Conservation & Research at the Garden

Date: Saturday, August 29, 2020

Time: 4:30PM - 6:00PM

Instructor: Garden Conservation and Research Staff

Location: Zoom Meeting

Sliding Scale starting at $15

Register below

The mission of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is to conserve California native plants and habitats for the health and well-being of people and the planet. We do this, in part, by maintaining a beautiful collection of native plants for visitors to enjoy. You’re likely familiar with the splendor of our displays, but you may not know about the many projects that our Conservation and Research team works on both at the Garden and throughout the state. The Garden is involved in a wide variety of conservation and restoration projects and the department boasts a broad range of expertise.

Join us for a showcase of the department’s Director and Principal Investigators. You’ll hear from each of them about one of the many projects they currently work on. See below for details.


Denise Knapp, Ph.D.

Director of Conservation and Research

photo of Denise Knapp Ph.D.Central Coast plant communities are generally resilient to wildfires, but this disturbance can also create opportunities for plant invaders to take over and threaten our biodiversity, especially where equipment has been brought in to create firebreaks. Managing invasions and restoring habitat requires catching new infestations early, and identifying rare plant populations in need of protection. Director of Conservation Denise Knapp will discuss two large survey and mapping projects to inform post-fire habitat restoration in the Los Padres National Forest: one recently completed, covering nearly 250,000 acres in the Zaca and Jesusita Fire scars, and one happening now in the Thomas and Whittier Fire scars. In these remote backcountry areas, there is plenty of room for adventure and discovery!


Matt Guilliams, Ph.D.

Ken and Shirley Tucker Plant Systematist
Curator of the Clifton Smith Herbarium

Photo of Matt Guilliams, Ph.D.

Effective plant conservation sometimes involves going back to botany basics. In the case of the iconic Channel Islands endemic Island Mallow (Malva assurgentiflora), botanists were unsure if plants from the northern islands were different from those on the southern islands. While they debated, populations on all four Channel Islands on which the species occurs dwindled to near-nothing. Garden Plant Systematist and Herbarium Curator Matt Guilliams will discuss the Garden and partners’ multifaceted efforts to save this charismatic island endemic. From basic botany, to population genetics, to active restoration, Matt will report on how current efforts are bringing the species back from the brink.


Kristen Lehman, Ph.D.

Conservation Geneticist and Lab Manager

Photo of Kristen Lehman, Ph.D.

DNA is the fundamental storage unit of genetic information, and molecular techniques allow us to use laboratory tools to understand basic biodiversity and ecological questions that guide conservation actions. DNA barcoding is one of these techniques that can allow identification of species from obscure material, and can allow scientists to understand interactions of many species in a food web. Conservation Geneticist Kristen Lehman will discuss biodiversity discoveries from the teams of experts that have lead fieldwork to build a DNA reference library for the Channel Islands, as well as ongoing diet analyses for threatened and endangered animals on the Channel Islands.


Heather Schneider, Ph.D.

Rare Plant Biologist

Schneider, Heather, Ph.D.Saving rare plants is a big job and we can accomplish more when we work together. The Garden’s Rare Plant Biologist, Heather Schneider, will share stories from a large, collaborative project on California’s Channel Islands that encapsulates the mantra of the Garden’s Conservation and Research Team: understand, protect, restore. The goal of the project is to advance the conservation and recovery of 14 state and federally-listed plants on seven of the eight Channel Islands and the work ranges from surveys, to seed collections, to propagation and restoration outplanting. Join Heather as she shares the team’s progress to date and discusses future plans for preventing plant extinctions on the Channel Islands!



If you have trouble registering, please contact the Registrar at 805-682-4726 ext. 102

Channel Islands
Conservation & Restoration
Natural History