- Ecological genetics, including applications to native plant materials development and ecological restoration on public lands in the western United States
- Understanding genetic and environmental controls on critical stages of plant recruitment success, with applications to restoration and conservation in a changing climate
- Ex situ conservation of exceptional species, including Oaks
- Increasing collaboration among botanic gardens and partners to advance plant conservation
My research (carried out in collaboration with Drs. Jeremie Fant, Kayri Havens, Krissa Skogen and Dan Larkin) as part of our CARICE project) uses the tools of ecological genetics to answer questions aimed at making ecological restoration practices as economically feasible and successful as possible. Most of this work takes place in the western United States, where there is a great need for restoration on a large-scale. Restoration efforts are often hampered by a lack of information about which species and seed sources should be used to maximize restoration success. Even when this information is known, the availability of seeds often limits what can be done for the restoration. I use ecological genetics research to inform the selection of species and seed sources for restoration, and to support the development of native plant material that will allow species diversity and ecosystem function to be restored to degraded arid environments in the western U.S.
I am also working with collaborators here at Chicago Botanic Garden, the University of Wyoming, and Middle Tennessee State University on a project that, if funded, will quantify the genetic and environmental controls on critical stages of plant recruitment success (seed dormancy, germination and establishment) for an array of native species spanning the central United States. Results of this research will help us understand the ability of plant species to respond to changing climates.
I am also the Executive Director of Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S. (BGCI U.S.), which is hosted by the Chicago Botanic Garden. Headquartered at Kew Gardens in London, BGCI is the world's largest network dedicated to conserving plant diversity and the ecosystem services it sustains. With a mandate from the United Nations, we strengthen the plant conservation community by connecting the world's botanic gardens through unique online databases and publications, and we work with our network to advance cutting-edge research, conservation, restoration and education that engages local communities for lasting results.
Kramer, A., and V. Pence. 2012. The challenges of ex situ conservation for threatened oaks. International Oaks (Journal of the International Oak Society). 23: 91-108.
Kramer, A.T., J. Fant, and M.V. Ashley. 2011. Influences of landscape and pollinators on population genetic structure: examples from three Penstemon (Plantaginaceae) species in the Great Basin. American Journal of Botany. 98: 109-121.
Sundberg, M., P. DeAngelis, K. Havens, K. Holsinger, K. Kennedy, A. Kramer, R. Muir, M. Olwell, K. Schirenbeck, L. Stritch, and B. Zorn-Arnold. 2011. Perceptions of Strengths and Deficiencies; Disconnects between Graduate Students and Prospective Employers. BioScience 61(2): 133-138.
Britton, K.O., P. White, P., A. Kramer, and G. Hudler. 2010. A new approach to stopping the spread of invasive insects and pathogens: early detection and rapid response via a global network of sentinel plantings. New Zealand Journal of Forestry 40:109-114.
Kramer, A.T. and K. Havens. 2009. Plant conservation genetics in a changing world. Trends in Plant Science 14(11):599-607.
Vitt, P., K. Havens, A.T. Kramer, D. Sollenberger, E. Yates. 2009. Assisted migration of plants: changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes. Biological Conservation. 43(1): 18-27.
Kramer, A.T., J.L. Ison, M.V. Ashley, and H.F. Howe. 2008. The paradox of forest fragmentation genetics. Conservation Biology 22(4):878-885.
Kramer, A.T. and J.B. Fant. 2007. Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in Penstemon rostriflorus (Plantaginaceae) and cross species amplification. Molecular Ecology Notes 7(6):998-1001.
Harnessing the power of botanic gardens. Keynote address to Botanic Gardens of Australia and New Zealand Conference. Albury, Australia. October 2011.
Lessons from the U.S. Botanical Capacity Assessment Project – Building Links Between Stakeholders. International Botanical Congress. Melbourne, Australia. 2011.
Genetic considerations that determine the success of native plantings: examples from Penstemon in the Great Basin. American Seed Trade Association. Kansas City, Missouri. November 2009.
Successful restoration of plant communities: why pollinators matter. Lecture at the Chicago Botanic Garden. July 2007.
Conservation and Restoration in Changing Environments (CARICE)
Much of the native habitat in the western United States is degraded as a result of changes imposed by invasive species, altered fire regimes and land use patterns, and a shifting climate. These changes will only become more prevalent in the future. To ensure the region's unique plant and animal diversity, and the ecosystem services it provides, is resilient in the face of these changes, restoration on a large-scale is needed. To help make restoration efforts as efficient and effective as possible, we conduct applied research to inform restoration in the arid environments of the western U.S. (particularly the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin).We focus on two broad research themes: 1) Identifying, developing, and using appropriate native plant material for successful restoration; AND 2) Quantifying and restoring ecosystem function that has been lost
Botanic Gardens Conservation International
Botanic Gardens Conservation International maintains information on plant conservation and education around the world, highlighting the important work of botanic gardens and partners in achieving the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. My work with BGCI in the United States includes projects on botanical capacity in the United States, a North American assessment of ex situ collections, and developing conservation interpretation materials for public gardens.
Seeds of Success
The national Seeds of Success program, established in 2001 by the Bureau of Land Management and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Millennium Seed Bank, is working to collect, conserve, and develop native plant materials for stabilizing, rehabilitating and restoring lands in the United States. Many botanic gardens, including the Chicago Botanic Garden, are partners on this nationwide project. I learned a lot about the power of partnership from this program, and am proud that my research helps inform its work.
National Collection of Endangered Plants
As an endangered plant specialist, I managed a two-year, collaborative project (funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, or IMLS) to create CPC's National Collection of Endangered Plants website. This site outlines what the network of CPC-member botanic gardens are doing to help conserve more than 575 threatened and endangered plants in the United States, and details each species' current status, as well as management and research needs. This project was completed in December 2002, and the site is now hosted and continually updated on the Center for Plant Conservation's website at http://www.centerforplantconservation.org/NC_Choice.html. This project allowed me to interact with the wonderful network of researchers at botanic gardens around the country who are working to conserve the nation's imperiled plants, and also showed me the significant need for more research to help guide management decisions for these rarest of plants. This experience strongly influenced my decision to pursue my Ph.D. and conduct research with real on-the-ground applications.
Plants of Concern
As a Garden intern, I worked with Garden scientists on research aimed at understanding the population biology of threatened/endangered plant species in the Midwest (including Viola conspersa, Platanthera leucophaea, and Lespedeza leptostachya). This research helped form the basis for long-term monitoring protocols on rare species in the Chicago region, in what is now the Garden's Plants of Concern program.