Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2015 v61 No 4 WinterActions

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 In This Issue...

Student reps’ guide to opportuni-
ties for students in 2016.... p.151

Conservation challenges in  

Canada’s Nisku Prairie.... p. 140

What are the best practices on 

interacting with NSF?... p. 131

PLANTS Grant Recipients and Mentors Gather at Botany 2015!


BSA President Richard Olmstead on Increased International Cooperation in Botany




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                                                                    Fall 2015 Volume 61 Number 4


Editorial Committee  

Volume 61

Kathryn LeCroy 



Environmental Sciences 

University of Virginia 

Charlottesville, VA 22904

L.K. Tuominen




Department of Natural Science 

Metropolitan State University 

St. Paul, MN  55106 

Daniel K. Gladish




Department of Biology &  

The Conservatory 

Miami University  

Hamilton, OH  45011

Carolyn M. Wetzel 



Biology Department 

Division of Health and  

Natural Sciences 

Holyoke Community College 

Holyoke, MA 01040

Melanie Link-Perez  



Department of Biology  

Armstrong State University 

Savannah, GA  31419

From the Editor

With this December 2015 issue, I am delighted 

to unveil a new look and a new logo for the Plant 

Science Bulletin. Botany is a dynamic, evolving sci-

ence and it is fitting for the Plant Science Bulletin-

to continually grow and change together with the 

field and with its readers. The BSA staff and I have 

been working hard to develop a new layout to fit 

within a larger 7 x 10-inch format. It is our hope 

that this new format will be attractive, improve 

readability of the popular print version of the PSB

and facilitate digital access of PSB content.

To accompany this new layout for the print PSB

we will be redesigning the Plant Science Bulletin 

webpage (

tions/plant-science-bulletin.html), where you can 

easily access the most recent issue of the PSB, the 

PSB archives, as well as recent BSA news items and 

books currently available for review.  Rob Brandt 

and the BSA team will be adding additional web 

features in the coming months. Check the PSB 

page often for updates and for newly available 


Within this issue, I would like to draw your atten-

tion to valuable resources for both professional 

and student members. You will find an in-depth 

article (page 131) about the policies and proce-

dures at the National Science Foundation with tips 

for preparing grant proposals. In the Student Sec-

tion (page 151), the student representatives pres-

ent an extensive list of grants and awards, as well as 

outreach, training, and professional opportunities 

aimed primarily at students. Finally, the Botanical 

Society of America is calling for nominations and 

applications for several awards that are relevant to 

members in all stages of their careers (page 130).  I 

hope that you consider applying for these awards 

or nominating your worthy colleagues.


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The International Botanist - Remarks by President-Elect Dick Olmstead ................ 120

Public Policy Notes .................................................................................................................................... 126

Economic Botany Notes ......................................................................................................................... 128

Upcoming Award Deadlines .................................................................................................................. 130


Information about NSF Programs, Policies, and Proposals: What, Where, Why, How? ........131

Nisku Prairie: An Aspen Parkland Remnant in Central Alberta, Canadian 

Conservation Challenge ......................................................................................................................... 140



Memoriam Fred Sack (1947-2015) ............................................................................................144

Personalia - Dr. Edward L. Schneider Named President and Executive Director  

of The Botanical Research Institute of Texas .......................................................................... 145

Louisiana State University Names Its Herbarium for Shirley C. Tucker  .................... 145


PlantingScience Awarded $2.9M National Science Foundation Grant ..........................148

 USA Science & Engineering Festival, BSA Seeking Local D.C.  

Area Booth Volunteers   .......................................................................................................................... 149

What Is QUBES? And What Can It Do for You?  ...................................................................... 150

Next-Generation Careers: Innovations in Environmental Biology Education  .......... 150


Round-up of Opportunities for Students ....................................................................................... 151


Ecological ....................................................................................................................................................... 158

Systematics ................................................................................................................................................... 160

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The International Botanist

Remarks by President-Elect Dick Olmstead


(Note: The video and slides from this lecture 

from the Botany 2015 conference can be found 

on the BSA’s Botany Conference YouTube chan-

nel at


had an epiphany of sorts one rainy night in 

2009 during a long treacherous microbus 

ride while conducting fieldwork in the Peru-

vian Andes. A British woman seated next to 

me explained why she had spent the last six 

months volunteering and traveling in rural 

Peru by saying that it wasn’t the immediate 

experience that was most important to her, 

but rather the lasting impact on her life of ex-

periencing the culture of a foreign country, 

about which she would never feel the same 

again.  Months later, I realized just how true 

this is. Ostensibly the reason for my travel 

was to collect plants for my research, but after 

the passage of time, the memories that stayed 

with me were of people and places. Ironical-

ly, my personal history of international travel 

began in Peru 41 years earlier as an exchange 

student living in Lima and taking advantage 

of the opportunity to travel and learn about 

the country.  

As my career as an academic botanist devel-

oped, that interest in travel served me well as 

research interests in plant phylogenetics led 

me to visit far-flung parts of the world and 

to interact with scientists from around the 

world. I would like to relate two of those expe-

riences, because I think they are illustrative of 

the tremendous advantages that international 

cooperation can yield.  

International Research  

Collaboration on Verbenaceae

  Over the past 13 years, I have been involved 

in research on the verbena family. This work 

has taken me and/or my students to more than 

a dozen countries. Botanists in each country 

helped negotiate legal and cultural barriers. In 

return, field trips with host country botanists 

resulted in the collection of hundreds of plant 

specimens for their herbaria and ours. But 

equally importantly, the personal connections 

that enhance the outcomes of the research 

afford a marvelous opportunity for cultural 

education of everyone involved. The tangible, 

scientific outcomes of this project, which is 

still ongoing, include collaboration among 18 

scientists from five countries in research pub-

lications; Ph.D. degrees to six students from 

five countries, whose research benefited from 

Botany 2015 

Presidential Address: 

Richard Olmstead: The 

International Botanist

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the collaboration; international research ex-

change opportunities for three grad students; 

numerous undergraduate participants; and 

presentations at four international confer-

ences (as well as our Botany meetings). I ben-

efitted from their expertise and knowledge of 

the local plants, while my collaborators ben-

efitted from the opportunity to participate 

in high-impact publications (including sev-

eral in the American Journal of Botany) that 

emerged from the collaboration (Figure 1).  

Figure 1. Dick Olmstead with Pedro Estra-

da, María Múlgura, and Alejandrina Alaria in 

Jujuy, Argentina.


University of Washington – Sichuan 

University Undergraduate Exchange 

in Environmental Sciences  

With support from the NSF and the Univer-

sity of Washington, in 2000, we initiated an 

exchange program for undergraduates in the 

environmental sciences. Involving students in 

research was central to this program. Today, 

nearly 500 students have participated in the 

exchange. My active participation was only in 

the first few years, during which time a bota-

nist also was active on the Sichuan University 


Two students stand out in my mind from 

among many who have gone on to profession-

al careers in science. Yuan Yao-Wu was among 

the first cohort of Chinese students to enter 

the program (Figure 2). After spending his ex-

change year working in my lab in Seattle, he 

returned to China to complete his senior the-

sis at the Institute of Botany in Beijing before 

coming back to the University of Washington 

for his Ph.D. (the first of many in that cohort 

to complete a Ph.D.). Yuan was an invited 

speaker in the BSA Presidents’ symposium at 

Botany 2013 and is now Assistant Professor at 

the University of Connecticut. 

Figure 2. Yuan Yao-Wu in Sichuan, China 



Rachel Meyer was in the second cohort of 

UW students to study in Sichuan and partici-

pated in a student-led ethnobotanical study of 

the ethnic minority Nuosu people in a remote 

village in southern Sichuan (Figure 3). She 

returned to Seattle to participate in research 

in my lab before completing a Ph.D. degree at 

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the New York Botanical Garden on the origin 

of domestication of eggplant. As a grad stu-

dent, Rachel was a student representative on 

the BSA Board of Directors.  She continued 

research on the genetics of domestication as a 

postdoc and is now an AAAS Fellow working 

as an intern at the National Science Founda-

tion. Both Yao-Wu and Rachel attribute their 

choice of career track and initial successes 

to the opportunities made available to them 

through this international exchange program. 

For both of them, participation in, and sup-

port from, the BSA also helped launch their 


Figure 3. Rachel Meyer with Nuoso woman in 

Sichuan, China (2003).

As I considered what mark I might be able 

to make as President of the BSA, I wondered 

how representative my experiences were 

among BSA members and if there was any-

thing the Society could do to advance interna-

tional collaboration in science and education. 

In an effort to quantify this, with the help of 

Membership Director Heather Cacanindin, 

I asked members to fill out short, five-ques-

tion surveys about their experiences with in-

ternational collaboration. With background 

information from the membership directory, 

I devised three questionnaires: one for pro-

fessional botanists living in the United States, 

one for students, and one for international 

members. The surveys also provided an op-

portunity for members to comment individ-

ually. I will present the results of the surveys 

here and have forwarded the results, along 

with the many comments, to the BSA Com-

mittee on International Affairs.  

For a little background, I sorted the mem-

bership lists to see what our international 

membership looks like. While our member-

ship base is still mostly from the U.S., 27% of 

our members are from other countries. Our 

neighbors to the north [Canada] account 

for another 4%, leaving 23% from outside of 

North America (Figure 4).  Most of the re-

maining are from Europe, Asia, and South 


Figure 4. BSA international membership.

A total of 234 BSA members answered the 

survey, including 152 U.S. professionals, 48 

foreign members, and 34 students. In each 

survey, most questions asked about interac-

tions that had occurred in the last few years 

(2012-2015), in order to keep the answers 

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from respondents of different ages compa-

rable. Bear in mind that, while many mem-

bers responded, this is not a scientific survey 

and there may be biases inherent in whether 

members responded or not and in how they 

interpreted the questions.

The first questions in each survey asked about 

frequency of travel. Over 75% of professional 

members from the U.S. had traveled to a for-

eign country for research purposes in that in-

terval, with a mode of two to five trips in the 

designated time period (Figure 5). Of those 

trips, approximately 75% involved collabo-

ration with host country scientists. In con-

trast, fewer than 40% of foreign members had 

traveled to the U.S. to participate in research 

(Figure 6). Nearly 60% of our student mem-

bers had traveled to a foreign country for a 

research visit. I am impressed with the level 

of international collaboration among society 

members in the U.S., but perhaps we could do 

more to encourage our foreign members to 

visit our labs as part of our international col-


Figure 5. International collaboration of BSA 

members as measured by the number of times trav-

eled to a foreign country for research purposes (0, 1, 

2-5, or >5) and the percentage of trips that involved 

collaboration with scientists from the host country 

(0%, 1-20%, 21-50%, >50%).

Our U.S. professional members also actively 

engage foreign collaborators in their research 

publications, with nearly 80% publishing with 

co-authors from outside the U.S. during the 

last 3 years (Figure 7). Nearly one third of 

these members shared authorship with for-

eign scientists on half or more of their papers!  

Figure 6. BSA members’ collaborative travel 


Figure 7. BSA members’ collaborative publica-

tions publications measured by the percentage 

of publications with international co-authors 

(0%, 1-20%, 21-50% or >50%) and occurrence 

of international co-authors (yes or no).

Slightly over half of our foreign members have 

published with scientists from the U.S. during 

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that same interval. One of the frequent com-

ments from foreign members was that they 

joined the BSA to take advantage of oppor-

tunities for collaboration with scientists in 

the U.S. However, in response to the survey, 

over 60% of foreign members said that BSA 

membership has not helped them to become 

involved in international collaboration (Fig-

ure 8). I believe the BSA can do more to foster 

these interactions


With many members thinking about attending 

the International Botanical Congress (2017 in 

Shenzhen, China), I was interested in mem-

bers’ participation in international confer-

ences outside of the U.S.  Approximately 70% 

of U.S. professional members have attended 

one or more international conferences in the 

past 3 years and more than half of foreign 

members have traveled to the U.S. to attend a 

conference during that time (Figure 9). I was 

impressed to see that nearly half of our stu-

dent members had attended a conference in 

a foreign country during their time as a grad 


The value of international research exchang-

es is undeniable. A brief visit can be valuable


Figure 9. International travel to conferences by 

BSA members including times traveled  (0, 1, 

2-5, >5) and occurrence of travel by U.S. profes-

sional members and foreign members (yes or no).

for establishing contacts and emerging collab-

orations, but having time to work together is 

often essential for collaborations to fully de-

velop. In our survey, nearly two thirds of all 

U.S. professionals report that they, or some-

one in their lab, has participated in a research 

exchange, either hosting a foreign scientist or 

being hosted in a foreign institution (Figure 

10). More than half of international members 

report participation in similar exchange with 

a U.S. institution. Unfortunately, fewer than 

15% of our students have had that opportunity.

Having the opportunity for international col-

laboration is a particularly valuable part of 

graduate student development. There is no 

better way to understand the impact of inter-

national collaboration than to experience it 

oneself. I was pleased by the response to the 

student survey to learn that two thirds of the 

respondents have been encouraged by their 

advisors to take advantage of opportunities 

for international collaboration (Figure 11). In 

addition to research exchanges, opportunities 

for foreign travel for special training or educa-

tional opportunities are available for students 

(e.g., Organization for Tropical Studies cours-

Society News

 Figure 8. BSA membership’s ability to help in 

international collaboration.

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es). Nearly 40% of student respondents have 

taken advantage of such opportunities. 

Figure 10. BSA members’ experience with re-

search exchanges, including participation of U.S 

professional members (yes or no), graduate stu-

dents (yes or no) and foreign members (yes or no).

Increasingly, science is an international en-

terprise in which the network of connections 

throughout the world can, if we choose to take 

advantage of it, enhance everything that we 

do as individual scientists. International col-

laboration in science and education seemed 

to come naturally to me, but I realize that not 

everyone has had the same opportunities that 

I have had or has been encouraged to take ad-

vantage of them when they do occur. This is 

where I think there is a role that the BSA can 

play to help promote and facilitate interna-

tional cooperation in research and education.  

What can the BSA do?  In keeping with the 

rapid globalization of botanical research, 

the Society should do more to embrace a 

leadership role in botanical research and 

education worldwide. I think there are-

several things we can do to achieve this: 

•  Actively grow our international membership

•  Partner with botanical societies in other 


•  Provide a clearinghouse for information on 

opportunities in research and education

•  Promote international exchange and training 

programs for students

•  Facilitate contacts among botanists with 

common interests  

•  Encourage member participation in interna-

tional conferences

I was struck by the survey comments from 

international members indicating that they 

hoped membership in the BSA would lead to 

research connections, but also by the results 

that show membership has fostered such col-

laboration for relatively few of them. If we can 

help our members to connect and build their 

own international networks, we can make a 

difference in our science and in the careers of 

those who practice it.  

Reflecting back on that long microbus ride in 

the Peruvian Andes, I realize that the personal 

friendships I have made and the connection 

to places and their histories have created em-

pathy for the issues confronting countries and 

cultures around the world. The experiences 

have not just made me a better international 

botanist, but a better international citizen.  

Society News

Figure 11. BSA members’ levels of encourage-

ment for international collaborations.

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Public Policy Notes

The BSA Public Policy 



his year the BSA Public Policy Commit-

tee has been hard at work trying to bring 

policy awareness and engagement to the BSA 

membership. We surveyed members of the 

BSA during Spring 2015 to understand how to 

better provide our membership with the pol-

icy updates they need. We received responses 

from 195 BSA members!

As a result, we found that a majority of you 

want to be more involved in Public Policy, but 

are unsure what our committee does and/or 

how to become more engaged (Figure 1). As 

a follow-up to your survey responses, we’ve 

summarized our findings in this edition of the 

Plant Science Bulletin. Here, we provide infor-

mation about the Public Policy Committee, 

how to become more involved, and a sneak 

peek at upcoming changes we have proposed, 

including a new funding opportunity!

As for all BSA committees, the mission of the 

BSA Public Policy Committee is outlined un-

der section XII of the society policies. The  

Figure 1. Awareness of the BSA Public Policy 


Public Policy Committee is broadly defined, 

but generally charged with “addressing is-

sues… to effect change, educate and influence 

decision makers, and provide input from the 

BSA perspective on public policy documents, 

strategic plan documents from federal agen-

cies, and reports requesting input from plant 

biologists.“ We work closely with other soci-

eties regarding policy, advise the BSA Board, 

encourage members to present botany to the 

public (including legislators and the general 

public), and provide policy impact resources 

for new activities to the BSA Board. 

In order to make our impact more visible to 

membership, we have taken the results from 

our survey to heart and correspondingly up-

dated our activities.

How Often Would You Like to Be 

Informed About BSA Public Polic 


A majority of you indicated that you would 

like to be contacted either monthly (35%) or 

quarterly (45%) regarding updates from the 

Public Policy Committee, and we’d like to ex-

By Marian Chau (Lyon Arboretum Universi-

ty of Hawai‘i at Manoa) and Morgan Gostel 

(George Mason University),  

Public Policy Committee Co-Chairs

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plain how to get the best of both worlds: by 

reading this quarterly column in the PSB and 

signing up for bimonthly AIBS Public Policy 

Reports at

cy-reports/ (Figure 2)! The BSA Public Policy 

Committee works closely with AIBS and, as a 

result, our policy actions are often linked to 

updates in the AIBS reports. 

Figure 2. BSA members receiving AIBS updates.


In addition to the survey results we’ve pre-

sented here, we received a huge number of 

recommendations from members regarding 

activities we can pursue, and we’re working 

on bringing more things into the fold as we 

speak (Figure 3). 

Figure 3. Policy activities of interest to BSA 


Do You Have Any  

Recommendations for BSA Public 

Policy Committee Activities?

Your top five responses included: 

•  Federal funding for basic botanical re-


•  Cultivate ties with other groups 

•  Promote botany through STEM education

•  Threatened and endangered species listing 

and conservation

•  Loss of university botany departments and/or 


In response to these comments, some projects 

that are in progress include developing a Policy 

website, helping to draft collaborative work with 

other groups to inform conservation legislation 

that will go up for a vote in Congress, showcas-

ing Public Policy activities from our member-

ship, and the introduction of a new public policy 


We received contact information from 20 BSA 

members (>10% of respondents!), and we are 

contacting these individuals for Public Policy 

Quarterly guest columns to showcase their 

policy activities. If you are interested in pre-

paring a guest column, please contact us (see 


In the meantime, be sure to apply for the 

fourth annual BSA Public Policy Award to at-

tend Congressional Visits Day in Washington, 

DC (include link when the application form is 

complete), due January 25, 2016! 

As always, we welcome any news, ques-

tions, or information regarding public pol-

icy news in botany. Please contact either 

Marian ( or Morgan 


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Economic Botany Notes

Extended Economic Botany 

Avenues at the BSA


conomic botany is a broadening section 

of the BSA, encompassing a myriad of 

disciplines, and often providing an important 

link between basic and applied research. At 

this year’s Botany conference in Edmonton, 

the Economic Botany section co-sponsored* 

a well-attended multidisciplinary sympo-

sium, “Underutilized Crops for Secure and 

Green Futures,” organized by section mem-

bers Nyree Zerega, Rachel Meyer, and Allison 

Miller. Along with ten section talks and six 

posters, the presenters explained the utility 

of botanical resources to improve livelihoods, 

serve as innovation platforms, impact ecology, 

and recast our understanding of humans that 

may all influence policy or genetic resource 


Following an introduction by Dr. Zerega high-

lighting the importance of underutilized crops 

as an important—but largely untapped— 





Support of the symposium was given by North-

western University, ASPT/BSA Systematics Section, 

and BSA Genetics, Tropical Biology, and Economic 

Botany sections.

source of plant genetic resources and the need 

for more basic research on these species, at-

tendees heard six talks spanning the range 

of disciplines represented by the BSA. Ear-

ly morning talks covered a study combining 

forest ecology with ethnobotany to investigate 

the impact of pre-Columbian management on 

ecosystems, an analysis of the increasing ho-

mogeneity of the global food supply and pro-

posals for increasing crop diversity and food 

security, and an investigation into crop wild 

relatives at the intersection of economic bota-

ny, plant breeding, and systematics. 

Late-morning talks included phylogenomics 

and pollination biology of an underutilized 

tree crop genus with a discussion of how ba-

sic research can be leveraged to promote the 

development of underutilized crops, an over-

view of the African Orphan Crops Consor-

tium and the ambitious collaboration aiming 

to develop genomic resources for 100 crops 

and train African crop breeders to use them, 

and finally an exploration of local adaptation 

in amaranths, which contain both underuti-

lized crops and weeds, using phylogenetic and 

population genomic tools.  

Section posters ranged from showcasing ap-

pealing traditional plant uses for health and 

for food packaging [Nepenthes can be a wrap-

per for sticky rice! (Schwallier et al.)] to tem-

perature tolerance phenotyping of crops and 

phytochemical medicinal activity. Oral pre-

sentations included developmental, nutrition-

al, and ecological impact analyses of new and 

underutilized foods and fodders. Fieldwork 

and collection analyses of rice and chickpea 

helped to reset ideas of adaptation trends. 

By Elliot Gardner (Northwestern University 

and Chicago Botanic Garden) and Rachel S. 

Meyer (New York University)

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New morphometric methods enabled infer-

ence of functional diversity. Geospatial collec-

tion assessment was used to set priority col-

lection areas for major crops. Extensive tribal 

ethnobotanical databases were compared to 

assess completeness.

Although the Economic Botany section is 

small, its scope is great, bringing together re-

searchers from a wide variety of disciplines— 

including systematics, genomics, phyto-

chemistry, ecology, ethnobotany, population 

genetics, and policy—united by the study of 

economically important plants. To address 

the growing need to connect our section with 

various disciplines and agencies, we have cre-

ated a new Community Relations Officer. We 

have kept our section dues flat to encourage 

broad participation in our section. We also 

encourage students doing multiple- or in-

ter-disciplinary science to apply for Economic 

Botany section travel awards and present at 

the next meeting.

For more information, please contact either 

Elliot ( or 

Rachel (


Schwallier, Rachel, et al. 2015. Traps as treats: a tradi-

tional sticky rice snack persisting in rapidly changing 

Asian kitchens. Poster from Botany 2015. http://2015.

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Upcoming Award Deadlines

February 1st

•  BSA Awards - General

•  Darbaker Prize

•  BSA Public Policy Award

March 1st 

•  BSA Student Travel Awards

•  PLANTS Grants

March 15th 

BSA Awards - General

•  Distinguished Fellow of the Botanical Society 

of America

•  BSA Emerging Leader Award

•  Charles Edwin Bessey Teaching Award

•  BSA Corresponding Members 

•  Grady L. Webster Structural Botany Publica-

tion Award

•  BSA Awards - Students

•  BSA Young Botanist Awards

•  BSA Graduate Student Research Awards 

•  BSA Undergraduate Student Research Awards  

•  Genetics Section Graduate Student Research 


April 1st

•  BSA Awards - General

•  Jeanette Siron Pelton Award

April 10th

•  Pteridological Section & American Fern So-

ciety Student Travel Awards

•  TRIARCH “Botanical Images” Student Travel 


•  Vernon I. Cheadle Student Travel Awards  |  

Developmental & Structural Section Student 

Travel Awards

•  Ecological Section Student Travel Awards  

Economic Botany Section Student Travel 


•  Genetics Section Student Travel Awards

The BSA has entered the awards season! Please visit  

for further information about the following awards as well as more information about BSA awards.

Society News

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Information about NSF Programs, 

Policies, and Proposals:  

What, Where, Why, How?


he scientific community always has 

many questions about the Nation-

al Science Foundation (NSF); its programs, 

funding applications, and proposal and re-

view process; and how things work in gen-

eral. While these items are covered in vari-

ous places on the NSF website (http://www., finding them can be challenging, 

and searching requires some knowledge of 

what terms to use. The NSF website is con-

stantly being updated and new functions 

often appear to help you in your searches. 


To keep researchers informed, NSF offers 

“NSF Days” (

congress/nsfdays/index.jsp) in various sites 

around the country each year. In addition, 

Program Directors (or Program Officers as 

used in the Proposal and Award Policies and 

Procedures Guide [PAPPG]) provide infor-

mation sessions at many professional society 

meetings, as did the three authors at Botany 

2015. We hope this short orientation based on 

our information session this past July will help 

researchers obtain the information they need 

more easily.

About NSF (The “What”)

The NSF is a federal agency, and as such, its 

budget and many of the priorities for the 

agency are determined by the U.S. Congress, 

the Office of Science and Technology Policy 

(OSTP), and the President’s budget request 

through the Office of Management and Bud-

get (OMB). For the most part, the distribution 

of budget funds within NSF has been deter-

mined by the NSF Director’s Office and senior 

management (Assistant Directors who are 

the heads of the various Directorates at NSF). 

They discuss the various policies and priorities 

to be addressed with funding streams, but in 

recent times, the U.S. Congress has put some 

limitations on how funds are to be distributed 

inside NSF. For example, Congress has deter-

mined funds for the Major Research Instru-

mentation Program. You can find the NSF 

By Judith E. Skog


Sedimentary Geology and Paleobiology, 

Earth Systems GEO 

Roland P. Roberts


Biological Infrastructure, BIO

Joe T. Miller

Environmental Biology, BIO 

National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA

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budget requests and final budgets at http://nsf.


We point this out because program directors 

typically are not the ones determining where 

resources go, so arguing your case for spend-

ing priorities at their level might not be the 

place to direct this issue. If a program director 

notes that he or she can’t make this decision, 

please believe him or her! It should also be 

noted that OSTP will often form Interagency 

Working Groups to address issues that span 

government agencies (one was formed on 

plant genome issues and one was addressing 

Scientific Collections). At times, the response 

to these working group findings could be new 

programs or initiatives at NSF (e.g., the Plant 

Genome Research Program and the Advanc-

ing Digitization of Biological Collections pro-

gram). In addition, the National Academy of 

Sciences (NAS) often forms special commit-

tees to examine research issues, or the sci-

entific community will hold workshops that 

result in reports on special areas of research 

needing attention. NSF may use these reports 

It is also important to understand that NSF 

is overseen by the National Science Board 

(NSB), and that body determines policies for  

NSF. The NSB, for example, recently released a 

report on reducing the workload for Principal 

Investigators (

nsb1418/nsb1418.pdf) in which preliminary 

proposals were recommended as a mechanism 

that should be tested. The “About NSF” web 

page ( provides a 

lot of information, including NSF’s current 

priorities, strategic plan, and the composition 

of the NSB. Being familiar with these items 

can help you understand the goals of many of 

the programs within NSF and to whom you 

should address concerns about opportunities 

for support.

Science and engineering research and educa-

tion support at NSF is organized into seven 

directorates under the Office of the Director:

•  Biological Sciences

•  Geosciences

•  Computer and Information Science and 


•  Engineering

•  Social, Behavioral and Economic Science

•  Education and Human Resources

•  Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Within directorates, organization varies; 

some are divided further into divisions, clus-

ters or sections, offices, virtual activities, spe-

cial activities, or other units that make sense 

for their size and activities. This structure may 

seem to be narrowly divided; however, there is 

opportunity for exchange of ideas, co-review-

ing, and collaboration among the entities. 

Be assured, the scientists working at NSF rec-

ognize the collaborative nature of research 

and strive to provide the best reviews of the 

science within each program and across what 

may appear to be a restrictive and narrow 

focus of the various programs. We note this 

Researchers often think 

they can only look to 

their “home director-

ate” for support, but it 

is important for every-

one to peruse programs 

across NSF. 

as priorities for the foundation are consid-

ered. Many professional societies (e.g. AIBS,  

AAAS, as well as BSA) have public policy of-

fices or committees, and they can be valuable 

resources to help one understand how the sci-

ence funding policies are determined.


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because researchers often think they can only 

look to their “home directorate” for support, 

but it is important for everyone to peruse 

programs across the foundation. For exam-

ple, the Major Research Instrumentation pro-

gram is managed through the Office for In-

tegrative Activities (

index.jsp?org=OIA) under the Office of the 

Director, and some international activities are 

supported through the Office of Internation-

al Science and Engineering (http://www.nsf.


Although the science is overseen by the var-

ious directorates/programs, the actual finan-

cial part is overseen by the Office of Budget, 

Finance, and Award Management. The di-

vision of this office you will most likely deal 

with is the Division of Grants and Agreements 

(DGA), since DGA actually makes the awards 

recommended by the science divisions. Your 

sponsored research office (SRO) is probably in 

close contact with DGA and its policies, and 

you should consult your SRO about budget is-

sues when preparing proposals or you should 

consult your grants officer if you have ques-

tions about an award. Program directors will 

answer questions about the science for pro-

posals and awards. 

A program director will typically be your pri-

mary point of contact at NSF, and it is worth-

while to know there are various ways program 

directors are employed at NSF. There are pro-

gram directors who are permanent employees 

whose only job is at NSF. Then there are cat-

egories of temporary staff who serve shorter 

terms at NSF. Rotating program directors may 

come for 1 to 3 years through (1) the Intergov-

ernmental Personnel Act (IPA), where these 

people retain their institution employment 

and NSF pays the institution for their services, 

(2) Visiting Scientists who take leave from 

their university and are paid by NSF, and (3) 

temporary federal employees who resign oth-

er jobs and are full time for a limit of 3 years 

at NSF. There are also “experts” hired for spe-

cial tasks (e.g., to fill in short-term within pro-

grams on a part-time basis). Rotator positions 

are an opportunity for others to learn more 

about NSF and to bring their special scientific 

expertise to the foundation. Announcements 

appear regularly for these openings, and they 

are posted on the NSF website on the director-

ates’ web pages and on USAJOBS. 

Information on Programs 

(The “Where”)

Most likely, many of you as plant biologists 

will be considering funding opportunities 

through programs managed by the Director-

ate for Biological Sciences (BIO, http://www., so we will 

provide a brief overview of this directorate. 

There are four divisions in the directorate: Bi-

ological Infrastructure (DBI), Environmental 

Biology (DEB), Integrative Organismal Sys-

tems (IOS), and Molecular and Cellular Biol-

ogy (MCB). As you can see, the divisions ad-

dress research at the level of the cell and below, 

the organism level, above the organism level, 

and any research or program that provides in-

frastructure required for biological research, 

including education from undergraduate to 

postdoctoral researchers. 

A program director will 

typically be your primary 

point of contact at NSF, 

and it is worthwhile to 

know there are various 

ways program directors 

are employed at NSF. 


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We do not describe individual programs here, 

because the goals, the criteria, and the em-

phasis can change from year to year. You can 

find a list of upcoming funding opportunities 

for BIO on ( 

and on the main BIO blog, BIO Buzz (https:// You 

should read the program description and so-

licitation that are the most recent versions be-

fore you begin work on any proposal. When a 

solicitation has been replaced by a newer ver-

sion, there should be a note at the top of the 

solicitation giving the newest number or not-

ing that it has been replaced. Be sure to check 

for any indication of revision. 

Some programs within BIO are collaborative 

with other directorates or other agencies or 

have other groups setting priorities. The Plant 

Genome Research Program located in IOS, 

for example, is developed based on plans pro-

duced every five years by a working group of 

several governmental agencies (who were part 

of the OSTP Interagency Working Group for 

Plant Genomics mentioned above), and this 

program’s priorities may change depending on 

that plan. As another example, the BIO post-

doc program often partners with other direc-

torates to address a need for new researchers 

to be trained as interdisciplinary scientists. If 

there are no external partners in the postdoc 

program, a group of program directors from 

all the divisions within the BIO directorate 

considers areas of need for new expertise in 

a specific biological area of research and rec-

ommend this as an emphasis for the postdoc 

program. These areas of emphasis generally 

continue for five years. 

Some additional items of note regarding BIO 

programs: There are special programs that 

have their own deadlines and requirements, 

such as CAREER, OPUS, Genealogy of Life, 

LTREB, Ecology of Infectious Diseases, Re-

search Coordination Networks, and Dimen-

sions of Biodiversity. These do not fall under 

the same deadlines or requirements as the 

core programs, even though they are funded 

out of the same money as the core programs 

(for a complete list of BIO active funding op-

portunities, visit

pgm_list.jsp?org=BIO&ord=date). Note that 

DEB also has a small grant category that is 

labeled at the preproposal stage as a project 

whose budget is capped at 150K; this is for 

projects that are smaller in scope and size. 

So far, the funding rate for these DEB small 

grants is slightly higher than for the rest of the 

core grants. You can find further information 

about small grants in the program solicitation 

and information about the funding rates for 

the small grants on the DEB blog (http://www.

Also remember that programs are not static 

and the emphasis may change or there may 

To gather additional infor-

mation and advice on BIO 

programs, we recommend 

you read the blogs from the 

BIO divisions for analyses of 

programs and funding rates, 

news items about research, 

statistics on awards, staff 

profiles, and advice on vari-

ous programs: 

•  DEB blog (DEBrief): 


•  IOS blog (IOS InFocus): 


•  MCB blog: 



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be programs with defined limits to their ex-

istence based on budgets or new government 

emphases. Once a special program reaches 

its set duration, the research may be includ-

ed within core programs, the special program 

may be redefined, or additional buy-in from 

across NSF or other agencies may continue 

the program with a different format or em-


To gather additional information and advice 

on BIO programs, we recommend you read 

the blogs from the BIO divisions. The division 

blogs are where you can find analyses of pro-

grams and funding rates, news items about re-

search, statistics on awards, staff profiles, and 

advice on various programs such as CAREER: 

•  DEB blog (DEBrief): http://nsfdeb.word-

•  IOS blog (IOS InFocus): http://nsfiosinfocus.

•  MCB blog:



While most botanists seek funding from the 

BIO directorate, as we said above, you should 

look for funding opportunities throughout the 

foundation. If you are developing computer 

informatics that are of general use, check out 

programs under the Computer and Informa-

tion Science and Engineering (CISE) director-

ate (

CISE). The Geosciences (GEO) directorate 


also includes programs that could be useful to 

consider; if you are doing research in the po-

lar regions, check out Polar Programs (http://; or if 

you are studying fossils, read about the Sed-

imentary Geology and Paleobiology program 


For Education activities, such as REU sites, 

new undergraduate efforts, graduate student 

programs and education research, the Educa-

tion and Human Resources (EHR) directorate 


is the place to look. If you are unsure about 

where your specific research fits best, use the 

NSF awards database to search for keywords 

that describe your research. You may discover 

programs that you had not considered previ-


Process and Policies  

(The “Why”)

Program Directors are often asked why cer-

tain programs have different requirements or 

review methods (e.g., panels, ad hoc review-

ers, a combination of these two, or no reviews 

for certain categories). We call your attention 

to a document that was produced after a Mer-

it Review Working Group analyzed a number 

of issues at NSF with respect to workload, 

the burden on the community, and the bur-

den on Principal Investigators: http://www.

Merit_review.pdf. In this document, there are 

a number of charts and graphs illustrating the 

merit review challenges occurring in the past 

decade. Of particular interest will be the last 

two pages (pp. 25-26) where numerous sug-

gestions are made for ways to improve the re-

view process. Several of these are being tested 

across NSF to see if they are effective. 

For example, programs within DBI and MCB 

have a single deadline per year, whereas DEB 

and IOS require preproposals and then those 

investigators who are invited to do so may 

submit full proposals. Some GEO programs 

are testing, having no deadlines, with propos-

als being accepted anytime. Other programs 

limit the number of proposals that may be 

submitted by a PI in a given time frame. Be 

sure to visit the various directorate and divi-

sion web pages and the program pages and 

solicitations to understand the deadlines, the 


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goals and priorities, and the various required 

documents for each program. You also need 

to review carefully the PAPPG, which is the 

general information source for policies and 

procedures for all submissions to NSF in general. 

Proposal Information  

(The “How”)

Okay, you are now informed on how to tackle 

programs and find the information you need 

about them. Now we’ll discuss the proposal 

process. Many good proposals are submitted 

to programs, but what is a “good proposal”? A 

good proposal is a good idea, well expressed, 

with a clear indication of methods for pursu-

ing the idea, evaluating the findings, and mak-

ing them known to reviewers and others who 

need to know. 

However, just writing a good proposal does 

not make it competitive within a particular 

program. A competitive proposal is a good 

proposal and it is appropriate for the program 

and responsive to the specific requirements 

of the program solicitation or announcement 

(program summary). It also conveys some ex-

citement and innovation in the field of study; 

therefore, you should always read and consid-

er all information about the program carefully 

before you begin to write a proposal.

When reading a program summary and so-

licitation, focus on the goals of the program, 

eligibility requirements, and other special 

requirements and review criteria. Keep the 

review criteria in mind as you think about 

writing a proposal. Intellectual merit refers to 

the ways in which the proposed activity will 

advance science and engineering through re-

search and education. Broader impacts are the 

broader scientific and societal impacts of the 

project and its potential results. In addition 

to these two overall criteria, look for special 

review criteria for the program as described 

in the announcement or solicitation. Often, 

at the end of a solicitation, there is a section 

called “Additional Review Criteria.” Be sure to 

read solicitations thoroughly, as we find this 

section is often missed. Every page of a solic-

itation provides important information for 

preparing a competitive proposal. You may 

want to ask someone for a copy of their suc-

cessful proposal—but remember that some 

program announcements are reissued year-

ly or on a regular cycle, so the emphasis can 

change. The award abstracts database (


) is a good place to find 

recently funded awards for a program to see 

what the emphasis has been in recent years. 

On the program web page, you will find a link 

at the bottom for “Recent Awards in this Pro-

gram” that will quickly take you to the most 

recent awards and save you from searching all 

of the NSF awards database.

Identify your best research ideas for which you 

have some preliminary data. Be sure you have 

developed clear hypotheses and experimen-

tal procedures before you take the next steps. 

Consider feasibility in a 36- to 60-month win-

dow and what assistance you will need, given 

teaching and other time commitments. Think 

carefully about the budget request and how 

you would justify that request based on the

Often, at the end of a so-

licitation, there is a sec-

tion called “Additional 

Review Criteria.” Be sure 

to read solicitations thor-

oughly, as we find this 

section is often missed. 


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Commandments for a  

Competitive NSF Proposal 

•  Thou shalt start early! Give yourself 

enough time to check all the items and 

consider the proposal for all the criteria. 

Think carefully about the budget and that 

it is well justified by the research program. 

•  Thou shalt address the NSF review cri-

teria thoroughly! Both intellectual mer-

it and broader impacts should be ad-

dressed and related to the project. This is 

especially important when considering 

the broader impacts, since there should 

be some direct relevance for the research 

in a societal context. To simply say you 

will participate in an ongoing activity 

at your institution is not enough; ex-

plain why your project is important for 

that activity and why that activity is im-

portant for your project. Be as specific 

about the broader impacts of the project 

as you are about the intellectual merit. 

•  Thou shalt read the PAPPG and the pro-

gram announcement and solicitation! 

Follow  all  instructions    in    these    doc-


•  Thou shalt get feedback on your proposal 

from your colleagues! Proposals should 

be cogent, appropriate, and justified. 

Study the reviews carefully if you receive 

them—for both awards and declines. 

Anticipate criticisms and invite criticism 

before you submit. Do not ask only the 

people close to your field of research, but 

ask someone who is not familiar with 

what you are doing to provide comment. 

If that person says something like “It was 

OK,” don’t submit that proposal. If that 

person says, “Wow, I had no idea your 

work was so interesting,” send in the pro-

posal. Remember that when this project 

is read in a panel, you will have at least 

three people reading it and comparing it 

to the other proposals within that pan-

el. If the two people who are outside the 

specific area of your research don’t like it 

because they don’t see the rationale or the 

excitement of this research, their reviews 

won’t be enthusiastic either. And you 

need to convince a wide audience of peo-

ple that your work is important. Which 

brings up the next commandment…. 

•  Thou shalt not irritate the reviewers! 

Be clear and concise and make it easy 

for reviewers to understand all parts of 

the project. Think like a reviewer be-

fore you submit the final draft. And, by 

the way, do submit the final draft—not 

the one with the comments inserted 

into the text that say “This paragraph 

needs work!” Yes, we have seen those.  

•  Finally, thou shalt contact your program 

director! If questions remain about items 

within the proposal, we are here to help. 

We realize that not all the items in the doc-

uments we provide are clear to everyone, 

and there are ways of interpreting pro-

gram announcements that require some 

clarification. Don’t be afraid to write with 

specific questions or to request a phone 

conversation; it’s always best to prepare 

your PD prior to a phone call. We can’t an-

ticipate all questions, and some answers 

require a bit of research and discussion. 

You will speed up the process by asking 

the question or outlining the problem 

and requesting time for a conversation if 

the answer cannot be provided through 

e-mail. Obviously, e-mail is preferred, so 

we all have a record of the question and 

the answer, and to maintain consistency 

with decisions made within the program. 



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proposed activities. Communicate with a pro-

gram director who can assist in determining 

the project’s relevance for the program and 

answer your questions. 

Writing a Proposal

Read the PAPPG (

lications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=papp) for 

guidance and instructions on proposal prepa-

ration and submission, and all criteria for the 

proposal to be accepted by the system. The 

guide describes the process for declinations, 

returns, withdrawals, awards, and significant 

items for grant administration. The require-

ments in this guide apply to all proposals 

submitted to NSF, but remember, there may 

be additional requirements or more restric-

tive requirements found within a program’s 

solicitation or announcement. So, when com-

posing your proposal, first follow the PAPPG 

and then apply any changes or additional con-

tent described for the program solicitation to 

which you are responding.  

Anticipate some frustration along the way. 

If your proposal is declined and the reviews 

and panel summary do not make clear why, 

first look to see if there is a program director 

(“PO”) comment on your proposal. If not, or 

if this still does not address your concerns, 

contact the program director once you have 

thought carefully about the reviews and the 

questions they raise. If awarded, follow up on 

reporting and stay in touch with the program 

about your accomplishments and publica-

tions. NSF is always eager to share PI research 

and education outcomes on their website and 

via social media.

A Note about Preproposals 

Does our advice apply to preproposals where 

these are required? Mainly, yes. Programs will 

provide instructions for preproposals in the 

announcement and there will be information 

about preproposal submission. Typically, sim-

ilar instructions are included for preproposals 

and proposals; however, since preproposals 

are shorter, it is important to understand what 

makes a good preproposal. In a preproposal, 

reviewers look for excitement, significance, 

rationale for the main idea, and a justification 

that the methods proposed will answer the 

question posed. The conceptual framework of 

the main objectives and the specific aims for 

the project must be clearly stated. And, as with 

full proposals, the broader impacts should be 

relevant for the project. 

Final Bit of Advice

Stay up to date on NSF programs, deadlines, 

jobs, and events by subscribing to the NSF 

news feed, which you can find under the News 

web page ( At the 

top of the page is a link to receive news by 

email. When you subscribe, you can choose 

how to receive news items, how often, and 

which items you want to receive so you will 

not be flooded with information not relevant 

to you. In addition, you may want to read 

the BIO blogs and follow NSF and BIO on 

Twitter and Facebook (see http://www.nsf.

gov/social/). Being informed about critical 

dates, changes in programs, new programs, or 

changes in requirements or policies is the best 

way to prepare and submit proposals that are 

appropriate for a program at NSF.


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Nisku Prairie: An Aspen Parkland 

Remnant in Central Alberta,  

Canada: Conservation Challenges

by Patsy Cotterill 

Cotterill is an Edmonton botanist. She is a 

steward of three protected areas in the aspen 

parkland and boreal regions of Alberta, 

Canada, and also volunteers with City of 

Edmonton natural areas and parks.


n the Interior Plains of North America, as-

pen parkland extends as an arc some 200 to 

250 km wide from the foothills of the Rocky 

Mountains across the Canadian Provinces of 

Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It is a 

vegetation zone unique both to North Amer-

ica and the world, bounded in Alberta by the 

boreal forest to the north and the grasslands 

region to the south. It is so named because 

it naturally consists of a mosaic of groves of 

trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) and 

open grassland, dotted with wetlands in 

low-lying areas.  Its flat or undulating topog-

raphy is a legacy of glacial debris deposited at 

the end of the last glaciation; silt from glacial 

lakes, till from in situ glacier melting, wind-

blown sand dunes or glacial outwash from 

meltwater channels. Grasslands developed in 

the drier sites, woodlands in the wetter ones. 

Aspen parkland proved ideal for European 

settlement with its fertile soils. Today only 6% 

of its original prairie is left, the rest consumed 

by agriculture, the oil and gas industry and, 

most recently, urban and suburban develop-

ment. Most of its remaining grasslands are 

small, isolated, and few and far between.

Figure 1. Nisku Prairie landscape in October 

2015, showing aspen groves and interspersed 

grassland. (Photo credit: Charles Richmond)

Nisku Prairie is one such remnant (Figure 1). 

Twenty-three acres in extent, it is an L-shaped 

parcel of largely native grassland bordered 

and intruded by aspen groves. It is situated 

on the west-facing, gently terraced slope of 

the Gwynne Outlet Channel, which is incised 

about 20 m into the surrounding plain. This 

broad, shallow valley was eroded when Glacial 

Lake Edmonton discharged through it some 

10,000 years ago. On the other three sides, Ni-

sku Prairie is bordered by a road and acreage 

residences. The municipality of Leduc County 

has preserved it as a municipal reserve, allow-

able under the Municipal Government Act of 

Alberta, which requires that 10% must be set 

aside as public land when private land is sub-

divided for development. 

In 1993 a local acreage owner “discovered” the 

prairie with its rich assemblage of native flora. 

Ecologists from the Government of Alberta 

and the University of Alberta testified to its 

ecological value as a rare remnant, and Leduc 

County was persuaded to beef up its protec-

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tion of the reserve. With the approval of local 

residents, the County staked out the boundar-

ies more carefully and erected a fence along all 

but the western perimeter, along with a horse 

gate for access, and appropriate signage.  This 

arrangement has been successful in keeping 

out all-terrain vehicles, a major recreational 

menace in rural areas, including supposedly 

protected natural areas and reserves. On the 

public side, a volunteer management commit-

tee was established. This cooperation was later 

formalized in a Stewardship and Management 

Agreement co-signed by Leduc County and 

the Native Plant Council of Alberta, whose 

local members contribute to the pool of vol-

unteer stewards.  

A Diverse Grassland Flora

Small differences in topography, including 

boulder outcrops, in soil type and moisture, 

such as in shallow draws and west-facing 

slopes, contribute to a diverse flora of over 

180 species (including woodland species). The 

dominant grass of the grassland component of 

aspen parkland is plains rough fescue (Festuca 

hallii), one of three rough fescue species that 

comprise what was formerly considered a sin-

gle entity, the Festuca scabrella complex, now 

recognized as the provincial grass emblem be-

cause of its ecological importance and cultural 

significance as the basis of the ranching indus-

try in Alberta. Nisku Prairie’s large cover of 

rough fescue grass (F. hallii) indicates conclu-

sively that it is an original grassland remnant, 

as this grass does not regenerate once land has 

been plowed. Somewhat enigmatically, which 

seems to be true of many of the prairie rem-

nants in our area, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa 

pratensis), considered to be an introduced 

species, is also a major component.  Nisku 

Prairie’s soils belong to the Chernozemic and 

Solonetzic orders, the former releasing Ca



ions from weathering of the glacial sediments, 

the latter Na


 ions, with consequences for soil 

structure and vegetation. Large patches of in-

termediate oat grass (Danthonia intermedia

and mat muhly (Muhlenbergia richardsonis

indicate solonetzic soils; in small spots where 

the solonetz develops into hard pans lacking 

vegetation, thickspike wheatgrass (Elymus 

lanceolatus subsp. lanceolatus) is present. 

(Many of our northern prairie remnants oc-

cur on solonetzic soils because they were dif-

ficult to cultivate; this protection does not un-

fortunately apply to rapid urbanization.) 

Our most prized grass is Canadian ricegrass 

(Piptatheropsis canadensis), a relative rarity 

in Alberta. Among the eight species of sedge 

(Carex) recorded, woolly sedge (Carex pelli-

ta) and graceful sedge (C. praegracilis) appear 

to be the most prominent, especially in the 

moist solonetzic areas. Dudley’s rush (Juncus 

dudleyi) is common throughout the grassland 

(Figure 2). 

Figure 2. Plains rough fescue and three-flow-

ered avens. (Photo credit: Patsy Cotterill)

Among our typical herbaceous species of the 

grassland are prairie crocus (Anemone patens), 

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much esteemed as a harbinger of spring when 

it blooms in early May, three-flowered avens 

(Geum triflorum), two buttercups, prairie (Ra-

nunculus rhomboideus) and heart-leaved (R. 

cardiophyllus), and heart-leaved alexanders 

(Zizia aptera). A succession of flowers occurs 

throughout June and July, including two spe-

cies of Arnica, slender blue beardtongue (Pen-

stemon procerus), golden-bean (Thermopsis 

rhombifolia), field mouse-ear chickweed (Cer-

astium arvense), northern bedstraw (Galium 

boreale), and veiny meadow-rue (Thalictrum 

venulosum). Richardson’s alumroot (Heu-

chera richardsonii) and the white and graceful 

cinquefoils (Drymocallis arguta and P. grac-

ilis) are also common, as is bastard toadflax 

(Comandra umbellata). Petaloid monocots in-

clude prairie onion (Allium textile), common 

blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium montanum

and wood lily (Lilium philadelphicum). In wet 

years we see a few specimens of the beauti-

ful calciphile white camas (Anticlea elegans). 

Mid- to late-season blooms consist mostly 

of Aster family members: five asters (Can-

adanthus  and  Symphyotrichum species), five 

goldenrods (Solidago species), two sunflowers 

(Helianthus spp.), meadow blazingstar (Lia-

tris ligulistylis), and narrow-leaved hawkweed 

(Hieracium umbellatum). Three Artemisias 

are the latest representatives of the family to 

flower. Two other late bloomers of note are the 

annuals felwort (Gentianella amarella) and 

the hemi-parasite yellow owl’s-clover (Or-

thocarpus luteus) (Figure 3).   Shrubs are well 

represented in the moist soils of Nisku Prairie. 

With the exception of a few willows, all are of 

low stature. They include swamp gooseberry 

(Ribes hirtellum), saskatoon (Amelanchier al-

nifolia) and common wild rose (Rosa wood-

sii). Narrow-leaved meadowsweet (Spiraea 

alba) forms extensive patches in the wetter 

areas and is at its western limit at the longi-

tude of Leduc. Western snowberry (Sym-

phoricarpos occidentalis), a major colonizer of 

poorer-quality grasslands in aspen parkland, 

forms occasional patches, especially on moist, 

west-facing slopes. 

Figure 3.    Grassland in midsummer, with a 

variety of forbs, including meadow blazingstar 

and stiff goldenrod. (Photo credit: Patsy Cotterill.)


The Challenges of  

Managing a Prairie

Before European settlement of the aspen 

parkland, grazing by bison, and fire (caused 

by lightning or by aboriginal hunters), main-

tained grassland at the expense of suckering 

aspen. Both these management methods are 

difficult for small steward groups to employ 

and the agricultural departments of munici-

palities often have other priorities than their 

natural areas, as well as little expertise in burn-

ing for ecological purposes. Haying has been 

employed by Leduc County in the past and we 

hope to start a program of haying with litter re-

moval again next year. We have also established 

two sets of experimental plots to determine the 

effect of litter removal on plant growth.

Even after 20 years of intervention in the Prai-

rie, weed control continues to be a major man-

agement requirement. The great bane of natu-

ral areas throughout Alberta is the introduced 

forage grass, smooth brome (Bromus inermis), 

an aggressive colonizer of disturbed open ar-

eas that can also happily coexist as understo-

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PSB 61 (4) 2015 










ry in aspen woodland. Attempts at control of 

brome colonies in the grassland have consist-

ed mostly of herbiciding with glyphosate. The 

resulting patches of dead litter require repeat-

ed herbicide applications pending regenera-

tion with natives from surrounding grassland 

or with transplants. Over the last half-dozen 

years meadow foxtail (Alopecurus pratensis

has become well established, likely getting its 

start in the wet bottomlands of the Gwynne 

Outlet and spreading up into the grasslands. 

We are cutting and herbiciding it. 

A heavily disturbed area near the gate where 

rocks excavated from nearby fields were 

dumped and then removed has been the focus 

of volunteer efforts for the last few years. The 

soil here is now so disturbed that we essential-

ly have a “garden,” with a seemingly inexhaust-

ible seed bank supply of annual and perennial 

weeds such as stinkweed (Thlaspi arvense), 

hemp-nettle (Galeopsis tetrahit), Canada this-

tle (Cirsium arvense), and sow-thistle (Son-

chus arvensis), along with smooth brome. We 

have transplanted here seedlings and plugs 

grown by volunteers from seed collected on 

site or from the general area. The transplants 

resemble those of the intact prairie communi-

ty neither in composition nor form. We grow 

species that germinate easily and are robust in 

habit, with the objective of creating as much 

native ground cover as quickly as we can: 

three-flowered avens, Richardson’s alumroot, 

slender blue beardtongue, asters and golden-

rods, and various grasses. Natural succession 

would eventually take care of the annuals, and 

indeed patches of the perennial colonizer Soli-

dago canadensis complex are extensive, but we 

assume that thistle and brome would persist 

indefinitely among the natives if we did not re-

move them. We have not planted plains rough 

fescue, despite the dominance of this grass in 

mature prairies as its seedlings are unthrifty 

and uncompetitive in early successional situ-

ations. Moreover, our Nisku populations have 

not flowered significantly in four years, and 

other sources of seed are few and far between 

(Figure 4).  

We are concerned that a number of native spe-

cies appear to have disappeared over the years, 

usually those that were present originally in 

small numbers. Examples include leathery 

grape fern (Botrychium multifidum), Hooker’s 

oatgrass (Avenula hookeri), long-leaved bluets 

(Houstonia longifolia), and Drummond’s this-

tle (Cirsium drummondii). All of our grassland 

species are wide-ranging in North America, 

so their loss is only of local significance. Of 

perhaps even greater concern is our suspicion 

that numbers of commoner species are declin-

ing, which raises the question of whether this 

is due to natural attrition, or our amateurish 

and inconsistent management activities!

Our plans are to pay more attention to grass-

land health in the coming years, and to develop 

a more scientific basis for assessing changes in 

plant diversity. (A single-year inventory is not 

sufficient. This year we had no appreciable rain 

until late July, and several species did not flower 

or flowered only in small numbers as a result.) 

Figure 4. View of the disturbed rockpile area 

near the gate, currently being transplanted with 

native plugs. (Photo credit: Trudy Haracsi)

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Conservation of Grasslands

In many ways, the challenges of managing Ni-

sku Prairie are typical of those of small nat-

ural areas on publicly owned, provincial, or 

municipal land. While the government can 

prevail upon private industry to restore dis-

turbances caused by pipelines and other in-

dustrial activities, public money is not avail-

able for natural remnants whose purpose is 

conservation or nature-oriented recreation. 

The priority of urban municipalities is the 

maintenance of parks and urban forests; for 

rural ones it is agriculture and rural subdivi-

sions. Consequently, much of the stewardship 

work falls on volunteers, who have their own 

limitations: lack of equipment, appropriate 

contacts and networks, expertise, time, and 

availability. A somewhat brighter conserva-

tion and management picture is that of the 

newly thriving land trusts, although even they 

depend to a considerable extent upon volun-

teers for management (Figure 5).  

The connectivity of small remnants to larger 

natural landscapes is now recognized as of su-

preme importance for the long-term viability 

of vegetation communities. Geographically, 

Nisku Prairie is “connected” to the Gwynne 

Outlet, which extends south into a deeper 

valley supporting natural grassland commu-

nities. However, most of the acreage owners 

have extended their properties, often used for 

grazing horses, right down to the Channel 

edge, severing an ecological connection. We 

must likely accept that Nisku Prairie can make 

no significant long-term contribution to the 

conservation of grasslands in the aspen park-

land zone or in Alberta as a whole. Perhaps its 

most important role then is anthropocentric 

rather than ecocentric: to serve as a “living 

museum” for public education and apprecia-

tion and for scientific study and experiment, 

likely involving students from our various 

post-secondary institutions. The continued 

engagement of volunteers, especially younger 

ones, is also vital, and we should be making 

greater efforts at outreach.

Older people with farming backgrounds have 

nostalgic ties to iconic species such as prai-

rie crocus, associations that can only lessen 

in predominantly urban-raised populations. 

Our stewardship goal should be to maintain 

the health of the Nisku Prairie ecosystem for 

as long as possible so that succeeding genera-

tions can appreciate our ancestral landscapes. 

Such appreciation is basic to fostering attitu-

dinal changes that could mean that conserva-

tion of both small and large landscapes will 

eventually be given the focus and the funding 

it deserves.

Figure 5. Volunteers “wicking” smooth brome and reed canarygrass with glypho-

sate in a disturbed area. (Photographer unknown.)

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Fred Sack (1947-2015)

Long-time BSA member Fred D. Sack died 

on June 30, 2015, after a brief illness. He had 

served as a Professor in the Department of 

Botany at the University of British Columbia 

from 2006 to his retirement in 2014 and as 

Head of the department from 2006 to 2011. 

Fred was born on May 22, 1947 in New York 

City, the only child of Irving and Matilda Sack. 

He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 

1964 and Antioch University in 1969, with a 

degree in Sociology. While working in New 

York City and living in Brooklyn, Fred en-

countered the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and 

developed an interest in plants that eventually 

led him to Cornell University for graduate school. 

Fred received his Ph.D. from Cornell in 1982 

for his research on stomatal development and 

ultrastructure in the moss Funaria hygromet-

rica. A portion of Fred’s thesis appeared in the 

American Journal of Botany in 1983, the first 

of numerous AJB papers over his career. Af-

ter two years as a postdoctoral researcher at 

In Memoriam

the Boyce Thompson Institute, Fred was hired 

as an Assistant Professor in the Department 

of Botany at The Ohio State University in 

1984. He progressed through the ranks, and 

remained there for 22 years. Fred’s research 

interests in plants were broad and diverse and 

included developmental anatomy, cell biology, 

structure-function relationships, molecular 

genetics, the cytoskeleton, and gravitational biology.  

Fred’s interests in gravitational and space biol-

ogy led to extensive involvement with NASA 

advisory boards, grants panels, and working 

groups. He served on the National Acade-

my of Sciences Committee on Space Biology 

and Medicine, the Space Studies Board, and 

the National Research Council. From 1991 

to 1993, Fred served on the Board of Direc-

tors of the American Society for Gravitational 

and Space Biology; in 2004, he was awarded 

the NASA Public Service Medal, and in 2005 

he was appointed a Fellow of the American 

Academy for the Advancement of Science. 

Fred served as an Associate Editor for the AJB 

from 2005 to 2013.   

Over the course of his scholarly career, Fred 

published over 110 papers and supervised 

scores of graduate students and postdocs. He 

was known for his enthusiasm, incisive think-

ing, quick wit, and collegial nature.  Fred is 

survived by his wife, Dian Clare, her three 

sons and four grandchildren, and his twelve 

cousins. In memory of Fred’s love of gardens 

and his scientific interests, the Fred Sack Me-

morial Fund at the University of British Co-

lumbia will support the creation of a moss gar-

den around the Biological Sciences Building.  

- Judy Jernstedt, University of California, Davis

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Dr. Edward L. Schneider 

Named President and  

Executive Director of  

The Botanical Research 

Institute of Texas

The Board of Directors of the Botanical Re-

search Institute of Texas (BRIT®) is delighted 

to announce that Edward L. Schneider, Ph.D., 

has been named President and Executive 

Director, effective December 15, 2015. Dr. 

Schneider brings more than 30 years of bo-

tanical executive administrative experience to 

BRIT and will lead the organization into the 

next phase of its mission of conservation and 


“On behalf of the Board of Directors of BRIT, 

I am excited to welcome Ed Schneider as the 

new Executive Director,” said Board Chair-

man, Harry Bartel. “Dr. Schneider’s leadership 

and fundraising skills are perfect for building 

upon BRIT’s mission-based research and edu-

cation programs and extending the Institute’s 

capabilities into each.”

BRIT’s search for a new executive director 

began in June 2014 after long-time director 

Dr. S. H. Sohmer announced his retirement. 

The selection was made after an exhaustive 

national search and selection process. 


Louisiana State University 

Names Its Herbarium for 

Shirley C. Tucker 

Boyd Professor Emerita Dr. Shirley C. Tucker 

has given $2 million to the LSU Herbarium 

and plant systematics program in the College 

of Science  Department of Biological Scienc-

es. Her gift, supplemented with an addition-

al $960,000 from the Louisiana Board of Re-

gents, creates a $2.96 million endowment to 

support the Dr. Shirley C. Tucker Chair in 

Plant Systematics, supports four superior 

graduate student scholarships, and provides 

endowed support for the LSU Herbarium.

In recognition of her distinguished career and 

contributions to plant sciences at LSU and 

beyond, the LSU Herbarium was named the 

Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium during a ribbon 

cutting ceremony held on October 15, 2015. 

The ceremony was followed by a symposium 

featuring guest speakers Irwin M. Brodo, 

emeritus scientist at the Canadian Museum 

of Nature in Ottawa and principle author of 

Lichens of North America, and Chelsea D. 

Specht, associate professor and curator of 


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PSB 61 (4) 2015 










herbarium lichen collection, which contains 

44,000 specimens, one of the largest such col-

lections in the Southeast.

The Shirley C. Tucker Chair in Plant Systemat-

ics will provide perpetual support for an out-

standing faculty member in plant systematics 

in the Biological Sciences Department and 

additional funding for superior graduate stu-

dent scholarships to recruit top-performing 

graduate students in plant systematics to LSU. 

Tucker’s gift will also provide continuous and 

reliable support to maintain and grow LSU’s 

Herbarium collections.

“Dr. Tucker is a trailblazer in her field and 

role model for aspiring botanists and women 

in science. We are very excited to be a part of 

monocots at the University of California, 


“I am grateful for the many enjoyable years I 

spent as a faculty member at LSU. It is a plea-

sure to be able to show my appreciation with 

this gift and to support a strong program in 

plant systematics at LSU that will continue for 

years to come,” said Tucker.

A renowned lichenologist and leading au-

thority on floral development in legumes and 

other groups of flowering plants, Tucker was 

one of the first women to receive LSU’s high-

est faculty rank of Boyd Professor. She has 

written more than 150 publications on floral 

development, plant systematics and lichen 

studies. She is also credited for building LSU’s 

Ribbon-cutting ceremony  to celebrate the naming of the Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium at LSU.   (L 

to R) Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium Director Lowell Urbatsch, Senior Development Director for 

the College of Science Emi Gilbert, College of Science Dean Cynthia Peterson, LSU Boyd Professor 

Emerita Shirley C. Tucker, LSU President F. King Alexander, and LSU Foundation Vice President 

for Development Ann Marie Marmande. Photo by Jim Zietz, LSU Strategic Communication.


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her legacy of achievement,” said Cynthia Pe-

terson, dean and Seola Arnaud and Richard 

Vernon Edwards Jr. Professor. “Shirley Tucker 

has maintained a decades-long commitment 

to the LSU Herbarium and her gift will allow 

us to sustain this important facility and attract 

additional talented faculty and students to the 

plant systematics program.”

The LSU Herbarium is a testament to the geo-

graphical breadth and taxonomic depth of 

Tucker’s lichen studies. Her interest in lichens 

began in the 1950s as a student in the Bota-

ny Department at the University of Minneso-

ta. She began focusing on lichens in the Gulf 

Coast region circa 1970 after reviewing LSU’s 

historic Louisiana lichen collections of A.B. 

Langlois from the late 1800s. Her research 

collections also include vascular plants, bryo-

phytes, algae and fungi.

“Shirley C. Tucker’s generous, substantial do-

nation of funds for supporting the plant sys-

tematics program and the herbarium at Lou-

isiana State University is gratifying beyond 

words. Since day one of my arrival at LSU in 

1975, Shirley has been a resourceful, helpful 

and personable colleague for me, for graduate 

students, and for many scientists worldwide. 

Knowing that all of her fine attributes will 

be embodied forever in this fine gift will be a 

source of inspiration for all of those who will 

benefit from her generosity,” said Lowell Ur-

batsch, director and curator, Shirley C. Tucker 


Tucker retired from LSU in 1995 and con-

tinues a very active research program at the 

University of California, Santa Barbara, the 

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and the Lou-

isiana State University Herbarium. In 2006, 

she was inducted into the LSU College of Sci-

ence Hall of Distinction. She has also held a 

number of prestigious leadership positions in-

cluding president of the American Society of 

Plant Taxonomists and the Botanical Society 

of America.

60 years ago:   

“The Weed Society of America was founded at Fargo, North Dakota, in December 1954.  All per-

sons who join this society during 1955 will be listed as charter members. Annual dues are $6.00; this 

includes a subscription to the journal Weeds.”  PSB 1(4): 3

Egbert H. Walker of the Smithsonian Institution reports on his experience as the Botanical Society 

of America’s delegate to the 1951 meeting of the Botanical Society of Japan:   “The outstanding im-

pression gained from the contacts at this convention is that the Japanese botanists are eager for closer 

contacts and exchange with American botanists. The language barriers and the traditions of Japan, 

and likewise of America, are obstacles that can be and are being slowly dissolved. I trust that my ap-

pointment as delegate from the Botanical Society of America and the Pacific Science Board has helped 

accelerate a greater accord between the botanists of these two countries.”  PSB 1(4) 4-5.

50 years ago:   

C. A. Arnold reports on the death of Rudolf Florin (1894-1965): “The death of Professor Rudolf 

Florin, Swedish paleobotanist, has terminated one of the most remarkable and productive botanical 

research careers of modern times.”  PSB 11(3): 11.

From the 




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By Catrina Adams,  

Education Director

BSA Science Education News and Notes is a 

quarterly update about the BSA’s education 

efforts and the broader education scene. We 

invite you to submit news items or ideas for 

future features. Contact Catrina Adams, Ed-

ucation Director, at

PlantingScience Awarded $2.9M 

National Science Foundation Grant

We are extremely excited to announce that 

BSA was awarded a $2.9 million NSF grant to 

develop and study a new model of profession-

al development for teachers and early career 

scientists. The grant funding will go toward 

developing a sequence of in-person work-

shops and online learning platforms targeted 

toward high school teachers new to Planting-

Science and their students, as well as graduate 

students and postdocs. High school biology 

teachers and early career scientists will work 

collaboratively and learn from each other 

while they co-mentor students on student-led 

plant science projects through the Planting-

Science online mentoring platform. Our co-

PIs at the Biological Sciences Curriculum 

Study (BSCS) will be conducting a rigorous 

cohort-comparison study to measure impacts 

of the new model on the students, teachers, 

and scientist participants. 

This is fantastic news for the program, since it 

will allow us to move to a new platform where 

we can support a larger number of student 

teams, and it will help us to evaluate, improve, 

publicize, and grow this powerful program. 

We’ll make use of our 10-year history and the 

strong existing PlantingScience community 

as we create new online training and profes-

sional development resources. Many of these 

resources will be available to the entire Plant-

ingScience community and will help improve 

the quality of projects overall and give #page

ed guidance to students, mentors, and teach-

ers as they need it. 

The grant will help us to provide leadership 

opportunities for existing PlantingScience 

scientist mentors, Master Plant Science Team 

members, and teachers to focus their acquired 

expertise towards training future program 

participants. We will be in touch by e-mail as 

opportunities arise. 

This new professional development grant 

means we will soon be expanding our reach, 

but other factors are involved with this 

growth. Our expansion in Canada, thanks 

to increased partnership with the Canadian 

Botanical Association, and development of a 

new agriculture module in partnership with-

the American Society of Agronomy will be 

very important in moving forward. In order 

to handle the larger number of student teams 

we’re anticipating, we’ll need more scientist 

mentors willing to volunteer their time and 

share their passion for plants and science.  
Please consider joining us next fall!

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Seeking new PlantingScience 

mentors and middle and high 

school teachers for Fall 2016.

PlantingScience is growing, 

and we need your help!


If you have not yet mentored with 
the program, please consider join-
ing us next fall. If you are a current 
mentor, please consider recruiting 
your colleagues to give mentoring 
a try next year. 

If you have or know a student in grades 
6-12, please consider sending their bi-
ology teacher an invitation to check 
out our website 
and what we offer (free of charge) 
to teachers. PlantingScience is a great 
way for middle and high school stu-
dents and their teachers to learn more 
about what plant science is like and to 
meet and interact with scientists from 
around the world.

Learn more at:

USA Science & Engineering 

Festival, BSA Seeking Local 

D.C.  Area  Booth  Volunteers  

This April the BSA will be participating in the 

USA Science and Engineering Festival held in 

Washington D.C., sharing booth space with 

partnering organizations as part of a joint 

“Plant Presence.” By partnering, we are able to 

make a bigger impact for plant science among 

a sea of biomedical and engineering exhibits 

at the Festival. Over 350,000 attendees are ex-

pected, and we expect that over 10,000 people 

will visit our Plant Presence booth each day. 

This is a great way to capture the public inter-

est in plants and to increase their appreciation 

of how important plants are to our daily lives.

We are seeking local BSA members to help 

us share simple booth activities with D.C. 

area schoolchildren and families at this 3-day 

event held April 15 -17 at the Walter E. Wash-

ington Convention Center. 

If you are in the area and would like to 

share your passion for plants with the pub-

lic, please consider volunteering for a shift 

at the booth. Please contact Catrina Adams  

( if you are interested in 

learning more about the opportunity.

Science Education

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PSB 61 (4) 2015 










What Is QUBES? And What 

Can It Do for You? 

A message from  

Carrie Eaton and the 

QUBES team 

QUBES stands for Quantitative Undergradu-

ate Biology Education and Synthesis.

•  If you are an educator in biology that is on the 

lookout for ways to explain or incorporate 

quantitative concepts into your classes – this 

is for you.

•  If you are an educator in statistics, mathemat-

ics, or computational science that wants more 

relevant biology motivating examples or data 

to incorporate into your classes – this is for 


•  If you are an educator somewhere in the in-

terface of mathematics and biology – this is 

for you.

What is QUBES?

•  We are a leadership team working with a 

large network of institutions and professional 

societies in all areas related to resources for 

professional development in teaching quan-

titative biology (broadly inclusive).

•  Our Hub website ( is a 

collaborative space for sharing teaching ideas.

•  You may have already seen us advertise FMNs 

(Faculty Mentoring Networks), which are 

cohorts of educators with the same mission 

and motivation. They work together to share 

quantitative biology education ideas and cur-

riculum in the same course, like introductory 

biology, the same tool, like NetLogo or any-

thing else that brings them together.

What else can QUBES do for you? Just let us 

know! What can you do for QUBES? Join the 


Next-Generation Careers:  

Innovations in Environmental 

Biology Education  

The BSA is one of six professional societies 

participating in a newly awarded NSF RCN-

UBE incubator headed by the Ecological So-

ciety of America and the Society for Conser-

vation Biology. The incubator is based around 

discovering skill sets necessary for career ad-

vancement in the evolving field of environ-

mental biology, and how faculty, instructors, 

and professional societies can help prepare 

students for next-generation careers by help-

ing to address these skills. 

As part of this project, the BSA will be help-

ing to distribute faculty surveys and hosting 

a small focus group as part of the BOTANY 

2016 meeting.  A report and publication on 

the findings of the project is planned for Jan-

uary 2017. 

Stay tuned!  Many workshops and discussion 

sessions regarding the topic of nontraditional 

scientific careers are planned for our BOTA-

NY 2016 meeting in Savannah.


Science Education

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Round-up of Opportunities  

for Students

By Angela McDonnell and Becky  

Povilus, BSA Student Representatives

With the year coming to a close, you may be 

thinking about what you want to do in 2016—

so here are some ideas! Gathered here are up-

coming opportunities for you to enrich your 

CV, studies, and research. We have four cate-

gories for easy browsing: Grants and Awards, 

Broader Impacts, Short Courses & Workshop, 

and Job Hunting.

Grants and Awards 

Grants and awards can fund your research, 

travel for training or field work, and even 

stipend. Grant/award applications are also a 

great opportunity to plan and articulate your 

research. Besides this list, remember to check 

if your department or university has grants 

suitable for application.

BSA Graduate Student Research Awards


Botanical Society of America

Research Funds

Support and promote graduate student research in the botanical sci-

ences. Includes the J.S. Karling Award.

Deadline: mid-March

More info:

BSA Undergraduate Student Research Awards


Botanical Society of America

Research Funds

Support and promote undergraduate research in the botanical scienc-


Deadline:  mid-March

More info:

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 Student Section


BSA Student Travel Awards

Variable, up to $500

Botanical Society of America

Travel (conference)

Several awards support student travel to the annual BOTANY confer-


- Cheadle Student Travel Awards 

- Triarch “Botanical Images” Student Travel Award

- BSA Section awards

Deadline: early-April, 


More info:

Cross-Disciplinary Training Grant

up to $3,500


Travel (research)

Foster cross-disciplinary training and interaction by allowing graduate 

students to visit labs/gardens with the intent to enrich their research on 

plant evo-devo, as related to questions or processes of microevolution.

Deadline: Spring and 


More info:

EDEN Research Exchange

up to $3,000

EDEN: Eco-Devo-Evo Network

Travel (research)

Allow graduate students to develop and disseminate experimental 

techniques, community resources, and novel collaborations involving 

research on new and emerging model organisms.

Deadline: April 30 

and October 31 

More info:

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

$32k/yr + tuition aid

National Science Foundation

Stipend & Tuition

Support outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported disciplines 

who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at 

accredited U.S. institutions.

Deadline: October

More info:

NSF Doctorial Dissertation Improvement Grant

up to $13,000

National Science Foundation

Research Funds

Provide partial support of doctoral dissertation research for improve-

ment beyond the already existing project (check that your project falls 

within the scope of associated Divisions).

Deadline: October

More info:  Click the “Funding” tab at

Torrey Botanical Society Fellowships and Awards

up to $2,500

Torrey Botanical Society

Research Funds & 


Support research/education of graduate student society members 

(fund field work, recognize research in conservation of local floral/eco-

systems, fund course attendance at a biological field station).

Deadline: mid-Jan-


More info:

Prairie Biotic Research Small Grants

up to $1,000

Prairie Biotic Research, Inc.

Research Funds

Support the study of any species in U.S. prairies and savannas.

Deadline: late-De-


More info: 

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 Student Section


Botany In Action Fellowship


Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Research Funds

Develop new, science-based plant knowledge and chronicle tradition-

al knowledge of plants. BIA promotes interactive scientific education 

about the importance of plants, biodiversity, and sustainable land-


Deadline: mid-Jan-


More info:

The Lewis and Clark Fund for Field Research

up to $5,000

American Philosophical Society

Research Funds

Encourage exploratory field studies for the collection of specimens and 

data and to provide the imaginative stimulus that accompanies direct 


Deadline: early 


More info:

ASPT Graduate Student Research Grants

up to $1,000

American Society of Plant Taxonomists

Research Funds

Support students (both Master’s and doctoral levels) conducting field 

work, herbarium travel, and/or laboratory research in any area of plant 


Deadline: early 


More info:

Richard Evans Schultes Research Award

up to $2,500

The Society for Economic Botany

Research Funds

Help defray the costs of field work on a topic related to economic botany, 

for students who are members of the Society for Economic Botany.

More info:

Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research

up to $1,000

Sigma Xi

Research Funds

By encouraging close working relationships between students and 

mentors, this program promotes scientific excellence and achievement 

through hands-on learning.

Deadline: mid-March 

and October

More info:

Young Explorers Grant

up to $5,000

National Geographic Foundation

Research Funds

Support research, conservation, and exploration-related projects con-

sistent with National Geographic’s existing grant programs. In addition, 

this program provides increased funding opportunities for fieldwork in 

18 Northeast and Southeast Asian countries.

Deadline: mid-March 

and October

More info:


Systematics Research Fund

up to $5,000

The Systematics Association & The Linnean Society

Research Funds

Besides research focused on systematics, projects of a more gener-

al or educational nature will also be considered, provided that they 

include a strong systematics component.

More info:

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PSB 61 (4) 2015 






 Student Section


The Exploration Fund Grant

up to $5,000

The Exploration Fund Grant

Research Funds

Provides grants in support of exploration and field research for those 

who are just beginning their research careers.

Deadline: late Oc-


More info:

CIC Smithsonian Institution Fellowship

$32,700 for one year

CIC & the Smithsonian Institution


One-year fellowships to support research in residence at Smithsonian 

Institution facilities. All fields of study that are actively pursued by the 

museums and research organizations of the Smithsonian Institution 

are eligible. 

Deadline: early-De-


More info:

Ford Foundation Fellowship Programs

$24k-45k, for 1-3 yrs

Ford Foundation


Three fellowship types are offered: Predoctoral, Dissertation, and 

Postdoctoral. The Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of 

the nation’s college and university faculties.

Deadline: late-No-


More info:

The Arnold Arboretum Awards for Student Research


The Arnold Arboretum

Research Funds 

Four awards are offered for graduate students, with topics that focus 

on Asian tropical forest biology and comparative biology of woody 

plants (including Chinese-American exchanges). Check website for full 

information on each award.

Deadline: late-No-


More info:

Garden Club of America Scholarships


Garden Club of America

Research or Training 


Many awards are offered to support botanical research, with foci rang-

ing from public garden history/use, field botany, medicinal botany, and 

horticulture. Check website for full information on each award.

Deadline: January- 


More info:

Broader Impact Opportunities 

It’s not just for NSF grants! Sharing your passion for plants and science with a wide range of 

audiences will develop speaking skills and can help you re-connect with the reason you decided 

to go to grad school after all. 


What it is: A learning community where scientists provide online mentorship to stu-

dent teams as they design and think through their own inquiry projects.

What you can do:  Interact with grade school-to-college students online, as they work on 

plant-focused learning modules in the classroom.

More info:

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 Student Section


Science Olympiad

What it is:

Competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 

team events in each division (middle school or high school). Each year, 

a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of 

genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechan-

ical engineering, and technology.

What you can do:  Mentor local students in person on a variety of science and engineering 

oriented topics and skills, help organize and run competitions

More info:

Local Arboretums, Parks, and Museums

What it is:

These institutions often depend on volunteers to donate their time and 

expertise to help people of all ages enjoy their collections and grounds. 

They may already have programs in place that allow you to lead tours 

or interact with visitors at special events, so that you can share your 

interests and passion.

What you can do:  Lead tours; help organize and run events

More info:  Look up local parks/arboretums/museums online, or inquire at visitors’ 


Short Courses and Workshops 

These are a great way to learn new skills to add to your research. Here are a few of many op-

tions available to grad students for part of a semester or summer.

University of Idaho This two-week course is open to upper division undergraduates and 

early career graduate students. In the course, you’ll gain valuable 

experience and botanical knowledge in the field. You’ll also get 

acquainted with the flora of Idaho in the Inland Northwest. Interested 

students should look for an announcement in the spring. 

June or July

More info:


University of 


This course highlights the biology and systematics of tropical plants, 

specifically the extensive holdings of tropical vascular plants at 

Fairchild Tropical Garden, The Kampong of the National Tropical 

Botanical Garden, and the Montgomery Botanical Center. Field trips 

will also be offered to the Everglades, the Florida Keys, and other ad-

jacent natural areas. Be on the lookout for an announcement during 

the winter months.

June 26 - July 21

More info:

Organization for 

Tropical Studies

Courses through the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) are 

a well-renowned way to spend a summer or semester in the field, 

learning about the biology of tropical ecosystems in Costa Rica and 

South Africa. Course offerings include Tropical Plant Systematics, 

but check their website for the full list of offerings.

Variable dates

More info:

Advanced Field Botany

Tropical Botany Summer Course

OTS Courses in Tropical Field Biology

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PSB 61 (4) 2015 






 Student Section


Arnold Arboretum 

of Harvard Univer-


microMORPH summer short-courses give students a 2-week immer-

sive learning experience amid the expansive living collections and 

the state-of-the-art microscopy facilities of the Arnold Arboretum. 

Topics in past years have included plant anatomy (with a focus on 

wood anatomy), and plant morphology; the topic for 2016 has not yet 

been decided. Applications will be solicited in the spring. 

late June - early 


More info:

Marine Biological 

Library at Wood’s 


This 10-day course features a series of lectures, discussions, and 

bioinformatics exercises. Included are sessions on phylogenetic 

analyses, population genetics analyses, databases and sequence 

matching, molecular evolution, and comparative genomics. Applica-

tions for participation are due on April 4, 2016.

July 17 - July 27

More info:

UC Davis and the 

Bodega Marine 


This week-long course for will cover topics in statistical phylogenetics 

and gives students the opportunity to complete a project during the 

course. The schedule will likely include sessions on Bayesian inter-

ference, divergence-time estimation, MCMC diagnosis and model 

selection, biogeography, continuous and discrete trait evolution, 

species tree inference, and rates of lineage diversification.

March 5



More info:

Missouri Botanical 


This workshop is one way to get exposure and experience working 

with R: a powerful statistical software package. No dates are current-

ly set for the next three-day crash course, but it is likely that it will be 

taught again next May in St. Louis by scientists from the Center for 

Conservation and Sustainable Development. Look out for a formal 

announcement in December or January and watch their website.


More info:


edX, a free online course provider, offers a seven-part course on 

data analysis for the life sciences (PH525.1-7). These courses are 

a self-paced way to learn the using R for statistical analysis, starting 

with basic R use to dealing with genomic datasets. These courses 

combine video lectures, practical exercises, and a discussion board 
monitored by course developers.


Variable times

More info: search “PH525” on

microMORPH Short-Course in Organismic Plant Biology

Molecular Evolution Workshop

Bodega Bay Applied Phylogenetics Workshop

The R Basics Workshop

edX: Data Analysis for the Life Sciences

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 Student Section


Masters/PhD/Post-Doctoral Opportunities

These types of jobs are easily searchable on the “EvolDir” website under “PostDocs” and 

“GradStudentPositions.” Click the icon, and listings will pop up in a list from the newest to 

the oldest. This site shows positions from across the biological sciences but is a great option 

for plant evolutionary biologists.

Academic Teaching Positions

Check the BSA website; click on the “Careers/Jobs” tab, and you can select “Post-doctoral, 

Fellowship, and Career Opportunities” link to see a current list of a variety of job postings. 

The BSA website is a great resource for one-stop-shopping for careers and other opportu-

nities in a variety of botanical sciences. Another good resource for finding jobs (including 

postdoctoral opportunities) can be found through AAAS, at the Science Careers site.

Botanical Society of America

AAAS Science Careers

Government Positions and Non-Academic Jobs

Searches for government jobs can begin and A good re-

source for non-academic jobs is the Conservation Job Board; this site allows you to search 

within various fields by state and is updated regularly. Networking sites like LinkedIn and 

ResearchGate will help you connect with and organize your professional contacts---be sure 

to keep your profile pages updated and polished!

Government Positions

Conservation Job Board

Use your University!

Many academic institutions have offices that focus on helping alumni succeed after grad-

uation. Check with your department or institution for resources on job announcements, work-

shops focused on personal development (such as CV/resume writing or getting a teaching 

certificate), and networking opportunities.

What’s Next: Looking for a Job in Botany

Before you have your degree, or if you are looking to switch jobs, it is important to consider 

your next step, whether it be finding a PI and lab to work in for continuing your education, 

finding a post-doctoral research opportunity, or finding a job that suits your goals and skills. 

Finding out about jobs often happens through personal contacts, but there are great online 

resources as well.

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Ecological Statistics: Contemporary Theory and Application .......................................... 158


Flora of North America, Vol 9 .............................................................................................................. 160

Flora of Oregon, Vol 1.............................................................................................................................. 161


Ecological Statistics: 

Contemporary Theory and 


Gordon A. Fox, Simoneta Ne-

grete-Yankelevich, and Vinicio J. 

Sosa, editors

2015. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-967255-4 

Paperback, £39.99. 416 pp. 

Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom

Not so long ago, ecologists were free to frol-

ic in flowered meadows and poetically report 

findings that “[could not] be merely acciden-

tal, because they so often tend in the same di-

rection” (Bumpus, 1899). And although some, 

no doubt, yearn for a return to this descrip-

tive way of science, it seems undeniable at this 

point that researchers entering or continuing 

on in the field must become fluent in the lan-

guage of statistics. This task is especially dif-

ficult because our understanding of statistics 

has changed dramatically in the past decade 

and continues to change daily. Driven in part 

by access to ever-improving computing pow-

er, many of the statistical techniques used in 

contemporary work were little known a gen-

eration ago—if they existed at all. The ques-

tion then becomes: how do we best teach sta-

tistics to our students and ourselves? 

Ecological Statistics: Contemporary Theory and 

Application is one answer to this question—

and it’s a good one at that. Best suited as an 

overview for graduate students or researchers 

with standard mathematical backgrounds, the 

text begins with basic probability, but quickly 

turns to more specific relevant issues like the 

effects of ecological data constraints on anal-

ysis. Ecological Statistics excels at building a 

working conceptual understanding of statis-

tics rather than treating each topic piecemeal 

as is common in other texts. The value of this 

conceptual understanding is especially rele-

vant for those interested in working with the 

complex, imperfect, and sometimes uncon-

ventional nature of biological data.

The topics covered are diverse, including gen-

eralized linear models, structural equation 

modeling, and phylogenetic analysis. These 

chapters vary widely in technicality, but all 

employ straightforward writing and support-

ing illustrations. Chapters 1–3 are, most sim-

ply, a discussion of the concepts that follow in 

the successive chapters. The authors provide 

not only the basic tools you will use later in 

the book, but also a map of where those tools 

may come in handy. These tools include unbi-

ased data collection, sample statistics and con-

fidence intervals, likelihood, model selection, 

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PSB 61 (4) 2015 










and non-parametric methods, among others. 

The successive chapters use variations of these 

basic tools with sample data to more fully 

develop the ideas discussed. Chapter 4 talks 

specifically about the ever-present and of-

ten-confounding conundrum of what to do 

with missing data, while Chapter 5 talks more 

generally about deftly handling censored or 

truncated data. Chapter 6 is a particularly 

well-written chapter by Yvonne M. Buckley 

that discusses in depth the correct applica-

tion of the generalized linear model, as well 

as many of the method’s common pitfalls and 

complications. Chapter 8 discusses the process 

of combining simple models into more com-

plex causal models, while Chapter 9 discusses 

combining models from different studies into 

informative and transparent meta-analyses. 

The final four chapters cover the correlation 

structure of data, with Chapter 10 focus-

ing on spatial variation and linear modeling 

and Chapter 11 focusing on phylogenetically 

correlated data. Chapter 13 discusses using 

mixture models for overdispersed data, and 

Chapter 13—another exceedingly well-writ-

ten section, this time by Benjamin M. Bolk-

er—examines linear and generalized linear 

mixed models.

This broad treatment of the field has inevita-

bly left some relevant topics out in the cold—

notably, non-linear models, multivariate tech-

niques, and time series—but in general, the 

book gives enough background to serve as 

a springboard for the reader to delve deep-

er into topics they find particularly relevant. 

Additionally, as a consequence of the text’s 

conceptual nature, some readers may find 

a more succinct resource to be helpful later 

when they are looking to perform a certain 

task. The authors and editors have dutiful-

ly placed example R code for most chapters; 

however, these snippets are often isolated by 

substantial blocks of crucial explanatory text 

or supporting mathematical notation, making 

quick reference challenging. It also seems that 

further utility could be gained with addition-

al problem sets for students to work through 


Despite these small gripes, Ecological Statis-

tics: Contemporary Theory and Application is 

an amazing piece of work that deftly performs 

the unenviable task of presenting the “need to 

know” methods of a complex field. While the 

first six chapters alone make this text a wor-

thy purchase, not every chapter may prove to 

be adequate for every course. However, the 

logical progression of the chapters may serve 

well as a structure for instructors to build on. 

This book would be a valuable addition to any 

course asking students to expand their statis-

tical comfort zone, but also easily lends itself 

to self-study for those wishing to join the con-

versation of ecological statistics.  

–Chase L. Nuñez, University Program in Ecol-

ogy, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke 

University, Durham, North Carolina, USA


Bumpus, H. C. 1899. The elimination of the unfit as il-

lustrated by the introduced sparrow, Passer domesti-

cus. Biological Lectures, Woods Hole Marine Biological 

Station 6: 209–226.

Book Reviews

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Flora of North America: North of 

Mexico; Vol. 9: Magnoliophyta: 

Picramniaceae to Rosaceae 

Flora of North America Editorial 


2015. ISBN-13: 978-0-19-534029-7

Hardcover, US$95.00. 752 pp.

Oxford University Press, New York, New York, USA

Volume 9 of the Flora of North America (FNA) 

covers only four families, Picramniaceae, 

Staphyleaceae, Crossosomataceae, and Rosa-

ceae. However, at over 700 pages, it is one of 

the largest volumes published. Volume 9 is the 

18th out of 30 to be published and represents 

1.5% of the vascular families that will be cov-

ered. Treated within the volume are two spe-

cies each of Picramniaceae and Staphyleaceae, 

seven of Crossosomataceae, and 680 of Rosa-

ceae. The FNA is designed for both the bot-

anist and nonbotanist and contains dichot-

omous keys for identifying North American 

species and detailed treatments of taxa. The 

Introduction, which is fairly verbatim among 

volumes, has a very detailed explanation on 

how to read and interpret the species’ treatments. 

While the FNA, by design, covers North 

America north of Mexico, the map of North 

America on the inside front and back covers 

depicts all of North America, Central Ameri-

ca, and much of the Caribbean. Of this addi-

tional land area, only Mexico is fully delineat-

ed and labeled. I suspect this was intended to 

give reference to the area covered by the flora, 

but I think this gives the map an incomplete 

appearance. Likewise, the District of Colum-

bia is listed on the legend for this map, but it 

is not labeled on the map itself. The smaller 

occurrence maps for each species only include 

the flora area. To be consistent within the vol-

ume, it might have been practical to drop the 

extra land area. On the other hand, this map 

design is entirely consistent with all previous-

ly published volumes of the FNA, with the ex-

ception of updates to Canadian territories. 

Within the Basic Concepts section of the In-

troduction, it states that taxa treated in full 

include native species, as well as waifs or cul-

tivated plants that are found frequently out-

side of cultivation. This is further elaborated 

later in the Introduction where it states that at 

least one specimen from each geographic unit 

record should have been seen by the authors. 

In practice, inclusion in this volume of the 

Flora seems generous. Potentilla sterilis has 

had its native status questioned and has one 

historical documentation from 1928. No cur-

rent occurrences are known, and no voucher 

was seen (p. 132). Likewise, Potentilla erecta 

is questioned as being an extant naturalized 

species and is no longer known where it is 

historically reported (p. 136). Acaena pallida 

is known only from a single collection from 

California (p. 325). I think generous inclu-

sion for the Flora is justifiable. Introductions 

of species will only continue so these species 

may appear on the landscape in the future.

In some previous volumes (2–4, 22, 24–26), 

the occurrence maps are range maps with 

shaded regions where the species occur. How-

ever, Volume 9 and other recently published 

volumes have a simplified dot occurrence 

map. Even though ranges have become frag-

mented, I think the range maps are more in-

formative and better represent the species’ 

geographic ranges rather than using politi-

cal boundaries. For instance, one dot occur-

rence in Quebec could represent a geograph-

ic range larger than the combined region of 

all New England states with dot occurrences. 

This might suggest to the nonbotanist that a 

species is only found in Quebec versus being 

found all over New England. It is also difficult 

to detect dots on small political divisions on 

Book Reviews


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PSB 61 (4) 2015 










the map, although this is not necessarily a 

concern because occurrences are listed in the 

species treatments as well.

The illustrations in the volume are very nice. 

Twenty-eight percent of the species in the 

volume are illustrated, including species in 

each of the four families. Other published vol-

umes have illustrations that are easily sized 

to one-half of a page, but in this volume they 

are smaller, closer to one-third of a page. This 

probably conserved space in this large vol-

ume, but there does not seem to be any loss 

of detail. In fact, the Rosaceae illustrations are 

quite detailed, enough so to highlight subtle 

differences between similar species, such as 

those within the genera Rosa or Potentilla, es-

pecially as there are scale bars for each species 

within an illustration—helpful to nonbota-

nists who may not have an eye for the differ-

ence between 1 and 2 mm. Illustrated species 

have a box code of “F” within their treatment, 

but unfortunately within the treatment there 

is no page number listed for the illustration. 

One must either flip some pages to search for 

it (e.g., Geum triflorum is treated on p. 62, but 

the illustration is on p. 52 within the Rubus 

treatments) or find the species in the index. 

The italicized page numbers in the index spec-

ify the page of the illustration, but the font 

used in the book does not allow italic num-

bers to be easily discerned. 

The keys in this volume work well too. For the 

Rosaceae, there is an 18-couplet key to sub-

families and tribes; the keys for Picramniace-

ae, Staphyleaceae, and Crossosomataceae are 

simple and lead directly to genus or species. 

I collected three specimens on the walk to 

my office and had them keyed out and treat-

ments fully read in short work—as the process 

is intended. It took nine couplets to arrive at 

Chaenomeles speciosa, 11 for Duchesnea indi-

ca var. indica, and 15 for Rubus allegheniensis 

(most likely a hybrid cultivar). The couplets 

Flora of Oregon, Vol. 1: Pteri-

dophytes, Gymnosperms, and 


Steven C. Meyers, Thea Jaster, Katie 

E. Mitchell, and Linda K. Hardison 


2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-889878-46-1

Cloth, US$90.00. xiv + 591 pp. 

Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, 

Texas, USA


My first thought on opening this book was, 

“How do I preserve the beautiful dustcov-

er?” My second thought was, “There should 

be some special recognition of Tanya Harvey, 

for layout and design of this elegant volume.” 

There is now a new standard of excellence for 

a state flora.

Book Reviews

are easy to navigate and, in addition to vegeta-

tive information, contain details for flowering 

and fruiting stages aimed at those frustrating 

times when one or the other is unavailable. 

There is no glossary of botanical terminolo-

gy, however, which may make it more difficult 

for the nonbotanist. The Introduction refers 

to the book Categorical Glossary for the Flo-

ra of North America Project and lists a website 

for its online access. The link given no longer 

appears to work, but I found the website by 

searching online for the title. 

This is a hefty book, so it’s no good as a field 

guide. However, the FNA, including this vol-

ume, is also published online ( 

This makes it a useful tool in the lab or class-

room, but the complete 30-volume set would 

be a splendid addition to any botanist’s (or 

anyone’s!) library. 

– Adam Ramsey, Department of Biological Sci-

ences, University of Memphis, Memphis, Ten-

nessee, USA

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PSB 61 (4) 2015 










Cover 2 and its facing page are full-color il-

lustrations of the eleven Oregon ecoregions: 

Cascades, Coast Range, Willamette Valley, 

etc. Cover 3 is the family index, and its facing 

page is an outline map of Oregon’s counties, 

with the county seat of most counties indicat-

ed. The adopted family names mostly follow 

Angiosperm Phylogeny III.

The actual keys begin on page 65. That is to 

say, there are 64 pages of introduction, ex-

planation of keys, and page after delightful 

page of Oregon’s pioneer and contemporary 

botanists, including portraits and extensive 

biographical details. These pages also include 

extensive coverage of “Exploring Oregon’s 

Botanical Diversity,” replete with color pho-

tographs—these are national parks, national 

forest lands, etc. One of the sketches men-

tions Luina serpentina Cronquist, an Oregon 

endemic. I had never heard of this plant, so 

I turned to the index, to no avail. (Not sur-

prisingly, it turns out it’s in the Asteraceae, not 

covered in this volume.) As I subsequently 

discovered, nothing in these opening pages 

is included in the index to this volume. Alas, 

readers can only page through themselves, to 

discover these riches. (Sketches of the lives of 

the four editors are only included on the back 

flap of the dustcover.)

The arrangement of the accepted taxa is alpha-

betical throughout, with the running heads 

dictionary-like. This is yet another example 

of how much thought went into the book’s 

design. All species are mapped; the maps in-

clude dots for actual specimens, plus shading 

to indicate their occurrence in Oregon’s elev-

en ecoregions; furthermore, the names of the 

ecoregions (most abbreviated) are given at 

the end of each description, followed by the 

range outside of Oregon. A great many are 

illustrated with line drawings, which are far 

more useful than photographs. The descrip-

tions are very ample. The authors of accepted 

taxa are given without abbreviation, although 

the authors of synonyms are conventionally 

abbreviated. None of the Latin is explained or 

translated, and no references to type descrip-

tions are given. English names are given; I 

forbear to call them common names, because 

most of them appear to be mere translations 

of the Latin. “Long-bearded mariposa-lily” 

is scarcely plausible as a name that can come 

trippingly on the tongue.

Just before the index, there are five appendi-

ces. One of the most interesting is the fifth 

one, “Native taxa not collected in the past 50 

years.” If I were an Oregonian, I would adopt 

this list as an action plan for plant collecting. 

Table 1 of Appendix 1 lists taxa excluded from 

full treatment because they are known from 

a single Oregon population, or because they 

are mere waifs. Table 2 of Appendix 1 lists well 

over 100 species that have been credited to Or-

egon, but which turn out to be unvouchered 

(for the most part) or with misidentified 

vouchers. I cannot recollect ever having seen 

such lists in a flora before. Their inclusion 

speaks to the care with which the editors and 

taxon authors have approached their material. 

The appendices include the entire flora, not 

just the taxa treated in Volume 1. However, 

only the scientific names relevant to Volume 1 

that appear in Appendix 1 are included in the 

index for Volume 1, but without reference to 

their occurrence in Appendix 1 itself.

There are to be three volumes, comprising the 

dicots. I learned by e-mail that the publishing 

target dates for Volumes 2 and 3 are autumn 

of 2017 and (late) 2019, respectively. The Ore-

gon Flora Project is off to a splendid start, and 

I feel sure the next two volumes will be eagerly 


–Neil A. Harriman, Biology Department, Uni-

versity of Wisconsin–Oshkosh, Oshkosh, Wis-

consin, USA;

Book Reviews

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Plant Science Bulletin

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& inquiry into the form, func-

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reproduction, evolution, & uses 

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Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                                      Fall 2015 Volume 61 Number 4

Spring branches of Arctostaphylos viscida (whiteleaf man-

zanita) draped in lichen (possibly in the genus Evernia).   

Smooth bark and a rich red to brown color are good indica-

tors that trees or shrubs seen while hiking in Oregon and Cal-

ifornia belong to the Arbutoideae subfamily of the blueberry 

family, Ericaceae. The manzanitas, in the genus Arctostaph-

ylos, can form dense thickets as a dominant or co-dominant 

member of chaparral plant communities. The manzanita seen 

here, Arctostaphylos viscida, produces seeds that can remain 

dormant in the soil for many years, until stimulated to ger-

minate by fire, allowing this shrub to establish quickly after 

an area burns. The branches of this manzanita are draped in 

lichen, a separate organism that does not harm the plant, but 

does use the branches as habitat. While the productivity of a 

community is often thought to be driven by the photosynthe-

sis performed by plants, cryptogams such as this lichen per-

form photosynthesis as well and may account for about %7 of 

the net primary productivity worldwide. Bacteria within the 

lichen can also obtain nitrogen from the air, processing it into 

a form that can be used by plants and animals which are un-

able to secure this important resource from the atmosphere.

Photo by Kevin Weitemier, Botany & Plant Pathology De-

partment, Oregon State University.

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