Darren Crayn
James Cook University

Professor Darren CraynDarren Crayn

Director, Australian Tropical Herbarium joint venture, James Cook University

See Professor Crayn’s full research profile here.

E: darren.crayn@jcu.edu.au

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

2019-2023 Tropical Mountain Plant Science (TroMPS) project. To secure the future of Australia’s climate-threatened tropical mountaintop plants we have built a multi-strategy ex-situ conservation reserve to ‘backup’ at-risk wild populations and support research, display and education. Our novel research on seedbanking strategies, genetic diversity and plant tolerance of extreme climates ensures that the reserve collections, distributed across multiple Botanic Gardens and Seed Banks along Australia’s east coast, incorporate high redundancy, are genetically and physiologically diverse, and climatically matched to wild habitat. Outcomes feed directly into policy and practice relating to the conservation and management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage area, as outlined in the State of the Wet Tropics 2023 report.

2020-2023 Plant pathogen monitoring in the Wet Tropics. Plant pathogens such as Phytophthora cinnamomi (phytophthora) and Austropuccinia psidii (myrtle rust) can cause dramatic, rapid declines in tropical forest biodiversity and function. This project focuses on surveillance and monitoring of dieback associated with phytophthora and myrtle rust in the high altitude cloud forests of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Outcomes feed directly, through partnerships with the Wet Tropics Management Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, into forest management policy and practice.

2020-2023 Integrating climate adaptation into rainforest restoration plantings. This project explores how species’ adaptation to climate impacts on forest restoration success in the Australian Wet Tropics. We are investigating whether collecting seed from populations in similar ecoclimatic settings to the planting site will improve seedling growth and survival. The results will be translated into practical advice for restoration practitioners about the importance of matching the provenance of seed source to planting sites, and opportunities for selecting provenances pre-adapted to predicted future climatic conditions at planting sites.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2008–present: Professor and Director, Australian Tropical Herbarium joint venture (CSIRO, Qld. Govt. Dept. Environment and Science, C/Wealth Dept. Environment, Energy and Climate Change, James Cook University), James Cook University.

Highest qualification

  • 1998: PhD in Plant Science, University of New South Wales.

Major prizes, medals and honours

  • 1999-2001: Mellon Fellowship, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
    2021: Cassowary Award for Climate Change Leadership (Wet Tropics Management Authority), Tropical Mountain Plant Science project.
    2023: Finalist, Eureka Prize (Excellence in Botanical Science), Tropical Mountain Plant Science project.

Current roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • National Myrtle Rust Working Group, member. An advisory and coordinating group with a focus on supporting best practice myrtle rust control and management across Australia. It provides information and support to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments and other members.
  • Myrtle Rust Environmental Impacts Working Group, member. A national working group that provides a foundation for a coordinated national environmental response to myrtle rust research and on-ground actions.
  • Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre, Coordinating Committee member. A partnership between Traditional Owners, the Queensland Government, CSIRO, James Cook University’s Cairns Institute, and the Australian Tropical Herbarium joint venture, to support Traditional Owners in the conservation, management, use and communication of their Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
  • Queensland Threatened Plant Network, member. Body for sharing information and resources for the understanding and conservation of threatened plant species in Queensland, and for developing priorities for action.
  • Queensland Botanic Gardens and Herbaria Network, member.
  • Mossman Botanic Garden Board, member.
  • Daintree Rainforest Observatory, Scientific Committee, member.
  • DivSeek International, Regional Hub for Australasia, Advisory Panel, member. A global community that connects, combines and communicates expertise among stakeholders engaged in the management and characterization of plant genetic resources.
  • International Plant Molecular Biology 2023 conference, organising committee, member.
  • Australian Biological Resources Study, Expert Panel, member. Commonwealth agency providing national leadership and support for the discovery, naming and classification of Australia’s living organisms.
  • Genomics for Australian Plants, Steering Committee, member. National consortium for developing genomics resources to enhance our understanding of the evolution and conservation of the Australian flora.
  • Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, Executive, member. Peak body comprising those administratively responsible for the major Australian and New Zealand Herbaria. The aim of CHAH is to promote all matters of interest to herbaria in Australasia and to increase cooperation and understanding between herbaria.
  • Flora Malesiana Foundation Board, member. Organisation governing the international project aiming to name, describe and inventory the complete vascular plant flora of Malesia, the region including Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.
  • Taxonomy Australia, member. Peak body representing taxonomy and systematics research in Australia, and custodian of the Decadal Plan for Taxonomy and Systematics.
    Australian Orchid Foundation, Research Committee, member. Foundation supporting scientific research on the biology of orchids.

My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP RLH, 2021-2027NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present