February 14, 2022

Backgrounder | About Carla D’Antonio, Ph.D.


Keynote Speaker and Award Honoree at Ninth Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium on March 5

Carla D’Antonio, Ph.D.

Santa Barbara, Calif. February 14, 2022 Carla D’Antonio, Ph.D. is the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium and the recipient of the 2022 Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Pritzlaff Conservation Award, which will be presented at the Symposium.   

The public is invited to attend this virtual event, “After the Fires: Recovering California’s Wild Spaces,” held Saturday, March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., which features scientists, biologists, and land managers from the Central Coast and beyond. Advance registration is required and costs $25 (students with valid school IDs are free).

Dr. D’Antonio’s talk is “When and Why Would We Need Post-Fire Restoration.” Eight other speakers present topics about the impact of wildfire on California wildspaces, including impacts on plants and animals, approaches to habitat restoration, regional efforts to build resilience, and more. The symposium concludes with an audience Q & A with all the panelists and discussion of actions that can be taken to address these challenges.

About Dr. Carla D’Antonio

By studying how phenomena such as non-native species invasions affect ecosystems, Dr. Carla D’Antonio provides guidance to land managers and restoration practitioners while searching for generalities that advance the field of ecology.

At the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), Dr. Antonio teaches Ecology and Management of California Wildlands, Foundations of Ecosystem Restoration, and Fire Ecology. 

She teaches courses that allow students to evaluate real-world ecosystem management problems and search for conservation solutions. Her field course involves field trips each week to visit a variety of ecosystem to take measurements and meet with managers to hear firsthand about the challenges and conflicts they face balancing human uses with species conservation. On RateMyProfessor, 100 percent of the students said they would take her classes again; top tags include “inspirational,” “amazing lectures,” and “caring.”

Dr. D’Antonio serves on a diverse array of at least nine committees, including the oversight committees for the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) and UCSB Natural Reserve System, and the executive committee for the Center for Spatial Studies.

She helped initiate Channel Islands National Park’s ecosystem restoration program. Recent collaborative work and mentorship include a number of projects in the Santa Barbara region looking at post-fire recovery and restoration. Topics include chaparral responses to fire and exotic grass invasion, recovery following repeat fires, and recovery of the endemic bigcone douglas fir following fire and drought.

Dr. Antonio is author and co-author of numerous book chapters addressing habitat management and restoration, including: “Exotic plant species as problems and solutions in ecological restoration,” “Fire as a restoration tool,” “Applying ecological concepts to the management of widespread grass invasions,” “Tipping the balance in the restoration of native plants,” and “Chaparral restoration.”

She has published over 180 papers and has been cited 37,832 times. Her 1992 paper addressing exotic grasses, the grass-fire cycle, and global change has been cited 3,568 times. It was informed by her work looking at a variety of alien perennial grasses as a Stanford Post-Doctoral Scholar at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and looking at cheatgrass invasion in the western United States as part of the USDA–ARS Exotic and Invasive Weeds Program in Reno, Nevada.

For further information about her background, teaching, and research, visit: https://www.eemb.ucsb.edu/people/faculty/dantonio and https://www.es.ucsb.edu/people/carla-dantonio.

For information about her Vegetation Ecology Group Lab, visit: https://veglab.eemb.ucsb.edu.

About the Symposium and Pritzlaff Award

The annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium, established in 2012, addresses topics that are critical to environmental conservation in the region, as well as nationally and internationally. It returns after a one-year gap in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic. 

Established in 2007, the Honorable John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Award recognizes conservation achievements in California and around the world. It honors the former Garden Trustee’s life-long commitment to conservation and serves to inspire others to understand the importance of conservation and to take action.  Recent winners include Richard Louv, author and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network (2020); Gretchen Daily, Ph.D., Stanford professor and founder of the Natural Capital Project (2019); and Daniel Simberloff, Ph.D., island researcher and professor at the University of Tennessee (2016). (Full list at https://sbbotanicgarden.org/conservation/our-honorees/

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About Santa Barbara Botanic Garden: As the first botanic garden in the nation to focus exclusively on native plants, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has dedicated nearly a century of work to better understand the relationship between plants and people. Growing from 13 acres in 1926 to today’s 78 acres, the grounds now include more than 5 miles of walking trails, an herbarium, seed bank, research labs, library, and a public native plant nursery. Amid the serene beauty of the Garden, teams of scientists, educators, and horticulturists remain committed to the original spirit of the organization’s founders – conserve California native plants and habitats to ensure they continue to support life on the planet and can be enjoyed for generations to come.

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