US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Francis F. Kilkenny

Research Biologist
322 E Front Street Suite 401
United States

Phone: 208-373-4376
Fax: 208-373-4391
Contact Francis F. Kilkenny

Current Research

I study the adaptation of native grass and tree populations to local climates, and use these data to develop seed transfer guidelines and model the impacts of changing climates on these species.

Highlight study:

Bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) reciprocal transplant study to test the efficacy of previously established seed transfer zones and local adaption to widely varying climates. The study is testing 78 bluebunch populations representing 9 seed zones across 4 level three ecoregions. Common gardens are being planted in the fall of 2014 at 16 sites that range across a wide variety of climatic conditions, over 20,000 plants will be planted for this study. Morphological and reproductive measurements will be taken twice a year at each garden from 2015-2018. Additionally, physiological response measurements such as cold tolerance and photosynthetic rates will be taken in greenhouse and field conditions at some garden sites. All populations involved in the study will used in a genetic marker study to determine the phylogeography and genetic structure of bluebunch populations within the study region.

Kilkenny, Francis F. 2015. Genecological approaches to predicting the effects of climate change on plant populations. Natural Areas Journal. 35(1):152-164.

St. Clair, John Bradley; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Johnson, Richard C.; Shaw, Nancy L.; Weaver, George. 2013. Genetic variation in adaptive traits and seed transfer zones for Pseudoroegneria spicata (bluebunch wheatgrass) in the northwestern United States. Evolutionary Applications. 6(6): 933-948.

Research Interests

My research interests include the ecological and evolutionary impacts of climate change; the evolution of local adaptation in native and invasive plant species; pollination biology of herbaceous and long-lived clonal plants; the use of ecological genetics in plant community restoration.

Finch, Deborah M.; Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Reeves, Matt C.; Ott, Jeffrey E.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Butler, Jack L.; Ott, Jacqueline P.; Pinto, Jeremy R.; Ford, Paulette L.; Runyon, Justin B.; Rumble, Mark A.; Kitchen, Stanley G. 2016. Rangeland drought: Effects, restoration, and adaptation [Chap. 8]. In: Vose, James M.; Clark, James S.; Luce, Charles H.; Patel-Weynard, Toral, eds. Effects of drought on forests and rangelands in the United States: A comprehensive science synthesis. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-93b. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington Office. p. 155-194.

Shock, Clinton C.; Feibert, Erik B. G.; Rivera, Alicia; Saunders, Lamont D.; Shaw, Nancy; Kilkenny, Francis F. 2016. Irrigation requirements for seed production of five Lomatium species in a semiarid environment. HortScience. 51(10): 1270-1277.

Dumroese, R. Kasten; Luna, Tara; Richardson, Bryce A.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Runyon, Justin B. 2015. Conserving and restoring habitat for Greater Sage-Grouse and other sagebrush-obligate wildlife: The crucial link of forbs and sagebrush diversity. Native Plants Journal. 16(3): 276-299.

Past Research

My Ph.D. dissertation in 2011 focused on the evolution and population genetics of the invasive vine Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) in eastern North America, where I found that populations at the northern margin of the invaded range are evolving faster growth rates. I have also studied pollination and natural selection in populations of the American bell flower (Campanulastrum americana).

Kilkenny, Francis F.; Galloway, Laura F. 2016. Evolution of marginal populations of an invasive vine increases the likelihood of future spread. New Phytologist. 209: 1773-1780.

Evans, Gregory A.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Galloway, Laura F. 2013. Evolution of competitive ability within Lonicera japonica's invaded range. International Journal of Plant Sciences. 174(5): 740-748.

Kilkenny, Francis F.; Galloway, Laura F. 2013. Adaptive divergence at the margin of an invaded range. Evolution. 67(3): 722-731.

Beans, Carolyn M.; Kilkenny, Francis F.; Galloway, Laura F. 2012. Climate suitability and human influences combined explain the range expansion of an invasive horticultural plant. Biological Invasions. 14: 2067-2078.

Kilkenny, Francis F.; Galloway, Laura F. 2008. Reproductive success in varying light environments: direct and indirect effects of light on plants and pollinators Oecologia. 155: 247–255.



  • University of Virginia, Ph.D. Biology 2011
  • Humboldt State University, Certificate Of Study Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing 2004
  • University of California at Santa Cruz, B.A. Environmental Studies 2000

Professional Experience

  • Research Biologist, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station
    2013 - Current
  • Research Geneticist, USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station
    2011 - 2013

Professional Organizations

  • Natural Areas Association, Member (2016 - Current)
  • Society for Ecological Restoration, Member (2016 - Current)
  • America Society Of Naturalists, Member (2010 - Current)
  • Society For The Study Of Evolution, Member (2010 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • Five Year Service Award, 2016
    In recognition of Five Years of service in the Government of the United States of America. Given by USFS RMRS
  • USDA Certificate of Merit, 2016
    For excellent assistance in conveying information about the National Seed Strategy and incorporating the strategy in research, science plans, grant proposals, technology transfer and GBNPP funding efforts. Given by USFS RMRS
  • USDA Certificate of Merit, 2016
    For superior performance in leading the Great Basin Native Plant Project, including incorporating it into the Great Basin Consortium, co-leading the GBC conference, and developing significant incoming funds and outgoing agreements. Given By USFS RMRS
  • USDA Certificate of Appreciation, 2016
    Thank you for your contribution as an author of "Understanding the Impacts of Drought on the Nation's Forests and Grasslands...", which received a 2016 Chief's Award for the category of Sustaining Forests and Grasslands. Given by USFS
  • USDA Certificate of Merit, 2015
    For superior performance in developing knowledge and delivering science to stakeholders of the RMRS Grasslands, Shrublands and Desert Ecosystems Sciences Program. Given by USFS RMRS
  • Early Career Scientist Publication, 2014
    For "Adaptive Divergence at the Margin of an Invaded Range." Given by USFS RMRS
  • USDA Certificate of Merit, 2013
    For superior performance and leadership in meeting the mission of the Grasslands, Shrublands and Desert Ecosystem Science Program Fiscal Year 2013. Given by USFS RMRS

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


New Seed Zones for Bluebunch Wheatgrass Tested

New seed zones for bluebunch wheatgrass will help local, state, and federal land managers in the Interior Northwest to determine sources of blue ...


The Great Basin Native Plant Project

Demand for native plant seed is increasing, especially in federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Manageme ...


Last updated on : 12/06/2018