. ANBG staff in the seed bank and in horticulture are working closely with university researchers in designing and carrying out experiments on seeds and seedling ecology.