Kyle Gunther

Joined: Aug 14, 2016 Last Active: Aug 03, 2020


I am a plant biologist and a masters candidate in Dr. Lluvia Flores-Renteria's lab ( at San Diego State University (SDSU). I am currently using an integrative approach to assess the conservation status of the Mission Manzanita (Xylococcus bicolor). I am using a combination of habitat suitability models, population genetics, and leaf morphometrics to look for significant, population-level differences in hopes of establishing conservation units. We plan to communicate our findings to land managers and conservationists in a jargon-free manner. I am also very fortunate to work as the collections manager at the SDSU Herbarium under the supervision of Dr. Michael G. Simpson, and we are busy digitizing our entire collection under an NSF grant (check out our collection on

Between my undergrad and grad school, I gained valuable experience working as a field botanist in the Santa Monica Mountains, as well as a caretaker for the Zzyzx Desert Studies Center ran by the CSU Desert Studies Consortium. Check out the project I started as a Desert Docent at Zzyzx; it's amazing how much biodiversity is in such a small, seemingly 'empty' place out in the middle of the Mojave Desert (

My undergrad was completed at Cal State Fullerton (CSUF), where I had the pleasure of working in Dr. Joel Abraham's lab ( where I designed and executed a greenhouse study looking at soil legacy effects of Sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) on 3 California native plants: CA poppy (Eschscholzia californica), Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and Purple needle grass (Stipa pulchra). Soil in which fennel had previously grown in significantly reduced the biomass of all CA natives compared to control soil, even when fertilizer was supplemented back into the soil.
I also worked in Dr. Joshua Der's lab as part of the Southern California Ecosystems Research Program (SCERP; where I got my first experience in designing and executing a population genetics study looking at the host-specificity of the desert mistletoe (Phoradendron californicum) in the Mojave Desert.
The 3rd lab was Dr. Darren Sandquist's, where I designed and pitched a project to faculty where we were trying to make the campus a living-lab and turn small portions of CSUF into small representative CA plant assemblages that classes could utilize.

After graduate school, I hope to apply all that I have learned towards a career working alongside the incredible CA flora.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading!

Kyle Gunther

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