Andrea T. Kramer, Ph.D.

Senior Director of Restoration, Associate Conservation Scientist, and David Byron Smith Family Curator of Natural Areas
(847) 835-6971
Curriculum Vitae:
Teaching and Research Affiliations:

Adjunct Associate Professor, Northwestern University (Joint Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation)

Selected Professional Associations:

Society for Ecological Restoration, Natural Areas Association, Botanical Society of America, Illinois Native Plant Society

Research Interests:
  • I conduct research in partnership with natural areas stewards to inform how we care for and understand our natural areas. In particular, I am interested in understanding how natural areas can best be stewarded to support species diversity of plants and all of the other species that depend on them. This includes informing work to produce and use seeds of native species to support the restoration of diverse and resilient habitat.

As Senior Director of Restoration, I am the team leader for the Garden's natural areas team (including the skilled team of ecologists who manage the Garden's amazing natural areas). I work collaboratively with land managers to harness the Garden's research capacity to address priority management needs. Ultimately, our goal is to play a leading role in supporting the conservation, management, and restoration of native plant diversity in the Chicago region that serves as a model for work in the United States and globally.

I am excited to be a part of the New Roots for Restoration Biology Integration Institute, which focuses on the overarching theme of how plant organismal systems (plant roots and shoots) relate to one another (1) and how those relationships influence and are influenced by plant communities (2) and the soil ecosphere (3). Coordinated projects and an Institute-wide training network bridge among disciplines to inform restoration of natural and agricultural ecosystems and to train the next generation of scientists.

Much of my research is carried out with students as part of the Garden’s graduate program in Plant Biology and Conservation and Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. In 2023 we were also excited to launch the new Stewardship and Ecology of Natural Areas (SENA) Internship program to provide more folks paid opportunities to learn how to care for and understand natural areas.

Our natural areas team is working to make natural history data on Mary Mix McDonald Woods available - the following datasets are available upon request: 

Bramstedt, M. W., and R. D. Windhorn. 2006. Soil Survey Mary Mix McDonald Woods Chicago Botanic Garden. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Sorenson, J., S. Lorig,  and J. Steffen. 1993. Point Quarter Tree Data for the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Selected Publications:

De Vitis M., Havens K., Barak R.S., Egerton-Warburton L., Ernst A.R.*, Evans M., Fant J.B., Foxx A.J., Hadley K.**, Jabcon J., O’shaughnessey J., Ramakrishna S., Sollenberger D., Taddeo S., Urbina-Casanova R., Woolridge C., Xu L., Zeldin J., Kramer A.T. 2022. Why are some plant species missing from restorations? A diagnostic tool for temperate grassland ecosystems. Frontiers in Conservation Science 3

Finch, J.*, Seglias, A.E.*, Kramer, A.T., Havens, K. 2022. Recruitment varies among milkweed seed sources for habitat specialist but not generalist. Restoration Ecology,e13725

Woolridge*, C.B., Fant, J.B., Flores, A.I**., Schultz, K., Kramer, A.T. 2022. Variation in overall fitness due to seed source: projections for predictive provenancing. Restoration Ecology,e13717

Kilgore, S.*, Havens, K., Kramer, A.T, Lythgoe, A.**, Mackechnie, L., De Vitis, M. 2022 Seed collection, storage, and germination practices may affect Viola reintroduction outcomes. Native Plants Journal 23(1):40-55

Lamb, N.*, Havens, K., Holloway, J.**, Steffen, J.F., Zeldin, J. & Kramer, A.T. 2022. Low passive restoration potential following invasive woody species removal in oak woodlands Restoration Ecology. 30(4),e13568.

Shackelford, N., G. Paterno, K. Suding, and 74 others, including A.T. Kramer. 2021. Drivers of seedling establishment success in dryland restoration efforts. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 5:1283–1290

Spence, E.S., J. B. Fant, O. Gailing, M.P. Griffith, K. Havens, A.L. Hipp, P. Kadav, A. Kramer, P. Thompson, R. Toppila, M. Westwood, J. Wood*, B.A. Zumwalde, S. Hoban. 2021. Comparing genetic diversity in three threatened oaksKucera, KF*, Fant, JB, Jensen, S, Landeen, M, Orr, E**, Kramer, AT. 2021. Genetic variation and structure change when producing and using mixed-source seed lots for restoration. Restoration Ecology

Wood, J.*, J. D. Ballou, T. Callicrate, J. B. Fant, M. P. Griffith, A. T. Kramer, R. C. Lacy, A. Meyer, S. Sullivan, K. Traylor-Holzer, S. K. Walsh, and K. Havens. 2020. Applying the zoo model to conservation of threatened exceptional plant species. Conservation Biology. Online early. DOI: 10.1111/cobi.13503

St. Clair, A.B.*, Dunwiddie, P.W., Fant, J.B., Kaye, T.N., Kramer, A.T.  2020. Mixing source populations increases genetic diversity of restored rare plant populations. Restoration Ecology. 28(3): 583-593.

Zeldin, J., T. Lichtenberger*, A. Foxx*, E. R. Williams, and A. T. Kramer. 2020. Intraspecific functional trait structure of restoration-relevant species: implications for restoration seed sourcing. Journal of Applied Ecology. 57(5): 864-874.

Kramer, A. T., B. Crane, J. Downing, J. L. Hamrick, K. Havens, A. Highland, S. Jacobi, T. N. Kaye, E. Lonsdorf, J. Ramp, A. Novy, P. E. Smouse, D. W. Tallamy, A. White, and J. Zeldin. 2019. Sourcing native plants to support ecosystem function in urban and rural restoration contexts. Restoration Ecology.

White, A.*, J. B. Fant, M. Skinner, K. Havens, and A. T. Kramer. 2018. Restoring species diversity: Assessing capacity in the United States native plant industry Restoration Ecology 26:605-611.

Seglias, A.*, A. Bilge, E. Williams, and A. T. Kramer. 2018. Phylogeny and source climate impact seed dormancy and germination of restoration-relevant forb species. PLoS ONE online Feb 5, 2018.

Kramer, A. T., T. E. Wood, S. Frischie*, and K. Havens. 2018. Considering ploidy when producing and using mixed-source native plant materials for restoration Restoration Ecology 26:13-19.

Fant, J. B., K. Havens, A. T. Kramer, S. K. Walsh, T. Callicrate, R. C. Lacy, M. Maunder, A. H. Meyer, and P. P. Smith. 2016. What to do when we can’t bank on seeds: What botanic gardens can learn from the zoo community about conserving plants in living collections. American Journal of Botany 10.3732/ajb.1600247 DOI.

Larkin, D. J., S. K. Jacobi, A. L. Hipp, and A. T. Kramer. 2016. Keeping All the PIECES: Phylogenetically Informed Ex Situ Conservation of Endangered Species. PLoS ONE 11: e0156973.

Riebkes, J. L.**, R. S. Barak*, and A. T. Kramer. 2015. Evaluating seed viability in prairie forbs: a test of three methods Native Plants Journal 16(2):96-106.

Basey, A. C., J. B. Fant, and A. T. Kramer. 2015. Producing native plant materials for restoration: ten rules to collect and maintain genetic diversity. Native Plants Journal 16:37-53.

Kramer, A., D. Larkin, and J. B. Fant. 2015. Assessing potential seed transfer zones for five forb species in the Great Basin. Natural Areas Journal 35:174-189.

Barak, R. S., J. B. Fant, A. T. Kramer, and K. A. Skogen. 2015. Assessing the value of potential “native winners” for restoration of cheatgrass-invaded habitat. Western North American Naturalist.

Havens, K., A. Kramer, E. Guerrant. 2013. Getting Plant Conservation Right (Or Not): The Case of the United States. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 175: 3-10.

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.

Kramer, A.T. and K. Havens. 2009. Plant conservation genetics in a changing world. Trends in Plant Science 14(11):599-607.

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.

Graduate Students:
Rafael Urbina-Casanova (co-advised w/ Jeremie Fant)
Erin Snyder (co-advised w/ Becky Barak)
Angela McEnerney (co-advised w/ Louise Egerton-Warburton)
Emma Fetterly (co-advised w/ Jeremie Fant)
Melissa Duda (co-advised w/ Jeremie Fant)
Jacob Zeldin

Kramer Lab Find out more about collaborators, staff, students, and research underway in the Kramer lab here.

New Roots for Restoration Institute to learn more about this exciting collaborative effort led by the Danforth Plant Science Center, with University of Kansas, The Land Institute, and numerous other collaborators.

Plant Conservation Alliance Non-Federal Cooperator Committee The Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) is a public-private partnership of organizations that share the same goal: to protect native plants by ensuring that native plant populations and their communities are maintained, enhanced, and restored. PCA Non-Federal Cooperators include state agencies and private organizations interested in native plant conservation in the United States. The PCA Non-Federal Cooperator Committee (NFCC) partners with the PCA Federal Committee and others to advance plant conservation, promote native plant community restoration, and conduct plant conservation research. It represents the interests and ideas of Cooperator organizations and agencies, including botanic gardens, universities, educational groups, state agencies, businesses, professional societies, trade associations, native plant societies, and garden clubs. This Committee is chaired by the Chicago Botanic Garden. The NFCC works to advance plant conservation, native plant community restoration, and plant conservation research and advocacy at local, state, and national levels.

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. From 2008 - 2013 I was Executive Director of BGCI in the United States and helped develop numerous projects in support of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, including ex situ conservation of exceptional species, 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.

Center for Plant Conservation's 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. 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.