Archive for the ‘Classes and Workshops’ category

Plant Biology Curriculum Development Project: Boyce Thomson Institute, Ithaca

May 1, 2012

The Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research

For 7-12th grade science teachers, and community college faculty

July 15-20, 2012

Teaching and Learning about Plant Science to protect the environment, improve agriculture, and advance human health.

For more information on this project CLICK HERE.

NY Botanical Garden Seminar, May 4: Phenotypic Plasticity and Plant Invasions.

April 30, 2012

“Examining the role of natural selection and phenotypic plasticity in plant invasions: a study of invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and native woodland knotweed (Persicaria virginiana)”

Kelly O’Donnell, PhD., Postdoctoral Fellow
Columbia University

Friday, May 4, 2011
11am-12 noon
Watson 302
Refreshments at 10:45

Kelly O’Donnell

Dissertation Abstract

Determining the role of natural selection in plant invasions

The ecological and evolutionary study of plant invasion processes is of exceeding importance in today’s changing environment. However, few studies have addressed the impact of natural selection on invasive plant species. While scientists have been able to detect selection in natural populations, most studies are not replicated in space or time leading to unreliable statistical estimates and tentative causal analyses. My objective is to further our knowledge of selection dynamics in the wild by working in the area of invasion biology through studies that combine both field and controlled settings. Biological invasions may be thought of as natural evolutionary experiments that scientists can use to study the effects of possibly novel and intense selection pressures on species that are in the process of aggressively expanding their range. It has been suggested that plant invasion affords us the ability to better assess the speed and predictability of local adaptation by natural selection, and that there are at least two mechanisms by which species can become invasive: through rapid local adaptation and/or through augmented phenotypic plasticity. It remains to be seen if either or both of these statements are generally true, as they have been rarely tested in the field. I have conducted a multi-year selection analysis on field populations of invasive Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and a native relative, woodland knotweed (Persicaria virginiana) and found strong, but temporally variable, natural selection. I then assessed the level of local adaptation in Japanese knotweed and compared it to woodland knotweed via a reciprocal transplant experiment. Despite the strong selection pressure (but perhaps because of the variability), there was little evidence of local adaptation in either species. Finally, I examined both species to measure their plasticity for traits relating to light acquisition in a common garden experiment. Both species had plastic trait responses to shade, but they followed different plasticity strategies. Woodland knotweed followed a “jack-of-all-trades” approach; it was able to thrive under either light treatment. Japanese knotweed seemed to use the opportunistic “master-of-some” strategy; its trait plasticity allowed it to take advantage of a better quality environment. Overall, there was no clear distinction between the native and invasive species studied. Both experience strong selection, but do not seem to locally adapt to it. Both possess trait plasticity that allows them to thrive in different light conditions, although the strategy is different.

Northeast Natural History Conference 2012 a Success

April 19, 2012

There were many interesting student and professional talks and posters at this year’s conference. The venue had rooms close together which made switching from one to the other easy, especially since we didn’t have to walk in from the front.The biggest challenge was the PowerPoint clicker ergonomics when speakers hit the forward button when they wanted to hit the laser pointer button.  When will projector companies ever figure that out?

For a list of the oral abstracts from the conference CLICK HERE.

For a list of the poster abstracts CLICK HERE.

NYFA judged the speakers for best poster, best student presentation and best overall presentation.  We will announce them on an upcoming post.  We look forward to 2013! – Steve Young.

The poster session and refreshment table.

The 2012 NYFA Field Trip and Workshop Schedule is Now Available

March 28, 2012

A great lineup is in store for this summer. The fun starts May 19 with a field trip to the woods and wetlands of the Taconic Hills of Washington County. Workshops feature  sedges, lichens, rushes, marine algae, aquatic plants and goldenrods. The workshops are sure to fill up fast so register early.  For details see the field trip and workshop tab on the NYFA website.

Happy students at the goldenrod and aster workshop at the Niagara Gorge last year.

Invasive Species Mapping Training to Take Place on Long Island

March 26, 2012

LIISMA – Long Island Invasive Species Management Area – iMap Invasives Spring Training

Where: Suffolk County Soil and Water Conservation District 423 Griffing Ave. Riverhead, NY 11901

Date: April 12, 2012 Time: 12-2:00 PM

Who: Anyone interested in mapping invasive species locations and management efforts.

Optional field trip: 10:30-11:30 AM at Cranberry Bog County Park

If you are interested in taking this training CLICK HERE to fill out and submit a form.

Learn about mapping invasive species, like Phragmites, in the field.

Ethnobotany Talk by Dr. Michael Balick, NYBG

March 12, 2012

If you have 90 minutes, take the time to watch this fascinating talk on botanical medicine and indigenous cultures that was presented on Long Island May 6, 2010 by Dr. Michael Balick of the Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden.

Smithsonian April Symposium – Transforming Biology Using Evolutionary Trees

March 8, 2012

From Dr. Warren Wagner – We are pleased to announce the line-up of speakers for the 2012 Smithsonian Botanical Symposium “Transforming 21st Century Comparative Biology using Evolutionary Trees,” which will be held at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, on April 20-21, 2012.

Over the last 20 years great progress has been made toward assembling a phylogeny of life on Earth and our expanding knowledge of evolutionary relationships is transforming 21st century biology. The Symposium will address the question: How do we put the knowledge of evolutionary relationships to work to better describe and understand the diversification of life on Earth? The invited speakers will cover a wide range of organisms and topics to illuminate how molecular phylogenetics can be used to understand evolutionary and ecological processes.

–    Scott V. Edwards, Harvard University, “Resolving the Tree of Life through phylogenomics and the multispecies coalescent model”
–    Charles F. Delwiche, University of Maryland, “Illuminating the origin of land plants with algal genomes”
–    James W. Horn, Department of Botany, Smithsonian Institution, “Diversification and structural innovation in Euphorbia”
–    Karen Osborn, Department of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian Institution, “Discoveries in the deep and their usefulness for studies of invertebrate evolution”
–    David D. Ackerly, University of California, Berkeley, “Traits, communities, and history: what do we learn from phylogenies?”
–    Richard Ree, The Field Museum, “Phylogeny and the evolution of floral diversity in Pedicularis (Orobanchaceae)”
–    Michael Donoghue, Yale University, “Adventures in plant phylogeny and prospects for the future”

Abstracts, additional details, and online registration are available on the Symposium Web site: The deadline for registration is 13 April 2012.