Exploration has been at the core of the Garden's mission since its founding—and is more urgent now than ever in the face of global environmental change. This symposium focuses on the vital role exploration plays in understanding the entwined relationships of plants to the well-being of humans and ecosystems, and the challenges for sustaining those relationships over time.
For the Garden's scientists, exploration takes place at all scales and in all places—from discovering genes for drought resistance in the lab, to identifying threatened species in the rain forest, to documenting vanishing traditional medicinal plant knowledge—empowering us to understand plants in whole new ways, both today and tomorrow.
Moderated by Dr. Barbara M. Thiers, Entwined will feature presentations by Garden scientists who work in locations as near as New York City and as far-flung as the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.
SPEAKERS AND TOPICS:
Barbara M. Thiers, Ph.D., Moderator
Patricia K. Holmgren Director, William and Lynda Steere Herbarium
How a Garden Grows a Herbarium
A herbarium, as with all scientific and cultural collections, is meant to be a record of past and present, which is used to better understand our world and how it changes over time. Herbaria acquire specimens at a faster rate than most other scientific and cultural collections, which requires an intense level of organization and management, and a bold institutional vision and commitment. Over the past 125 years, The William and Lynda Steere Herbarium has grown steadily in size and breadth, and owes its preeminence to careful stewardship by The New York Botanical Garden, and to the quality and relevance of the scientific research the collection documents.
Barbara Ambrose, Ph.D.
Associate Curator of Plant Genomics
Building Beauty: Exploring the Genomic Landscape of Plant Biodiversity
Plant exploration occurs at many levels and can lead to the discovery of new species to the discovery of new genes. In plant genomics we are discovering the genes that underlie plant diversity particularly those that are important for building leaves, flowers and fruits. These structures come in a myriad of forms, however, we are discovering what the common genes or building blocks are for each of these structures as well as how the diversity of their form may be generated.
James Lendemer, Ph.D.
Assistant Curator, Institute of Systematic Botany
Cryptogams: The Next Frontier for Biodiversity Discovery and Conservation
Cryptogams (mosses, fungi, and algae) comprise millions of species and include some of the most remarkable and improbable products of evolution. While scientists have studied these organisms for centuries, recent advances have made it possible to harness vast resources from the field, the museum and the laboratory. The result is an exciting new frontier in scientific discovery and conservation that lies at the roots of the tree of life, beneath our feet and through a hand lens.
Gregory Plunkett, Ph.D.
Director and Curator, Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics
Conservation of Biocultural Diversity in Vanuatu
The South Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu contains vast areas of rich forest and unexplored ecosystems. Yet despite its widespread recognition as a conservation priority, virtually nothing is known about the islands biodiversity. Vanuatu is also exceptionally rich in cultural diversity, with over 100 indigenous languages along with a traditional lifestyle dependent on plants for both subsistence and cultural practices. Tragically, pressures from development, globalization, and climate change threaten to wipe out much of this diversity. NYBG is leading an international team of researchers helping to document and conserve Vanuatu's biocultural heritage, providing a model for promoting the continued survival of the Pacific Islands' plants, habitats, and human cultures.
Robin Sleith, Ph.D. Candidate
Ballast, Boats and Bobbers: Investigating an Aquatic Invasive Macroalga in the United States
Invasive species threaten biodiversity and cause myriad problems for humans. In this talk, graduate fellow Robin Sleith shares his work on a particularly aggressive aquatic invasive species, starry stonewort (Nitellopsis obtusa). Together with his advisor, Dr. Kenneth G. Karol, Robin has been using chemical, molecular, and modeling information to ask: what makes an invasive species thrive, and what can be done to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species?
Ina Vandebroek, Ph.D.
Matthew Calbraith Perry Assistant Curator of Economic Botany and Caribbean Program Director, Institute of Economic Botany
Connecting the Dots: Herbaria and Exploring the Links between Plants & People
The collection of plant specimens is the foundation of ethnobotanical research into the relationships between plants and people. Collecting and studying herbarium specimens provides scientists a better understanding of the rich cultural diversity of names and uses that local people attribute to these plants. Another interesting use of herbarium specimens is tracking invasive plant species over space and time, and documenting their potential usefulness for local communities. These efforts support the conservation of biological and cultural diversity by providing historic and contemporary information on which to base wise policy decisions.
After the symposium, attendees are invited to the Ross Gallery for a preview of What in the World is a Herbarium?, a special exhibition celebrating the Steere Herbarium as the centerpiece of the Garden's world-renowned research program. Tours of the Herbarium will be offered as well.
Entwined and What in the World is a Herbarium?, ARE MADE POSSIBLE IN PART BY THE INSTITUTE OF MUSEUM AND LIBRARY SERVICES [MA-10-15-0133-15].