Todd graduated in 2006 from the University of South Australia with a BAppSc (Hons) in Biodiversity, Environmental, and Park Management. Since 2003 he has held research positions at the Botanic Gardens of Adelaide (Adelaide, South Australia), the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (ex. Department of Parks and Wildlife), Kings Park Botanic Garden, and The University of Western Australia (UWA) (Perth, Western Australia).
He completed a PhD in 2015 at UWA working on arid zone seed ecology and large-scale restoration. Todd is currently the Project Manager of the Restoration Seedbank (RSB) Initiative, a joint project between UWA, Kings Park Science, and BHP Billiton Western Australian Iron Ore. He is also Project Director of a Global Innovation Linkages (GIL) project titled “Eco-engineering solutions to improve mine-site rehabilitation outcomes”, a collaboration between nine industry, academic, and small-business partners from Western Australia and the United States.
The RSB is a major five-year, multi-disciplinary partnership that is focussed on developing the science, knowledge, and technical skills required to achieve proven, cost-effective, and scalable restoration of biodiverse native vegetation communities in the resource rich Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The RSB comprises four integrated research and development programs:
1. Seedbank Management and Curation: Programs to store and curate seeds in a secure facility that facilitates research and technology development.
2. Seedbank Science: Research to define seed storage behaviour and to tailor storage conditions for the short-term (months) and long-term (decades). Development of appropriate storage technology will protect seed quality and enhance seed useability in restoration.
3. Seed Capability and Enablement: Research to deliver ‘restoration on demand’ by defining the environmental cues required to break seed dormancy and deliver reliable methods for germination. New seed enhancement technologies will be developed that include polymer seed coating and extruded seed pellets. This program aims to provide a reliable and cost-effective supply of germinable seed for restoration of disturbed areas in the Pilbara.
4. Growing Medium: Define the growing niche by understanding soil physical, chemical and biological properties of re-made soils that limit seedling establishment in disturbed areas (e.g. altered soil moisture retention). This reduces the amount of seed required and the associated cost to industry and the community.
In an extension to the RSB programs, the recently funded GIL project will examine research on best-practice use of seeds in the Pilbara focusing in recruitment biology, with innovative, ecologically-guided engineering solutions focussed on the invention and modification of seed enhancement and direct seeding equipment needed to deliver seeds at scale in mine-site rehabilitation. The primary focus of the GIL project is to advance the application of the recent UWA-Kings Park Science flash-flaming invention that removes unwanted seed appendages preventing automated seeding to a wider range of species (e.g. Poaceae and Asteraceae spp. that provide much of the plant cover requirements in Australian and the United States rehabilitation programs), combined with additional seed enhancement technologies (priming, pelleting, and coating) for a wide range of species-specific scenarios currently required in rehabilitation programs. In unison with seed pre-treatment development, the project will design, construct, and test a prototype direct seeding machine(s) that can accommodate and efficiently deliver a wide range of pre-treated seeds that differ in shape, size, and weight, at the scale required.
Kings Park Science, Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
BHP Billiton Western Australian Iron Ore.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore
Greening Australia (WA)
University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources
Brigham Young University
University of Nevada (Las Vegas)
Natural Resource Conservation LLC
Funding and awards
- Hermon Slade Foundation Research Grant (2018-2020) $79,040. Titled “Novel approaches for harnessing native soil microbial communities to restore biodiverse degraded ecosystems in drylands”. Investigators: CI Miriam Muñoz-Rojas, PIs Todd Erickson and David Merritt.
- UWA Research Impact Grant (2018) $19,400. Titled “Catalysing the adoption of ‘restoration engineering’ in large-scale rehabilitation programs”. Investigators: Todd Erickson, David Merritt, Andrew Guzzomi, Miriam Munoz-Rojas.
- Australian Research Council Linkage Program (2017-2022) $675,400. Innovative seed technologies for restoration in a biodiversity hotspot. Investigators: CIs Richard Hobbs, Todd Erickson; PIs Jason Stevens, Matthew Madsen, Vernon Newton, Anthony Pekin, Alan Savage. Partners: The University of Western Australia, Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Bentonite Products WA Pty Ltd, Hanson Construction Materials Pty Ltd.
- Global Innovation Linkages Program (2017-2021) $1,314,652. Eco-engineering solutions to improve mine-site rehabilitation outcomes. Funded by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
- Mitsubishi Corporation Western Australia Innovator of the Year 2016, $25,000. EMERGING INNOVATION category winner for “Flash flaming of seeds to improve land restoration”. The University of Western Australia and Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority
- Global Connections Fund – Priming Grant (2016-2017) $7000. Testing the co-benefits of seed flaming, coating, and mechanised seed delivery in Australia and the United States of America.
- Restoration Seedbank Initiative (2013-2018) $5,036,538.
- Pilbara Seed Atlas Project (2008-2013) $800k +
2015 – PhD UWA – ‘Seed dormancy classification and germination traits of 89 arid zone species targeted for mine-site restoration in the Pilbara region of Western Australia’
2006 – Bachelor of Applied Science (1st class honours) (BAppSc) – Biodiversity, Environmental, and Park Management, University of South Australia. Honours thesis title: ‘Seed dormancy patterns and germination requirements of two nationally-threatened Compositae species, Bracyscome muelleri Sond. and Senecio megaglossus F. Muell., in semi-arid South Australia’
2003 – 2005 Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc) – Biodiversity, Environmental, and Park Management, University of South Australia.