California Botanical Society

2023 Botany Speaker Series

The CalBotSoc botany speaker series aims to showcase and promote the work of early career botanists. If you are an early career botanist interested in giving a talk of general interest to our members, please email us at

IMG_4826 Riley Scaff

Forrest_picture Forrest Freund

whole_plant_davidsonii01 Keir Morse

Thursday, March 9, 2023 7-8pm PT
Riley Scaff, Pitzer College

“Restoring an Iconic Joshua Tree Forest: Revegetation, natural recovery and soil ecology in a Mojave Desert burn area”

Fire has historically been an infrequent component of the Mojave Desert ecosystem. However, the proliferation of non-native invasive grasses has led to larger, more severe wildfires in the past several decades. In 2020, the Dome Fire devastated around 40,000 acres of dense joshua tree forest in the Mojave National Preserve, threatening a climate refuge for the joshua tree. I evaluated the efficacy of two common revegetation methods—seeding and outplanting—surveyed natural plant recovery on the burn area and investigated whether spatial heterogeneity in soil microbiota and nutrients affected outplant survivorship and growth.

Riley's research was supported by a 2021 Paul Silva Student Research grant.

Riley is a senior at Pitzer College pursuing a self-designed major combining biology and geology, but his primary interests are in plant ecology, restoration ecology and conservation. Riley is also interested in the interactions between living systems and larger earth systems, and how those linkages can be used to promote ecosystem resilience in a rapidly changing climate. When Riley is not hugging trees or looking at rocks, Riley is probably hiking, cycling local trails, or rock climbing!



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2023 Schedule of Talks

12-Jan: Keir Morse, California Botanic Garden

9-Feb: Forrest Freund, UC Berkeley

9-Mar: Riley Scaff, Pitzer College

13-Apr: Regan E. Dunn, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum


8-June: Regan E. Dunn, La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

13-Jul: Tadeo Ramirez Parada, UC Santa Barbara






View Recordings of Past Talks on our YouTube Channel:

Botany Speaker Series Playlist

California Botanical Society
c/o Jepson Herbarium
1001 Valley Life Sciences Building
Berkeley, California 94720-2465