Plant Science Bulletin archive

Issue: 2016 v62 No 1 SpringActions

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PLANTS Grant Recipients and Mentors Gather at Botany 2015!





Hawai‘i botanists com-

plete assessments for 

IUCN Red List of Threat-

ened Species .... p. 4

American Journal of Botany 

kicks off 2016 with two Special 

Issues.... p.7

Introducing BSA’s Education 

Technology Coordinator, Dr. 

Jodi Creasap Gee... p. 34


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                                                                Spring 2016 Volume 62 Number 1


Editorial Committee  

Volume 62

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

Melanie Link-Perez  



Department of Biology  

Armstrong State University 

Savannah, GA  31419

From the Editor

It is fair to say that one of the current trends in 

science is the application of “Citizen Science.” Re-

searchers are relying more and more on amateur 

scientists and the general public for data collection 

and increasingly incorporating crowd-sourced 

data into their analyses. However, this movement 

has not been without its challenges and skeptics. 

In this issue of Plant Science Bulletin, I am pleased 

to present a special feature on Citizen Science as it 

relates to botany.  On page 10, Maura Flannery de-

scribes Citizen Science, discusses the response of 

the botanical community, and argues the impor-

tance of these kinds of projects for plant research.  

Following this (page 16) are brief descriptions of 

projects in which BSA members and botanical in-

stitutions have been involved. I want to send a spe-

cial “thank you” to those of you who responded 

to my request for these project descriptions that 

exemplify the types of citizen science that we, as 

botanists, can undertake. 
I also want to share some important news regard-

ing Plant Science Bulletin. Starting with this issue, 

PSB will be published three times a year (March, 

July, and October). My goal is to produce con-

tent-rich and reflective issues of PSB. Publishing 

fewer times a year will allow us to better focus on 

each issue and to assemble more special content, 

such as we did for this issue. Two other factors 

were important in shaping our decision. First, 

news and announcements are now distributed 

virtually immediately via email, the BSA home-

page, and social media. Updated news can always 

be found at and, 

therefore, PSB has become less important as a ve-

hicle for timely announcements. Second, starting 

in 2017, American Journal of Botany will no lon-

ger be distributed in print, eliminating the need 

to coordinate mailings of PSB with those of AJB. 

I am confident that this will be a positive change 

for Plant Science Bulletin and I 

am looking forward to the rest 

of 2016

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Big Policy Year for Science .........................................................................................................................2

New Funding Opportunity .............................................................................................................................2

“IUCN Red List Assessment Training and Bioblitz” Workshop at Botany 2016 ..........3 

AIBS Policy News Reminder .......................................................................................................................3

Hawai‘i Botanists Complete IUCN Red List Assessments for 90  

   Endemic Species (and Counting!) ......................................................................................................4


American Journal of Botany Kicks Off 2016 with Two Special Issues ..................7

New bush tomato species is the link between botany and an Oscar-nominated  

   Hollywood movie ...........................................................................................................................................8


Citizen Science Helps Botany Flourish .............................................................................................10

Botanical Society Engagement in Citizen Science ...................................................................16

RETurn to the Classroom: Linking Science Teaching and Science 

   Experience for Pre- and In-service High School Teachers ...............................................25


In Memoriam - F. Thomas Ledig  (1938–2015) ...........................................................................30

#OhiaLove Campaign to Help Save Hawaii’s Forests ............................................................33


Welcome to Dr. Jodi E. Creasap Gee, BSA’s Education Technology Coordinator .......34

PlantingScience continues to expand ......................................................................................................36

Seeking Volunteers to staff outreach booth at USA Science and Engineering  

   Festival in Washington D.C. .................................................................................................................37


Conversations about Grad School and What Happens Next ..............................................38


Ecological ..........................................................................................................................................................43

Genetics ..............................................................................................................................................................44

Historical .............................................................................................................................................................46

Physiology ..........................................................................................................................................................48

Systematics ......................................................................................................................................................50

Submit your abstract and register now for the  

conference you don’t want to miss!  

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The BSA Public Policy Quarterly

By Marian Chau (Lyon Arboretum  

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa) and  

Morgan Gostel (Smithsonian Institution), 

Public Policy Committee Co-Chairs

Big Policy Year for Science

Presidential election cycles are exciting times 

for public policy, and 2016 is moving forward 

on the heels of an incredibly important year 

for both national and international science 

policy. One of the most important of these de-

velopments was an increase in federal funding 

for US science programs. Compared to the 

fiscal year 2015 budget, 2016 received import-

ant gains that will help sustain important bio-

logical research. The Consolidated Appropri-

ations Act of Fiscal Year 2016 was signed into 

law on December 18, 2015, and it includes 

$7.463 billion for the National Science Foun-

dation (1.7% above FY2015). 
President Obama’s budget for Fiscal Year 2017 

was released on February 9, 2016. AIBS has 

completed their annual Budget Report for 

Biological Sciences Research and Education, 

which identifies several important updates. 

Their summary indicates that the adminis-

tration is proposing $152 billion for federal 

research and development, which translates 

into a $6 billion increase over FY 2016. We 

recommend you look at the AIBS Budget Re-

port and see how this proposed budget might 

impact your research activities by visiting


New Funding Opportunity

The BSA Public Policy Committee has teamed 

up with the ASPT Environmental Science 

and Policy Committee to craft a new $1000 

funding opportunity—the Botany Advocacy 

Leadership Grant! One successful applicant 

for this award will receive $1000 toward de-

veloping new (or enhancing existing!) bo-

tanical advocacy projects. Such projects may 

include founding a new native plants society, 

facilitating local plant conservation events 

(e.g., invasive species removal or planting a 

native garden), or developing a campaign for 

local, state, or regional representatives to ben-

efit botany programs. For more information, 

go to



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“IUCN Red List Assess-

ment Training and Bioblitz” 

Workshop at Botany 2016

BSA Public Policy co-chair, Marian Chau, is 

facilitating a Botany 2016 workshop led by 

George Schatz of the IUCN Species Survival 

Commission. Participants will become Red 

List Assessors for their specialty area and have 

an assessment ready to submit to IUCN by the 

end of the workshop. Read the article on the 

following page to learn more!


60 years ago:  Victor A. Greulach discusses the academic origins of American botanists. A survey of 

2015 botanists indicated that the top five American universities for granting Bachelor’s degrees to botanists 

were (1) The University of Wisconsin, (2) The University of California, (3) The University of Minnesota, 

(4) Cornell, and (5) The University of Nebraska. The top five universities granting doctorates were (1) The 

University of Wisconsin, (2) The University of Chicago, (3) Cornell, (4) Harvard and (5) The University of 

Minnesota. Forty-six universities provided 98% of the doctorates earned by botanists.  (PSB 2(1): 4 –7)

50 years ago:  Lawrence I. Crockett reported on the status of the American Journal of Botany:  “Five 

years ago we were publishing approximately 80 pages per issue, and it is hoped that in the coming five years 

this figure will double. However, if we are to publish 160 pages per month, the editor of that day will be edit-

ing the equivalent of 20 issues of the 1959-1960 period! The burden on the editorial office will be staggering.
. . . 
Advertising during the last two years has shown signs of improving. . . Circulation increases can also be 

planned on during this period. Smaller institutions are growing and expanding their libraries. The govern-

ment will no doubt continue to pour money into higher education.”  (PSB 12(1): 5)

AIBS Policy News Reminder 

If you haven’t already, join the AIBS Legisla-

tive Action Center ( 

and stay up to date on important develop-

ments regarding federal science policy by 

signing up for Public Policy Reports (http://

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Hawai‘i Botanists Complete IUCN 

Red List Assessments for 90  

Endemic Species (and Counting!)

By Seana Walsh, Maggie Sporck-Koehler, 

and Marian Chau


he International Union for the Con-

servation of Nature (IUCN) “helps the 

world find pragmatic solutions to our most 

pressing environment and development chal-

lenges.” The IUCN Red List of Threatened 

Species is important because it allows experts 

to evaluate the risk of extinction for any given 

species, providing open-source data that can 

be used for research, funding, and conserva-

tion prioritization. The IUCN World Conser-

vation Congress will convene in Honolulu in 

September 2016, which will be the first time 

the Congress is held in the United States—so 

this is an exciting time for American botanists 

to become more involved with plant conser-

vation at a global level.

Hawai‘i has the unfortunate distinction of 

being “the endangered species capital of the 

world,” but a positive aspect of this is that 

Hawai‘i is home to an incredible array of bio-

diversity. Approximately 90% of flowering 

plants and 70% of ferns are endemic to Ha-

wai‘i, found nowhere else in the world (Fig-

ures 1-3). Over 30% of the flora is state and 

federally listed as threatened or endangered, 

and nearly 10% of the flora is already extinct. 

In the late 1990s, a group of botanists came 

together to form the Hawaiian Rare Plant 

Restoration Group. In the 2000s, this group 

officially became the Hawaiian Plant Special-

ist Group under the IUCN Species Survival 

Commission. We come from various fed-

eral and state agencies, NGOs, universities, 

and other organizations, with a shared goal 

to enhance collaborations and facilitate suc-

cessful restoration of rare plant species. After 

Honolulu was announced as the location for 

the 2016 World Conservation Congress, we 

decided to make Red List assessment of our 

incredible endemic flora a high priority.

In August 2015, the National Tropical Botani-

cal Garden (NTBG) hosted Hawai‘i’s first ever 

Red List workshop, at its headquarters in the 

Botanical Research Center on Kaua‘i. Near-

ly two dozen participants from state, federal, 

and private agencies across the islands, as well 

as three participants who flew in from the 

continental U.S., convened for five days. The 

workshop was led by Dr. George Schatz, Cura-

tor in the Africa and Madagascar Department 

at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and mem-

ber of the IUCN Species Survival Commis-

sion’s Plants Conservation Sub-Committee. 

During the first two days, we learned how to 

Society News

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Society News

conduct a thorough Red List assessment. This 

followed weeks of preparation, in which many 

participants completed the online IUCN Red 

List training course. The last three days of the 

workshop, we put what we learned into prac-

tice by working together to complete assess-

ments for selected species. Those on Kaua‘i 

got together to assess plant species endemic 

to Kaua‘i, the island with the highest number 

of single-island endemics at about 250 taxa. 

Those from the neighboring islands got to-

gether to work on select plant species from the 

other Hawaiian Islands. It was inspiring to see 

how much was accomplished in such a short 

time. The whole group was lively and enthusi-

astic, and everyone had a great time. 

Within two weeks after the workshop, Red List 

assessments and reviews were completed for 

a total of 90 plant taxa. These were submitted 

to the IUCN Red List Unit for final review and 

eventual publication on the IUCN Red List 

of Threatened Species. The idea, drive, and 

support for the workshop came through the 

foresight, inspiration, and determination of 

NTBG President, Director and CEO Chip-

per Wichman. Chipper says, “Red Listing 

Hawai‘i’s plants is important because, even 

though Hawai‘i is already globally recognized 

as a distinct floristic region, doing so raises 

awareness and interest in the flora, which un-

derscores threats but can also potentially lead 

Figure 1. Asplenium dielmannii, endemic to the is-

land of Kaua‘i, is an extremely rare species with fewer 

than 50 wild individuals remaining. This species had 

not been seen in the wild since around 1900, but re-

markably it was rediscovered in 2003. The natural 

habitat for A. dielmannii has been significantly de-

graded by introduced plant and animal species that 

pose a constant threat to the remaining individuals. 

The species is managed by Hawai‘i’s Plant Extinction 

Prevention Program (PEPP), and recent collaborative 

efforts to recover the species have been promising.


Figure 2. Cyanea grimesiana subsp. obatae is a mem-

ber of Hawai‘i’s largest radiation resulting from a single 

species colonization event. The lobelioids in Hawai‘i 

include 6 genera and ≈130 species, all of which are en-

demic to the islands. Cyanea is the most species-rich 

genus in the radiation, comprised of 80 currently rec-

ognized taxa (54 of which are state and federally listed 

as threatened or endangered). C. grimesiana subsp. 

obatae was discovered in 1964 in the Wai‘anae Moun-

tains and is one of two subgenera of C. grimesiana.  

The O‘ahu Army Natural Resource Program leads the 

management for this beautiful and exceptionally rare 

member of the bell-flower family. 

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Society News

to new sources of funding for greater conser-

vation efforts.” 

The work wasn’t over when the workshop 

came to an end. This was only the beginning. 

Going through the whole process together 

gave us a clear idea of what Red Listing takes, 

allowing us to establish realistic goals on how 

to continue assessing the hundreds of oth-

er Hawaiian plant species in a strategic and 

timely way, with a push to get as many done 

before the World Conservation Congress con-

venes in September. The groups on Kaua‘i and 

O‘ahu continued working throughout 2015 to 

compile necessary information on additional 

plant species for assessments (e.g., number of 

subpopulations, area of occupancy, etc.) and 

got together during scheduled meeting days 

to conduct Red List assessments and reviews.  

We are continuing these efforts in 2016 as well.

In light of this positive experience, the BSA 

Public Policy Committee is facilitating a 

workshop for Botany 2016: “IUCN Red List 

Assessment Training and Bioblitz” (http://

ml#WS2). As botanists in the BSA and oth-

er national societies, we can participate in an 

important global biodiversity initiative and 

contribute to international conservation goals 

by conducting Red List assessments of the spe-

cies that we know best. The workshop will be 

a full day, led by Dr. Schatz, with sponsorship 

from BSA.


Prior to the workshop, participants 

will be required to complete online training in 

Red List assessment methodology, and come 

prepared with data on their species, includ-

ing occurrences, population size, and threats. 

The morning session will include a review of 

terms, categories, criteria, concepts, and some 

examples. In the afternoon session, partic-

ipants will assess species on their own or in 

small groups with assistance from the work-

shop leader. By the end of the workshop, each 

participant should have a Red List assessment 

ready to submit to IUCN. If you are interest-

ed in becoming an official Red List Assessor 

for your specialty region or taxonomic group, 

please consider attending!

Figure 3.


Silene perlmanii was discovered on O‘ahu 

in 1987 by expert botanist, Steve Perlman. The species 

is endemic to O‘ahu, and very narrowly endemic to a 

small habitat range in the Wai‘anae Mountains. 



apparently went extinct in the wild in 1996. 

Luckily, fruit had been collected from this species be-

fore was lost forever. Several outplanting attempts have 

been made, but so far none have proven to be long-

term success stories. The Plant Extinction Prevention 

Program continues to try new approaches to attempt-

ing to restore this species in the wild. 


Important Links

•  International Union for Conservation of 

Nature (IUCN):

•  IUCN Red List:  http://www.iucnredlist.


•  IUCN Red List Assessment Training and 

Bioblitz workshop at Botany 2016 Work-



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American Journal of 

Botany Kicks Off 2016 with 

Two Special Issues


he American Journal of Botany features not 

one, but two, special themed issues in the 

first quarter of 2016—with another on its way 

by the end of the year.

In January 2016, AJB published “Evolutionary 

Insights from Studies of Geographic Variation.” 

The issue editors assembled a set of original 

research articles and reviews with the goal of 

underscoring the unique insights that can be 

obtained through the complementary and dis-

tinct studies of plant populations across species’ 

geographic ranges. The papers in this issue use 

diverse approaches, both classic and contempo-

rary, to illuminate patterns of phenotypic and 

genetic variation, probe the underlying evolu-

tionary processes that have contributed to these 

patterns, build predictive models, and test evo-

lutionary hypotheses. 

“In 50 years, I hope that researchers will look 

back with appreciation for the effort we have 

made to establish a baseline of information, 

push the envelope with new modeling ap-

proaches, and provide a seed resource that has 

created research opportunities that otherwise 

would not have been possible,” said lead Special 

Issue Editor Julie Etterson.

AJB published another Special Issue in March, 

“The Ecology and Evolution of Pollen Perfor-

mance.” This issue, under the direction of editors 

Joseph Williams and Susan Mazer, highlights 

new (and seemingly disparate) insights into the 

ecology and evolution of pollen performance. 

Broad areas include macro- and micro-evolu-

tionary studies, ecology, and especially mecha-

nistic studies of pollen development and growth 

as they relate to performance. 


“From pollination through fertilization, male 

gametophytes engage in or experience almost 

every ecological and evolutionary process 

for which there are many examples among 

their sporophytic counterparts, including al-

lelopathy, competition, facilitation, natu-

ral selection, and sudden death,” said Mazer. 

“We expect that this special issue will hold 

surprises for those who haven’t been close-

ly tracking research on variation in pollen 

performance and its evolutionary potential 

since its earlier heyday in the 1970s and ’80s.” 


Be on the lookout for yet another AJB Special Is-

sue later this year, “The Evolutionary Importance 

of Polyploidy,” with Special Issue Editors Mi-

chael Barker, Brian Husband, and J. Chris Pires, 

as well as more to come in 2017. Be sure to check 

out our “On the Nature of Things” essays and 

Highlights in other issues throughout the year.  


Special Issue editors work under the guidance 

of Editor-in-Chief Pamela Diggle. If you have 

suggestions for Special Issues, or essays that ex-

plore new ideas, new research directions, or es-

tablished areas with the potential for new ques-

tions, please contact Pamela at

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New bush tomato species is 

the link between botany and 

an Oscar-nominated Holly-

wood movie 

(Note: This press release was originally posted 

online by Pensoft Publishers on February 25, 

2016 at

A new Australian bush tomato species, dis-

covered by a team of researchers led by biol-

ogy professor Chris Martine of Bucknell Uni-

versity, has been named after main character 

Mark Watney from the book and film The 

Martian. The authors, among whom is the 

undergraduate student Emma Frawley, have 

published the new species in the open-access 

journal PhytoKeys

Martine announced the new name, Solanum 

watneyi, in The  Huffington  Post last year 

when he described it as a tribute to the heroic 

portrayal of Watney as a NASA botanist and 

engineer who saves himself with plant science 

expertise after being stranded on Mars. 

In fact, Matt Damon’s botanist character im-

pressed both the audience and the critics so 

much that it resulted in several Academy 

Awards nominations to the whole production 

team. The actor himself received a Golden 

Globe among many other prestigious recog-

nitions including the BAFTA for Best Actor 

and the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actor. 

“This is a botanist portrayal that turns an un-

usually bright spotlight on authentic scientific 

endeavor,” Martine explains the choice. “Sci-

entist heroes are already unusual in Holly-

wood, but a space-deserted protagonist who 

studies plants as a profession is something ex-


However, according to Martine, the decision 

to name the species after Watney also has 

some taxonomic relevance.

“The plant that Watney manages to grow on 

Mars is none other than Solanum tuberosum 

(the potato), a member of the same genus as 

our new species,” he says. 

This connection was not missed by Andy Weir, 

author of the book-turned-movie and father 

of the Watney character, who expressed his 

approval of the name on his Facebook page. 

“What higher honor could a botanist like Wat-

ney ask for than to have a plant named after 

him?” writes Weir. “And to have it be a relative 

of the potato as well? Perfect!”

Martine collected specimens of the new spe-

cies during a six-week expedition to the 

Northern Territory of Australia with his wife, 

Rachel, and their two children. Rachel drew 

the illustration of the species that appears in 

the PhytoKeys paper. 

In order to make sure the new species is not 

in fact a previously known and closely relat-

ed Solanum species, the family team collected 

hundreds of seeds of both species. Thus, the 

plants could be grown and compared side-by-

side in a research greenhouse. 

In the summer of 2015, Bucknell undergradu-

ate student Emma Frawley, class 2017, studied 

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the plants, ultimately gathering and analyzing enough morphometric data to confirm the dis-

tinctiveness of Solanum watneyi. This is how Frawley, a double major in environmental studies 

and Spanish, became a co-author of the present paper. 

The new species occurs in and around the western part of Judbarra/Gregory National Park

where it was occasionally encountered by regional botanists who nicknamed the oddball plant 

“Bullita” after the cattle station that once operated in the area. 

“The nickname started being applied in the 1970s,” said Martine, who studied historical col-

lections of the plant at the Northern Territory Herbarium. “But no one had yet done statistical 

comparisons between that plant and its similar relative.” 

Watney is not the only one being recognized by the botanical community following the release 

of The Martian. In recognition of his botanist star turn, the Botanical Society of America has 

extended an honorary membership to actor Matt Damon, who portrays the space botanist in 

the film. 

A bush tomato specimen of the new species Solanum watneyi.
Photo by Dr. Christopher Martine

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Citizen Science Helps  

Botany Flourish


By Maura C. Flannery

St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY


Citizen science involves the participation of 

the public in supporting scientific research. 

With the advent of online data collection and 

the digitization of information about spec-

imens, citizen science has burgeoned. This 

article deals with how the botanical commu-

nity is responding to this surge, what kinds of 

projects are being developed, and why this is 

important to the future of natural history col-

lections, environmental studies, and the cre-

ation of a public interested in plant research.


Key Words

citizen science; climate change; data collection; phenol-

ogy; specimen digitization



  Manuscript received 15 October 2015; revision ac-

cepted 17 December 2015.


 The author thanks Gordon Uno and Mackenzie Tay-

lor for encouragement of this project, and Kim Watson, 

Mari Roberts, and Liz Kiernan at New York Botanical 

Garden for their patience in making me into a citizen 

doi: 10.3732/psb.1500003

first became aware of the surge of interest 

in citizen science in 2010 with an article 

in BioScience by Amy Mayer on volunteer ef-

forts to document phenology. The term “cit-

izen science” probably originated at Cornell 

University, where amateur birders have long 

been an important part of the Cornell Lab of 

Ornithology’s projects in tracking avian pop-

ulations and their behaviors (Mayer, 2010). 

However, age-old involvement of nonspecial-

ists in natural history is at the very founda-

tions of citizen science. From the 16th to the 

19th centuries, there were very few specialists, 

but there were many people living with nature 

and keeping mental if not written records of 

their observations. Particularly in the 19th 

century, as more people became literate and 

had at least some leisure time, observing—

and collecting—organisms was a popular pas-

time (Barber, 1980). The specimens collected 

and the notes taken are now a valuable record 

of the natural world at that time, and many of 

these records were kept by farmers and labor-

ers, businessmen, doctors, and lawyers (Kee-

ney, 1992). Often the motivation was religious 

or at least moral: Studying nature was a way to 

know nature’s creator and to lead an upstand-

ing life away from the lures of vice. 

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Today, citizen science has different but related 

motives: to document nature in order to assist 

in efforts to preserve and protect it. This is just 

one of several reasons for the current surge 

in interest. The ever-more-apparent effects of 

global warming have encouraged people to 

do something about the problem. One way is 

to learn more about nature, particularly close 

to home. While for some, nature means wil-

derness, more individuals are valuing organ-

isms they encounter close to home; they real-

ize these living things can tell us much about 

environmental change. Another of the major 

spurs for present-day citizen science is the 

ubiquity of digital devices and the resultant 

ease of recording observations and participat-

ing in large-scale efforts to document nature. 

In response to this availability, an increasing 

number of interactive websites allow observ-

ers to input observations. The proliferation 

of such sites has led to a need to coordinate 

them. This is one aim of projects like iNatural-

ist ( from the Cal-

ifornia Academy of Sciences and the National 

Phenology Network, a federally sponsored 

program with the Nature’s Notebook project 


This is an online program where amateurs and 

professional naturalists record observations of  

plants and animals to generate long-term data 


There are also projects created by natural his-

tory museums, botanical gardens, and other 

institutions to digitize the information on 

specimen labels, and often including images. 

Entering data from hand-written labels and 

photographing herbarium sheets are both 

labor-intensive processes that don’t require a 

great deal of expert knowledge; they are per-

fect for citizen science. More and more such 

databases exist, especially since the National 

Science Foundation began the 10-year, mul-

timillion dollar program Advancing Digitiza-

tion of Biological Collections (ADBC; https://


view), in an effort to make specimens avail-

able to larger and more diverse audiences. I 

myself have a small part in the Tri-Trophic 

Thematic Collection Network at the New 

York Botanical Garden (  


This funding has led to still another major 

spur to public participation, the creation of 

several web-based projects for hosting dig-

ital citizen science projects. One of the larg-

est is Zooniverse (https://www.zooniverse.

org), which administers projects in a number 

of fields. As far as botany is concerned, there 

are portals within Zooniverse for transcrib-

ing herbarium specimen label data as well as 

ones that deal with recording natural history 

field observations such as flowering times or 

occurrence of invasive species. All of these 

activities can also be pursued through other 

sites, including DigiVol (http://volunteer.ala., based in Australia but with instanc-

es in many other countries, and Herbaria@

home ( in 

Britain. There are even projects, such as one 

on rare British orchids, that involve both field 

observations and digitizing existing records 



The retirement of baby boomers now seek-

ing interesting and worthwhile ways to spend 

free time makes for an increasing audience 

for such sites. Citizen science projects can be 

intriguing and lead to closer observation of 

and greater involvement with nature. At the 

other end of the age spectrum are teenagers 

and college students who use such projects 

to fulfill service learning requirements and 

to gain online experience, providing market-

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able skills (http://microplants.fieldmuseum.

org/#/education). If citizen science programs 

both in the field and online are to become 

sustainable, young people are particularly 

important. Their engagement could lead to 

lifetime involvement in such work and inter-

est among their children and grandchildren. 

The Microplants project (http://microplants. at the Field Museum is a 

particularly sophisticated example of having 

students, both in high school and college, be-

come citizen investigators. They are taught to 

identify and measure liverwort structures in 

photographs taken under the microscope; the 

aim is to obtain data from a large sample in an 

effort to sort specimens into different species.

The last, but certainly not the least, important 

reason for citizen science’s rise is that the free 

labor it provides is attractive to researchers 

who are always on tight budgets. In the cur-

rent funding environment, this becomes an 

even more significant factor, especially with 

the enormity of t

he job that needs to be done. 

There are literally billions of natural history 

specimens stored away in collections around 

the world. Their labels contain information on 

what was living where at a particular time—

information that becomes more significant as 

the pace of environmental change quickens. 



One area that has been particularly popular 

in online citizen science is the transcription 

of field notes and other records. The Smith-

sonian Institution has a Transcription Center 

(, a hub for their 

projects that include many types of histor-

ical records. This center highlights the simi-

larities between citizen science projects and 

those in the digital humanities. The Smithso-

nian’s multi-year Field Book Project (http://,  

administered through the National Museum 

of Natural History, involves digitization of 

hundreds of field books created by Smithso-

nian scientists. Having them available online 

is a tremendous boon, but their value in-

creases when their content is transcribed and 

made searchable. Public participation in these 

efforts has become so popular that adminis-

trators have to keep posting new notebooks 

since transcribers often finish the job quickly. 

Lorna Hughes (2014) notes that the greatest 

benefit of such endeavors might be not the 

transcribed documents but rather the trans-

formation of people’s experience of interac-

tion with digital collections and of collaborat-

ing to produce new knowledge. With greater 

engagement in primary sources can come a 

democratization of research, something that 

was very much the case in 19th-century nat-

ural history, when women in the Great Plains 

were sending specimens to Asa Gray and Aus-

tralian pioneers were corresponding with Jo-

seph Hooker. 

The Field Book Project now has become al-

lied with the Biodiversity Heritage Library 


about.html), a massive repository for online 

biodiversity literature. Many libraries and 

natural history institutions around the world 

have contributed to BHL, but here again, tran-

scription and tagging can make this reposito-

ry even more useful. In this regard, BHL has 

several citizen science initiatives including 

Science Gossip (http://www.sciencegossip.

org/), a Zooniverse project to tag images in 

19th-century popular science journals includ-

ing Science GossipThe Intellectual Observers, 

and Recreative Science. BHL also has teamed 

with the gaming company, Tiltfactor, to pro-

duce two online games, Smorball and Bean-

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stalk, that combine transcription work with 

gaming to keep volunteers interested and in-

volved (Duke, 



Attention to volunteers is an important as-

pect of citizen science projects. Most online 

projects require a simple registration process 

to screen out the truly marginal; however, if 

the work is not fun or interesting, or in some 

way rewarding, people will not stick with it 

long enough to make a significant contribu-

tion. Most projects have “power users,” a small 

percentage of participants who contribute a 

significant percentage of the output. Learning 

the motivation of these individuals—whether 

filling idle time, learning more about the liv-

ing world, or using prior knowledge—is im-

portant in developing ways to attract more 

participants. Projects often provide incentives 

such as invitations to onsite events, conversa-

tions with scientists, free books or t-shirts, or 

online badges or certificates. 

Another important issue is ensuring the qual-

ity of the information that volunteers are pro-

viding, whether it be nature observations or 

transcriptions. In some cases, observers are 

trained either online or in person in the cor-

rect way to record data. For transcriptions, 

many sites are set up so that the same mate-

rial is transcribed two or three times, and the 

versions then reconciled. These approaches 

are time-intensive and require input from ex-

perts, but they are vital to the integrity of the 

data. New forms of datametrics and other da-

ta-quality tools are making evaluating this in-

formation more sophisticated (Peaker, 2015). 

Many working on these projects argue that the 

way to ensure integrity is to treat volunteers as 

collaborators by providing training support, 

recognition, and opportunities for dialogue. 

Efforts in this area have become more sophis-

ticated, and participants are now seen as more 

than sources of cheap labor. As portals such 

as Zooniverse become more advanced, the 

opportunities for collaboration increase (Jor-

dan et al., 2015). For example, there are online 

discussion forums where participants can get 

their questions answered and their difficulties 

ironed out. 


Broadening the Field

Many projects now have apps for mobile de-

vices, especially those dealing with field obser-

vations. These devices make data entry much 

easier and more timely, and mapping apps 

provide simple means to record the precise 

location of an observation or a specimen col-

lection. There are efforts worldwide to enlist 

the public in entering information about sites 

of pollution problems or other environmen-

tal concerns. Some observers contend that 

the success of the UN’s Sustainable Develop-

ment Goals (SDGs) will depend on masses of 

environmental information that can only be 

provided by large cadres of volunteers around 

the world (Hsu et al., 2014). For example, the 

World Water Monitoring Challenge relies on 

the public to record local water quality and 

share results. There are even projects that en-

courage fishermen and boaters to monitor 

plankton abundance. Mobile apps make proj-

ects attractive to the young and also to those 

who are seriously committed to environmen-

tal protection (Bonney et al., 2014). This ac-

cessibility does bring up an issue that worries 

some in the field: Are a few participants too 

interested, in the sense that they come to this 

work with an axe to grind or a political agenda 

to advance? When Australian scientists asked 

volunteers monitoring koalas how the ani-

mals should be managed, the views of the cit-

izen sciences did not reflect those of the pop-

ulation at large (Rise of the Citizen Scientist, 

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2015). Such biases could call into question the 

integrity of the data, although data analysis as 

quality control should be able to guard against 

this problem.

As with any data, that generated by citizen 

scientists will not be perfect; however, if data 

are abundant enough, anomalies become less 

problematic. It’s important to keep in mind 

that many citizen science initiatives, partic-

ularly those that are web based, are relatively 

new, and therefore they are sure to improve in 

the years ahead, both in terms of design and 

administration. Citizen science components 

now are being built into many grant propos-

als, not only to increase the amount of work 

that can be accomplished, but also to ensure 

that the public becomes more aware of the 

outcomes and challenges of scientific research 

(Bonney et al., 2014). Volunteer participation 

may turn out to be a particularly effective 

way to create a citizenry more positive about 

spending money on science. They will come to 

understand that science is something that not 

only affects them, but also to which they can 

make a significant contribution. In addition 

there is evidence that collecting data about the 

natural world makes the collectors more pre-

cise observers of nature (Mayer, 2010). They 

see more and therefore come to  appreciate the 

complexity and beauty of the life around them. 


Plants are particularly good objects of obser-

vation, especially for the novice, since they 

do not flit or fly way before the observation 

is complete. Also, not to be botanically chau-

vinistic, but there is just much more plant 

than animal life to see on a walk in the woods, 

whether looking up, down, or straight ahead. 

For example, consider focusing on tree bark 

lichens. They are easy to miss, especially in as-

peeding auto or being pulled along by a dog. 

However, on closer examination, there is a  

Citizen science, no mat-

ter its institutional frame-

work, can be a powerful 

force for bringing natu-

ral history back into the 

cultural limelight...Mak-

ing careful observations 

of nature, digitizing in-

formation from natural 

history collections, and 

transcribing the litera-

ture in libraries are ways 

to promote the public 


wonderful, textured world on the bark of 

many trees. It can be so fascinating that taking 

mental notes on observations can easily lead 

to keeping more permanent records, and even 

to joining a citizen science project to share 


Citizen science has grown sufficiently and has 

become such a broad area that many now see 

it as a distinct discipline (Jordan et al., 2015). 

They argue that the close partnership of ex-

perts and amateurs makes this field unique: 

It possesses unique capacities and faces chal-

lenges that need to be carefully explored by 

practitioners as well as by those in such fields 

as science studies. There is now a Citizen Sci-

ence Association (http://citizenscienceassoci- that is planning a peer-reviewed 

journal. I would like to argue that citizen sci-

ence, no matter its institutional framework, 

can be a powerful force for bringing natural 

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history back into the cultural limelight. In the 

19th century, many people studied nature as 

a way to approach God. Today, theologians 

like Elizabeth Johnson (2014) are presenting 

arguments for preserving nature as necessary 

for our spiritual as well as physical well-be-

ing. There are also biologists such as Ursula 

Goodenough (1998) who are making similar 

points. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in 

America’s “Caring for Creation” is an environ-

mental movement that melds natural history 

with spirituality (



I am not going to take that tack, but instead ar-

gue from the emphasis today on civic engage-

ment. Making careful observations of nature, 

digitizing information from natural history 

collections, and transcribing the literature in 

libraries are ways to promote the public good. 

They are good things to do, and just as in the 

19th century when what was good was also 

healthy and fun, the same can be true today. 

Programs such as iNaturalist and Project Bud-

Burst ( provide outdoor 

exercise, entertainment, and education op-

portunities for people of all ages who in addi-

tion are making a contribution to knowledge 

about the environment. The success of these 

endeavors bodes well for this movement in 

the future.

Literature Cited

Barber, L. 1980. The Heyday of Natural History. Garden 

City, NY: Doubleday.
Bonney, R., Shirk, J. L., Phillips, T. B., Wiggins, A., Bal-

lard, H. L., Miller-Rushing, A. J., & Parrish, J. K. 2014. 

Next steps for citizen science. Science 343: 1436–1437. 
Duke, G. 2015. Smorball and Beanstalk: Games that ar-

en’t just fun to play but help science too. Website http://

beanstalk-games-that-arent.html [accessed 4 October 

Goodenough, U. 1998. The Sacred Depths of Nature

New York: Oxford University Press.
Hsu, A., Malik, O., Johnson, L., & Esty, D. C. 2014. 

Mobilize citizens to track sustainability. Nature, 508: 

Hughes, L. 2014. Digital Collections as Research In-

frastructure. Website

article/digital-collections-research-infrastructure [ac-

cessed 4 October 2015].
Johnson, E. A. 2014. Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the 

God of Love. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.
Jordan, R., Crall, A., Gray, S., Phillips, T., & Mellor, D. 

2015. Citizen Science as a distinct Field of Inquiry. Bio-

Science 65: 208–211. 
Keeney, E. 1992. The Botanizers: Amateur Scientists in 

Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill, NC: Univer-

sity of North Carolina Press.
Mayer, A. 2010. Phenology and citizen science. BioSci-

ence 60: 172–175.
Peaker, A. 2015. Crowdsourcing and community en-

gagement. Educause Review 50 (6): 90-91.
Rise of the Citizen Scientist. Nature 524: 265.

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Collaboration Engages  

Local Citizen Scientists

Riverside Citizen Science (RCS) is an envi-

ronmental education and stewardship pro-

gram that engages the community in scientif-

ic observation and research in order to better 

connect people to the natural world.  The pro-

gram was created by a partnership of agencies 

that teamed up to facilitate natural resource 

documentation and research through hands-

on science activities and community partic-

ipation. The partners represent national, re-

gional, and local organizations and include: 

the Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation 

District; the University of California at River-

side; the USDA, Forest Service, Pacific South-

west Research, Riverside; the Riverside Met-

ropolitan Museum; and the City of Riverside 

Parks, Recreation, and Community Services 

Department. The partners developed a strate-

gic plan and made a long-term commitment 

to work together by signing a Memorandum 

of Understanding. 


The strategic planning process was facilitated 

by the National Park Service through a Rivers, 

Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program 

grant that provided two years of assistance 

from a project manager to lead the develop-

ment of the plan.  

A major milestone was reached with the con-

struction of the city’s first nature center which 

serves as a field station for the RCS program. 

Funding came from the Prop 84 Nature Ed-

ucation Facilities Program. A second grant 

through the California State Parks provided 

initial staffing of the facility. 

Currently, RCS partners share intellectual and 

physical resources. For example, the museum 

curator of natural history may call upon a lo-

cal partner to help identify a plant or animal 

for the Nature Spotter app. But to date, one or 

another partner has taken the lead on coor-

dinating and providing staff time/funding for 

each new endeavor. Each agency has been able 

to bring some resources to support RCS, but 

the partners are currently working to:

•  Develop diverse funding sources to provide 

ongoing support for the citizen science pro-


•  Recruit and train volunteers that can help 

lead programs


Botanical Society Engagement 

in Citizen Science 


here is no doubt that fostering public engagement in botany is becoming an integral part 

of the job for many professional botanists.  As Maura Flannery discusses in her essay (pre-

viously in this section), projects that enlist the general public in a significant and authentic way 

yield numerous rewards for both the researchers and the participants involved. Many members 

of the Botanical Society of America are developing such projects or are partnering with orga-

nizations that oversee them. In this issue of Plant Science Bulletin, we are proud to showcase a 

selection of these projects.


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•  Form collaborative relationships with new 

stakeholders, especially researchers at local 


Because the museum has recently received 

funding to facilitate local California Natural-

ist training, one of our strategies is to solicit 

participation from the graduates of the pro-

gram to assist with leading RCS projects. 


Some current RCS projects include: Riverside 

Nature Spotter, Operation Tree Canopy (now 

Focal Trees), Bluebird Nest Box Monitoring, 

and local Bio-Blitzes.

The Riverside Nature Spotter smartphone 

application was developed by Riverside’s In-

novation and Technology Department. With 

the app (or with a camera), citizen scientists 

photograph animals and plants and submit 

the photos that are then identified (if needed), 

mapped, and stored at

projects/riverside-citizen-science. The app is 

available for free download for both iPhone 

and Android systems.

The RCS collaborative 

approach has been effec-

tive at raising awareness 

about the multitude of 

citizen science projects 

that are available to the 


Operation Tree Canopy was the local initiative 

to support Earthwatch Institute’s Urban For-

est Resiliency project. Operation Tree Canopy 

involved citizen scientists who collected re-

search data to help scientists study the cool-

ing effect of different species of urban trees. 

During the summer of 2015, an RCS partner 

the Riverside-Corona Resource Conserva-

tion District hosted training and coordinated 

local volunteers who collected leaf samples 

and tree data including location, size, species, 

and condition. The ground data were used by 

UC Riverside scientists to verify photos that 

were taken during high altitude fly-overs by 

NASA. Thanks to the work of citizen scien-

tists, research data were collected from over 

1300 trees in 45 urban spaces throughout the 

greater Los Angeles region, including River-

side (Figure 1).

Focal Trees is the newest phase of the Urban 

Forest Resiliency project, and it is focused on 

collecting data from 10 specific tree species. 

RCS is helping to promote and facilitate for the 

Focal Trees Program locally (Figure 2).

Figure 1. RCS volunteers learned to measure trees 

and collect leaf samples for Earthwatch Institute’s Ur-

ban Forest Resiliency project at the LandUse Learning 

Center in Riverside, California.


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RCS partners have conducted Bio-Blitzes 

(with many partners) to help document local 

resources, as well as to help US Forest Service 

researchers collect data about how to plan and 

deliver more effective events to connect youth 

with nature.

The RCS collaborative approach has been ef-

fective at raising awareness about the multi-

tude of citizen science projects that are avail-

able to the public. The partnership has also 

brought together stakeholders to help with 

local to international projects that educate 

citizens and help researchers collect data. As 

RCS is still in its infancy, the partners contin-

ue working together to achieve their mission: 

“…to engage our community in observing 

and documenting Riverside’s natural environ-

ment. This program fosters appreciation and 

stewardship by staging and supporting nature 

centered activities. Science, through commu-

nity participation and collaboration, becomes 

a permanent part of our city’s culture and 

identity” (Figure 3).

Figure 2. Riverside’s Envirothon team from Arling-

ton High School helped collect data and leaf samples 

that were then delivered to UC Riverside scientists.

Figure 3. The Inland Urban Forest Council helped local volunteers identify tree species for the Focal Trees 

data collection program.

By Diana Ruiz  

Riverside-Corona Resource Conservation Dis-



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Citizen Science Projects 

and Platforms

There are a variety of projects available for 

people of all ages and interests who desire to 

participate in crowd-sourced science. The 

websites below provide information about 

a sampling of those projects, both for those 

interested in getting involved as a partici-

pant and for researchers who are interested 

in designing a “people-powered” project..
•  Citizen Science Alliance:  http://www.
•  eBird (Cornell Lab of Ornithology): 
•  FrogWatch USA:

•  Herbaria@home: http://herbariaunited.

•  Les herbonautes: http://lesherbonautes. 
•  Monarch Larva Monitoring Project:
•  Notes from Nature: http://www.notes-
•  Riverside Citizen Science http://www.

•  Scientific American:  http://www.scien- 
•  SciStarter:
•  The Smithsonian Transcription Center: 
•  Symbiota: 
•  WeDigBio: 
•  Zooniverse:  https://www.zooniverse.



Internet-Scale Citizen  

Science Through the  

Worldwide Engagement for 

Digitizing Biocollections 

(WeDigBio) Event


he inaugural Worldwide Engagement 

for Digitizing Biocollections (WeDig-

Bio) Event engaged hundreds of volunteers 

onsite and online in transcribing biodiversity 

specimen labels. Over four days (October 22-

25, 2015), volunteers around the world com-

pleted more than 30,000 transcription tasks 

using online transcription platforms. Many 

volunteers attended onsite events at one of 25 

institutions including the Smithsonian Insti-

tution’s National Museum of Natural History, 

Australian Museum, Field Museum, Florida 

State University, Natural History Museum 

of Los Angeles County, Chicago Academy of 

Sciences, Belgium Botanic Garden Meise, Yale 

University, New York Botanical Garden, and 

Florida Museum of Natural History (Figure 

1). At these events, many volunteers played 

transcription games, such as Habitat Bingo 

and GeoLocator, won small prizes, and re-

ceived stickers and temporary tattoos. Addi-

tionally, individuals in more than 50 countries 

participated online. All of this activity gener-

ated an exciting media buzz. Event organizers, 

hosts, and volunteers shared photos, stories, 

and highlights of specimens on the WeDigBio 

Twitter and Facebook pages.  

The transcribed specimens covered a wide va-

riety of taxa: plants, insects, crabs, and birds, 

to name a few. Thanks in part to the relative 

ease of imaging herbarium specimens, many 

online transcription platforms offered botan-

ical projects, and WeDigBio volunteers were 

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therefore able to transcribe labels from plants 

collected local to them as well as from exotic 


In the months leading up to the event, lead-

ers and programmers made enhancements 

to the participating online transcription 

centers—Les Herbonautes (http://lesher-, Herbaria@Home (http://, Atlas of Living 

Australia’s  DigiVol (

au/), Smithsonian Institution’s Transcription 

Center (,  Notes 

from Nature (, 

and  Symbiota (—

and established connections with the WeDig-

Bio website, During the event, 

the WeDigBio website showed dynamic vi-

sualizations of where in the world volunteers 


Figure 1. Citizen scientists around the world volunteered in the event. Orange dots show where 

people were participating and blue circles indicate that numerous people were participating at 

a given location.

were working, a total tally of activity from 

each transcription platfo

rm, live updates of 

social media posts, and images of recently 

transcribed specimens. Information for par-

ticipants, such as locations of local onsite 

events and links to taxa-specific online proj-

ects, were made available. It was also a place 

for onsite event hosts to find games, planning 

and logistical documents, and press materials. 

We are developing new resources, educa-

tional materials, and improved technologies 

to provide a richer experience for all of our 

hosts and volunteers. WeDigBio is open for 

everyone in the community to participate. 

Information about participating in WeDigBio 

2016, for collections managers, onsite hosts, 

and participants, will be made available on, Twitter, and Facebook. Feel free 

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to contact Libby Ellwood (eellwood@bio.fsu.

edu; iDigBio, Florida State University) or Paul 

Kimberly (; Smithsonian 

Institution) directly.

WeDigBio 2016 is slated for October 20-23, 

2016 and we are developing new resources, 

educational materials, and improved technol-

ogies to provide a richer experience for all of 

our hosts and volunteers.

Additionally, iDigBio hosts two working 

groups relevant to this topic: the  Interop-

erability for Public Participation in Dig-

itization Working Group  (https://www.


tion_Working_Group) and the User Engage-

ment for Public Participation in Digitization 

Working Group (



Group).  Contact  Libby Ellwood or Austin 

Mast (; iDigBio, Florida 

State University), if you are interested in join-

ing those groups.
All are welcome.  

By Libby Ellwood and Austin Mast,  

Florida State University


Volunteer Trufflers


n 2010 and 2011, I had contracts with the 

Interagency (Forest Service and Bureau of 

Land Management) Special Status and Sensi-

tive Species Program to look for rare truffles 

in federal lands in southern Oregon. I stood 

up at a Native Plant Society meeting, de-

scribed the project, and asked for volunteers. 

Three people volunteered. One had driven a 

UPS truck—he knew all the roads. One had 

worked for the county looking at sites for ru-

ral septic systems—she did dirt. And one was 

an interested student who turned out to be 

fantastic in the field. We traveled two coun-

ties over several months each year, had a great 

time, and brought in 600 truffle specimens. 

When I told them they were “citizen scien-

tists,” they were very pleased. No downside, 

no problems. I would do this again.
By Darlene Southworth 

Southern Oregon University, Ashland

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Fairchild’s Million Orchid 

Project Aims To  

Reintroduce Endangered 

Native Florida Orchids


ative orchids used to cover Florida. To-

day, their numbers have dwindled so 

dramatically that they can’t recover on their 

own. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden  in 

Coral Gables, FL, aims to solve this problem 

with the launching of the Million Orchid 

Project. The project aims to have the first 

generation of reestablished orchids blooming 

throughout public spaces in South Florida 

within five years. Scientists and volunteers at 

Fairchild have joined with the community in 

the pursuit of generating a limitless supply of 

native orchids using micropropagation tech-

niques. These orchid species include the but-

terfly orchid (Encyclia tampensis), cowhorn 

orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum), cockleshell 

orchid (Prosthechea cochleata), and pine pink 

orchid (Bletia purpurea). More will be added 

as the project progresses.

Beginning in the late 1800s, native orchids 

were torn from the trees they grew on and 

were shipped across the U.S. to those who 

coveted their exotic-looking blooms. Now, 

it is rare to see native orchids growing in the 

wild. Fairchild’s Micropropagation Lab (Fig-

ure 1), which is where the project began when 

it opened in December 2012 as part of the Jane 

Hsiao Laboratories in the DiMare Science Vil-

lage, is where the majority of the Million Or-

chid Project is taking place to ensure the re-

population of native species. Volunteers who 

have diverse backgrounds in science and hor-

ticulture are donating their time and knowl-

edge testing different growing conditions in 

the lab to see which ones work best. 

First, the seed pod—which can generate more 

than 12,000 seeds—is sterilized to ensure no 

contamination. Once it is opened, the seeds 

are placed in flasks containing a mixture in-

cluding agar, charcoal, and banana powder. 

It takes about three months before the seeds 

begin to sprout. Once they outgrow their bot-

tles, the seedlings are carefully transferred by 

hand to larger bottles. Then, they are trans-

planted to the Fairchild Nursery, where they 

continue to grow in mulch-filled baskets until 

they are ready to grow on trees. There are cur-

rently more than 1000 flasks in the lab at Fair-

child. The model for the project is inspired by 

the one used by Singapore Botanic Gardens, 

where they found that propagated orchids 

grew just as well on city trees as they did in 

natural areas.

Dr. Carl Lewis, Director of Fairchild, is spear-

heading the Million Orchid Project. What 

makes this project different from other mi-

cropropagation initiatives is its focus on rein-

troducing native orchids into urban environ-

ments—schools, roadways, neighborhoods, 

etc.—to balance the work being done in nat-

ural areas. Thus, the public will be directly 

involved in the process. “The community will 

play a large part in the reintroduction,” Dr. 

Lewis said.  

Figure 1. Native orchids seedlings in the Micro-

propagation Lab at Fairchild Garden.


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The educational component of the project is 

one of large scale. Terra Environmental Re-

search Institute, a public high school in Mi-

ami-Dade County, was the pilot school for 

integrating the Million Orchid Project into a 

classroom setting. In October 2013, Fairchild 

installed 10,000 orchid seedlings in the school 

for students to observe and grow. They con-

tinued to thrive and were then planted in the 

trees around the school in July 2014, where 

they are estimated to produce flowers in three 

to five years. Due to its success, the project 

was replicated in October 2014 in more than 

30 Miami-Dade County schools that partici-

pate in The Fairchild Challenge, the multidis-

ciplinary environmental education outreach 

program that more than 130,000 students 

compete in each year. To date, Fairchild has 

provided lab units to more than 100 middle 

and high schools (Figure 2). 

For more info, please visit the Million Or-

chid Project webpage at http://www.fairchild-

By Brooke LeMaire, Marketing Associate, Fair-

child Tropical Botanic Garden


Figure 2. BioTECH and Richmond Heights High 

School students prepare a solution for propagating 


Fairchild Garden Launches 

Partnership with NASA


airchild Tropical Botanic Garden is 

pleased to partner with the National Aero-

nautics and Space Administration (NASA). 

For the 2015-2016 academic year, scientists 

and educators at Fairchild and NASA are ad-

ministering plant experiments for middle and 

high school students participating in The Fair-

child Challenge (Figure 1), an award-winning 

environmental science competition based 

in Miami, to determine which edible plants 

might be suitable for growth in microgravity 

aboard the International Space Station’s plant 

growth facility, Veggie. As the project devel-

ops, it may help to provide a more sustainable 

food supply for future long-term missions, 

perhaps even those en route to Mars.



“Since ancient times, people have been mov-

ing plants and adapting them to new environ-

ments,” said Dr. Carl Lewis, Fairchild’s Direc-

tor. “It’s thrilling to think that plants grown in 

South Florida classrooms may someday help 

sustain human life in space, on Mars, and be-


The purpose of the experiments designed by 

The Fairchild Challenge students is to expand 

food options and increase plant diversity by 

testing multiple edible plants that meet NA-

SA’s criteria for size and edibility. Using equip-

ment that mimics the environmental condi-

tions aboard the International Space Station, 

students test factors that may influence plant 

growth, flavor, and nutrition. NASA will use 

students’ data to determine which plants they 

should begin growing in space on the Veggie 


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Veggie is a compact, LED-lit plant growth fa-

cility in the International Space Station jointly 

developed by NASA and Orbital Technolo-

gies Corporation. On August 10, 2015, astro-

nauts in the International Space Station lives-

treamed a video of themselves harvesting and 

eating the first produce grown in microgravi-

ty: red romaine lettuce. 

“The Veggie team is excited to think that The 

Fairchild Challenge students will help to find 

new crops that will nourish astronauts in the 

future on the International Space Station and 

someday  when  we  explore  Mars,”  said  Dr. 

Gioia Massa, Project Scientist at NASA. 

Dr. Massa and her colleagues Trent Smith, Dr. 

Wanda Jones, and Dr. Lester Morales joined 

Fairchild staff in introducing the project to in-

terested teachers on August 29 at The Fairchild 

Challenge Teachers’ Information Brunch. A 

dedicated NASA-led teacher workshop was 

then held at Fairchild on September 26 to pro-

vide teachers from 124 South Florida schools 

with the necessary training to carry out the 

project in their classrooms. Each school was 

given shelving units, seeds, lights, and other equip-

ment needed for students to conduct research. 

Figure 1. Teacher participants of The Fairchild 

Challenge identify seeds to use in their botany labs 

at the NASA-Fairchild workshop.


“This is an innovative and groundbreaking 

program that will give students an opportuni-

ty to participate in authentic research that has 

practical importance and long-term ramifica-

tions,” said Amy Padolf, Director of Education 

at Fairchild. “This is the new face of science 


Offered  free  of  charge,  The  Fairchild  Chal-

lenge was created in 2002 as an environmen-

tal science outreach program for elementary, 

middle,  and  high  school  students.  Designed 

as a competition that appeals to students’ in-

tellectual  curiosity,  The  Fairchild  Challenge 

encourages students to appreciate the beauty 

and value of nature and learn about environ-

mental issues, to research possible solutions 

and evaluate them critically, to modify their 

own  behavior,  and  to  become  actively  en-

gaged  citizens.  It  currently  involves  more 

than  130,000  students  from  more  than  300 

schools including global satellite partners. 
For more information, please visit www.

By Brooke LeMaire, Marketing Associate, Fair-

child Tropical Botanic Garden

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e all hope, I think, that our work might 

have some impact on the world we 

live in. This is also the expectation of funding 

agencies, such as the National Science Foun-

dation, and their expectation is formalized in 

the broader impacts sections required for NSF 

grant proposals. I have not always managed to 

produce compelling broader impacts sections, 

but I want to tell you about our current fund-

ed project where we are working to improve 

high school science education, together with 

some of the successful strategies and pitfalls 

we have discovered along the way.

Let me start off by saying that I believe we need 

scientifically literate citizens who understand 

the motives, practice, and mind-set of science, 

because the ability to use and understand sci-

ence is vital to successfully resolving many of 

the issues that face us as individuals, as a so-

ciety, and as a planet. But clearly a scientific 

mindset is not used, or even valued, by large 

sections of our society. My feeling (supported 

by data) is that at the root of this is a fear of 

science and scientists and a real ignorance of 

the nature of science (Schwartz & Lederman, 

2008). Movements like citizen science seek 

to dispel this ignorance by actively involving 

the public in real science, but I still think that 

without addressing the central issue of the at-

titudes and belief of the public about science, 

even these movements will only be partially 

effective. These problems are what we hope to 

positively affect through our education efforts. 

We have been involved in a relatively nov-

el experiment to train high school in-ser-

vice science teachers and pre-service science 

teachers (science education majors) to better 

understand and inhabit the scientific world 

they are or will be teaching, as a result of pos-

ing the question, “What are the barriers to a 

critical understanding of science and scien-

tific issues?” In part because I work with a 

wonderful and deeply experienced professor 

of high school science education, I have come 

to see that students lack understanding about 

just what science is and how it works. The ed-

ucation community has realized this and has 

created the newly released Next Generation 

Science Standards (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States, 

2013), which explicitly link content standards 

to science and engineering practices and are 

embedded with aspects of the nature of sci-

ence. The NGSS are awesome, connecting 

ideas across disciplines and encouraging stu-

dents to do science rather than just hear about 

it. Twenty-six states helped design the NGSS, 

and I believe that, properly implemented 

and taught, the NGSS will be instrumental 

in changing students’ (and by extension, the 

general public’s) views about science and sci-


The question really is, however, who will prop-

erly implement and teach them?  Are today’s 

in-service and pre-service science teachers 

sufficiently trained and experienced to give 

students the support they need to imple-

ment the pedagogy addressed in the NGSS? 

We think, in some ways at least, that they are 


RETurn to the Classroom: Linking Science Teaching and 

Science Experience for Pre- and In-service High School 

Science Teachers

By Andrew Doust 

Oklahoma State University

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not. Studies have shown that, in general, high 

school science teachers are effective at teach-

ing science content but struggle to articulate 

the views of the nature of science accepted by 

the education community or to model what 

it feels like to actually do science (Abd-El-

Khalick & Lederman, 2000; Akerson, Abd-El-

Khalick & Lederman, 2000; Lederman, 1992).  

This is a key area in which scientists and sci-

ence teacher educators can improve the un-

derstanding and acceptance of science by high 

school students. These students may or may 

not be on a scientific career path, but they will 

all form part of the general public that needs 

to be able to use scientific principles to judge 

what courses of action are most appropriate 

for the many problems that beset the world 


Understanding views on the nature of science 

and appreciating what research feels like are 

We need scientifically 

literate citizens who un-

derstand the motives, 

practice, and mind-set of 

science, because the abil-

ity to use and understand 

science is vital to suc-

cessfully resolving many 

of the issues that face us 

as individuals, as a soci-

ety, and as a planet.

attitudes that can only be cultivated through 

a combination of research experiences and 

reflection on those experiences. In the sci-

ences, we bring students into the lab in order 

for them to experience research, and a simi-

lar motivation is behind the well-established 

NSF Research Experience for Teachers (RET) 

program. Such programs can definitely offer 

a glimpse of authentic research, but it turns 

out that a research experience alone is rarely 

enough to promote understand about what 

science is. In addition, it is also difficult to 

translate research experiences into classroom 

curricula.  With this in mind, we set out to ad-

dress the question of how to instill in teachers 

the sense of what it means to be a scientist, and 

how teachers might best convey that sense to 

their students.  

Our teacher education goals are embedded in 

the broader impacts section of an NSF Plant 

Genome grant, whose scientific goals are fo-

cused on understanding the genetic regula-

tion of branching (tillering) in panicoid grass-

es, including maize, sorghum, and millets. 

As a result of earlier collaborations between 

myself and co-PI Julie Angle, director of the 

secondary science education program at 

Oklahoma State, we knew that we had to com-

bine multiple practices to reach our education 

goals, including authentic research experienc-

es, weekly reflections on research experiences, 

and explicit instruction on the nature of sci-

ence. These practices allowed us to help RET 

participants develop lesson plans that incor-

porate research into the school science curric-

ulum. Such a combination of practices stems 

from Julie’s earlier work in organizing STEM 

research experiences for pre-service science 

teachers in her science methods courses. 

Apart from the RET experience, we have also 

focused on encouraging teachers to develop 

extra-curricular science fair programs where 

teachers mentor their high school students in 

science research and compete

 in science fair 

competitions. As our program has evolved we 


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have encouraged collaborative links between 

in-service and pre-service teachers to support 

the in-service teachers to develop a science 

fair program, as well as soliciting support for 

teachers from their administration. Our mo-

tivation is that if we can make an impact on 

teachers, then that will influence multiple stu-

dents over multiple years—a very cost-effec-

tive way to impact citizen science literacy. 

Some specifics of our approach include a 

competitive application process, a five-week 

RET experience at OSU, four follow-up ses-

sions over the course of the following school 

year to reflect on what’s working and what’s 

not, realistic stipend for in-service teachers, 

funds for classroom supplies, and a commit-

ment from the teachers to get five students to 

a regional science fair. In terms of the benefits 

to my research and the scientific aims of the 

grant, the RET projects have enabled us to ex-

amine the effects of environment on branch-

ing, including light attenuation, simulation of 

shading by other plants, the effect of restricted 

root volumes on shoot growth, and the effects 

of changing photoperiod and temperature. 

These projects are outside the main focus of 

the grant but will be very useful data for our 

grant renewal proposal in two years’ time.

So, how have the RET experiences worked out 

in terms of teacher education? Even with au-

thentic research experiences and professional 

development, it turns out that obstacles still 

exist to teachers truly modeling what it is to be 

a scientist for their classes. The main obstacle 

is time: time to plan, time to implement, and 

time to understand how research experiences 

might be translatable into the tightly defined 

set of topics that teachers have to teach. These 

pressures prevented our first set of teachers 

from being able to start a science fair program 

to which they had committed. 


Therefore, in the summer of 2015, we exper-

imented with pairing teachers with senior 

pre-service science teachers in the teacher 

preparation program, with much better re-

sults. After the summer RET was over, each 

pre-service teacher has continued working 

with their high school teacher partner, help-

ing them set up a science fair program in their 

school. Currently, we have two in-service/

pre-service teacher pairs who have successful-

ly implemented a science fair program at their 

respective schools, and they are working with 

middle and high school students in conduct-

ing research and preparing for the upcoming 

science fair competition season. We are learn-

ing how to help teachers, and thus to really 

help students in middle and high school un-

derstand not only what science is about, but 

also what it feels like to be a scientist (Figure 1). 

Several aspects of our program have contrib-

uted to its success. Most importantly, I think 

the RET works because we really believe that 

we might make a difference to science litera-

cy in Oklahoma. It was also very important to 

the proposal that we could demonstrate that 

we had access to the audience we wanted to 

impact.  Crucial to attracting teachers to our 

RET program was the competitive nature of 

our RET application process and proper com-

pensation for those teachers. Also import-

ant were well thought-out assessments and 

follow-up plans, both for the success of the 

program and to convince NSF that we were 

serious about the outcomes of the program. 

This included an adequately justified budget 

including stipends, living costs, materials, etc. 

for our RET participants.  

Designing projects for the short five-week 

program can be tough, but I am fortunate 

that my main study organism, green foxtail 

(Setaria viridis), grows very quickly! We also 


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get around limited time constraints by germi-

nating plants up to a week before the teachers 

arrive, eliminating wait time and allowing the 

teachers to begin the research process during 

the first few days of the RET experience. It is 

difficult to conduct a longer RET with teach-

ers because they only have two months’ va-

cation over the summer, with schools having 

different end and start dates.

Even with authentic re-

search experiences and 

professional develop-

ment, it turns out that 

obstacles still exist to 

teachers truly modeling 

what it is to be a scientist 

for their classes. 

We have been really amazed by the progress so 

far. The fact that we have facilitated the initia-

tion of science fair programs in several schools 

will be important for helping students do real 

science. The teachers who have gone through 

our RET program also report that they have 

more confidence in doing science with their 

students because they have a better under-

standing of its tentative and empirical na-

ture. One of my favorite comments was from 

an enthusiastic middle school teacher who 

marveled at the sheer tediousness of measur-

ing plant height and branching in her shad-

ing experiments, stating that the experience 

changed her view of the nature of the scien-

tific enterprise from flashy results to the nitty 

gritty of getting good data. Another was from 

the classroom of one of our teachers who was 

starting a science fair team who overheard the 

following conversation between two students. 

Student A said, “We need a scientist.” Student 

B said, “But we have one—Mrs. X, our teach-

er!” After the RET and follow-up sessions, 

teachers feel like they have experience as sci-

entists and can articulate their knowledge and 

understanding of the nature of science (Figure 2).    


Figure 1.  One of our in-service teachers, Emily Harris (Stillwater Public Schools), with the poster she 

presented on her work at our research symposium at the end of the RET experience.   

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Literature Cited 

Abd-El-Khalick, F. & Lederman, N.G. (2000). Improv-

ing science teachers’ conceptions of nature of science: 

A critical review of the literature. International Journal 

of Science Education 22(7), 665-701. 
Akerson, V.L., Abd-El-Khalick, F., & Lederman, N.G. 

(2000). Influence of a reflective explicit activity-based 

approach on elementary teachers’ conception of na-

ture of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 

37(4), 295-317.
Lederman, N.G. (1992). Students’ and teachers’ con-

ceptions of the nature of science: A review of the re-

search.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching 29(4), 

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science 

Standards: For States, By States. Washington DC: The 

National Academies Press. 
Schussler, E.E., Bautista, N.U., Link-Pérez, M.A., Sol-

omon, N.G., and Steinly, B.A. Instruction Matters for 

Nature of Science Understanding in College Biology 

Laboratories. 2013. BioScience 63: 380–389.
Schwartz, R., & Lederman, N. (2008). What scientists 

say: Scientists’ views of nature of science and relation to 

science context. International Journal of Science Educa-

tion 30(6), 727-771. 



Is it possible to replicate this model?  We are 

attempting to do this with our other co-PIs at 

two other universities this summer. We are 

also extending this model to college STEM 

students, as I feel that science students also 

need authentic research experiences com-

bined with explicit reflection on aspects of the 

nature of science to really know what science is.



The effects on their students are also starting 

to show: Two of the teachers just had all four 

of their students win regional science fairs 

and advance to the state competition. Just as 

importantly, there appears to be growing sup-

port for the teachers’ efforts on behalf of their 

students from other teachers and the admin-

istration in their school. 

Figure 2.  Middle school students planting seed for an experiment on the effect of changing photoperiods 

on flowering time in green foxtail.

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In Memoriam

F. Thomas Ledig  



fter overcoming two separate assaults 

of cancer over a span of 20 years, Tom 

succumbed to metastatic melanoma at his 

home in Vallejo, CA. He will be missed sorely 

by his family, former students, and many per-

sonal friends—from home, office, and around 

the world. The collegium of forest geneticists 

and evolutionary biologists will miss his keen 

insights into population biology that he de-

scribed in his papers with such clarity and 

cogency. These intellectual contributions were 

translated into practical strategies, policies, 

and action for conservation of forest genetic 

resources, including genes, populations, and 

threatened species. Tom was a luminary in 

all of his professional undertakings. A cum 

laude graduate from Rutgers, he went on to 

get his MS and PhD degrees from North Car-

olina State University, supported in part by 

a National Science Foundation Fellowship. 

His first major job was as Assistant Professor 

at Yale, where he rose to Full Professor and 

Member of the Board of Permanent Officers, 

before leaving in 1979 to become Director 

of the Institute of Forest Genetics at the U.S. 

Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Experiment 

Station in Berkeley, California. While there, 

he was also appointed Adjunct Professor at the 

University of California, Davis, where courses 

he taught in plant conservation genetics were 

often oversubscribed. Professional recogni-

tion was accorded him by several universities, 

governments, and professional organizations; 

especially notable were Fellowship in the 

AAAS, and the Society of American Forest-

ers prestigious Barrington Moore Memorial 

Award for “outstanding achievement in bio-

logical research leading to the advancement 

of forestry.” But the tribute he cherished most 

personally was a remark in a letter signed by 

former colleagues at Yale: “We miss the joie de 

vivre that left when you left.”

An early and leading apostle of conservation 

of forest genetic resources, Tom gave abun-

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dantly of his time and energy to many insti-

tutions and organizations. He served over two 

decades as Secretary of FAO’s North American 

Forest Commission’s Forest Genetics Working 

Group. Under his leadership the Commission 

was active in habitat protection and seed col-

lection of fast-growing and stress-adapted 

populations of tree species important to world 

forestry. His service was recognized with two 

awards for “significant and long-standing 

contribution” to the Commission. Because of 

his familiarity with forest conditions on every 

continent and broad perspective on conserva-

tion issues, he was able to contribute to many 

national programs and was often invited as 

a keynote speaker for symposia and Distin-

guished Professorships at several universities 

at home and abroad. He wrote extensively and 

poignantly of the depredations humankind 

has caused to biodiversity historically, while 

proposing strategies for mitigation and rem-

edy. Above all, perhaps, were his deep feelings 

for the spiritual and ethical dimensions of 

conservation: “Esthetic reasons are the hard-

est to pin down, but I believe that diversity 

is necessary to the health of humanity. Some 

sense of diversity seems necessary for sanity.”

Tom’s research spanned an unusually broad 

area of forest genetics, from the physiologi-

cal genetics of photosynthesis and growth, to 

practical tree improvement, population genet-

ics and taxonomy. Tree species he investigated 

were equally diverse, including pines, spruce, 

oak, and eucalyptus. But his main focus was 

on the genetic structure of tree populations: 

their diversity, origins, adaptations, mating 

systems, and migration patterns, especially as 

these properties might be affected by climate 


His research often took him to isolated and 

relict populations in remote, almost inacces-

sible locations, such as the Sierra Oriental and 

Sierra Occidental for the rare Mexican pines 

and spruces; Brewer spruce in the Klamath 

Mountains of northern California; Engel-

mann and blue spruce from the mountains 

and sky islands of the Rockies; and Torrey 

pine from the Channel Islands of California. 

Some of Tom’s colleagues, of a more tim-

ber-beast persuasion, needled him for his 

seeming preoccupation with non-commercial 

“trash trees” (as they called them). But Tom’s 

vision was strategic: he chose subjects most 

likely to lead to insights into the evolutionary 

dynamics of populations, that would in turn 

inform policy guidelines for conservation. Of 

course, he also loved the excitement of the 

chase, and its physical challenges; one time, 

during a field trip to the parched and rugged 

Ventana Wilderness of California, he alarmed 

staff when he failed to show up for a meeting 

he had scheduled. But a day later, exhausted, 

hungry, scratched and bleeding—but smiling 

defiantly—he and crew stumbled out of the 

tall brush, holding the bagged quarry in hand: 

cones of the rare Santa Lucia fir from the high 

peaks. Even Indiana Jones might have been 


A main concern was about how population 

fragmentation, whether through climate 

change, habitat loss, or logging might affect 

genetic diversity and integrity of tree popula-

tions, and their ability to continue to evolve 

and adapt. The rare and endangered Mexican 

spruces and pines were thus of special interest, 

because they represented natural experiments 

of populations under severe disruption and se-

lection pressure. Paleontological evidence had 

shown spruce to be much more widespread 

in Mexico during the Pleistocene, extending 

down into the lowlands. Tom and co-workers 

showed how climate warming in the Holo-

cene caused wholesale retreat of spruce popu-

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lations northward and higher in elevation. As 

they migrated, individual populations became 

highly disjunct and often decimated. Some of 

the genetic consequences documented were 

overall loss of diversity through genetic drift; 

the positive association of heterozygosity with 

population census; highly increased homo-

zygosity in some populations, leading to in-

breeding depression severe enough to threaten 

the continued existence of populations; and in 

an extreme case, evidence that Maxipinion, a 

species with only a single existing population, 

also had a maximum of two alleles per locus, 

most at intermediate frequencies—suggesting 

its possible origin from a single seed! A major 

accomplishment, coincident with these indi-

vidual investigations, was bringing taxonomic 

coherence, using molecular markers, to the 

complex and long-unresolved relationships 

among the six species of western and south-

western spruces of North America. In both 

pines and spruces, his work showed that mi-

gration patterns could be tracked with molec-

ular genetic data: populations migrating north 

from different glacial refugia after the last ice 

age lost diversity as a result of founder effects 

and genetic drift. This of course had import-

ant consequences for identifying contem-

porary centers of diversity for conservation 

purposes. He provided empirical evidence 

that heterozygosity was positively related to 

fitness, and the negative effects of inbreeding 

on reproductive health of populations.

His research ended where it began as an Assis-

tant Professor at Yale, over 40 years earlier, on 

the Pine plains and Pine Barrens of New Jer-

sey, in a common garden of range-wide prov-

enance sources of pitch pine (Pinus rigida)

One of the most variable of eastern conifers, 

pitch pine had long intrigued forest ecologists 

ever since Gifford Pinchot first described the 

strange pygmy forest (Pine Plains) embedded 

within the tall forest (Pine Barrens) of New 

Jersey. For its innovative design and far-reach-

ing objectives, his study proposal was award-

ed a National Science Foundation grant for its 

implementation and several other grants over 

the years for its continuation and completion. 

Numerous publications were forthcoming, 

with some still in press. Some outstanding 

insights from this study included demonstra-

tion of the positive relationship between the 

degree of heterozygosity and fitness; evidence 

from genetic data of the origin of pitch pine 

from at least three widely spread refugia fol-

lowing the last glacial maximum, including 

one on the exposed continental shelf; and, 

most interestingly, a remarkable example of 

natural selection: that in spite of potentially 

massive gene flow from the surrounding for-

est, the dwarf form of pitch pine derived from 

a suite of heritable traits associated with re-

production, culminating in the evolution of a 

distinct fire ecotype. 

Not a bad legacy for trash trees. Vale, Tom. 

By Bohun B. Kinloch, Institute of Forest Genet-

ics, Pacific Southwest Research Stn., Berkeley, CA

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#OhiaLove Campaign to Help Save Hawaii’s Forests

Hawai‘i is facing a very serious threat to its native forests. Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) is a 

fungal disease that has already killed 34,000 acres of endemic  ‘ōhi‘a trees (Metrosideros 

polymorpha). ‘Ōhi‘a is the keystone of our forests and perhaps the most important tree 

in Hawai‘i. Currently there is no known treatment for ROD, and it is spreading on one 

of our islands.

Lyon Arboretum’s Seed Conservation Laboratory has launched a crowdfunding cam-

paign, #OhiaLove, to raise funds to collect and store ‘ōhi‘a seeds at our seed bank during 

this crisis. Our collection program will be systematic and strategic, to preserve genetic 

diversity of both at-risk populations as well as those that are potentially ROD-resistant, 

for use in future forest restoration.

To learn more and donate, visit!

-By Marian Chau, Seed Conservation Laboratory Manager, Lyon Arboretum

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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


he Botanical Society of America is ex-

cited to announce the addition of Jodi 

E. Creasap Gee, Ph.D. to the BSA Education 

team! She will serve as the Education Tech-

nology Coordinator and report to Dr. Catrina 


Passionate about science, and biology in par-

ticular, Jodi grew up in Ohio, where she spent 

many spring, summer, and fall seasons in her 

grandparent’s Central Ohio vineyard. After 

graduating from Hiram College in 2000 with 

a B.A. in Biology, she moved to the Finger 

Lakes in New York to attend Cornell Universi-

ty. Jodi’s Ph.D. dissertation project at Cornell 

Welcome to  

Dr. Jodi E. Creasap Gee, 

BSA’s Education  

Technology Coordinator

University’s Plant Pathology Department fo-

cused on the mechanism of biological control 

of grape crown gall



In 2006, after she completed her Ph.D., Jodi 

started a post-doctoral research position in 

Michigan State University’s Plant Pathology 

Department. There, her projects focused on 

bacterial diseases in fruit trees (apples, cher-

ries). From 2007-2012, Jodi worked for Cor-

nell Cooperative Extension as an Extension 

Educator for the Lake Erie Regional Grape 

Program in Western New York and North-

western Pennsylvania. Covering the 30,000+ 

acres of grapes in the region, she provided 

information, recommendations, research re-

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Have you ever wanted to bring 

your love of botany to the 

public but weren’t sure what to 


It’s time for the BSA to help!

2016 Botany Booth In A Box Competition

Booths at STEM outreach events such as 

science festivals, Fascination of Plants Day, or 

other public gatherings provide excellent 

opportunities for informal education about plants. 

However, the activities and materials needed 

for an effective booth can be difficult to develop, 

organize, produce, and gather.  To address this 

important issue, the Botanical Society of America 

Education Committee is sponsoring its first Botany 

Booth In A Box Competition. 

•  Is it factually accurate with a clear 

learning objective?

•  What is its breadth of use and 


•  Is it engaging and interesting for the 

target audience or age group?

•  Can it be completed in a short period of 


•  Is it easy to store, ship, set up, and use? 

(Ideally, all materials for the activity 

should be easily obtained locally or able 

to fit in a standard USPS shipping box).

All BSA members are eligible to submit an activity for the competition. Student members are 

eligible for the student prize. A panel of judges will review applications. 

The objective of the contest is for groups or 

individuals to produce booth activities for 

these types of events that could be eas-

ily stored and shipped to BSA members 

who want to use them at different types of 

events. The activities will be judged on the 

following criteria:

All finalists will receive a t-shirt and are encouraged to submit their activities to PlantEd Digital 

Library (

Finalists will be invited to set up and share their booth during the 

opening mixer of the 2016 BSA Annual Meeting.  


Overall Grand Prize   





Student Grand Prize   


Student Runner-up  


Apply by April 22:

Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and the BSA membership.

Science Education

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Science Education

sults, and extension programming to Concord 

grape growers as well as wine grape growers. 

From 2013 to 2015, Jodi served as the Ohio 

State Coordinator for VESTA and the Pro-

gram Director for the Viticulture and Enology 

Program at Kent State University Ashtabula. 

Most recently, after her family moved to the 

Kansas City area, Jodi changed positions with-

in VESTA and took over the role of Instruc-

tional Designer for the nationwide program. 

She managed online course content for up to 

25 courses each semester, recorded and edited 

lecture videos, and provided online techno-

logical assistance to instructors and students. 

Jodi has volunteered as a scientist mentor for 

Planting Science for 4.5 years and is thrilled 

to have the opportunity to work with the 

team that brings plant biology to the middle 

and high school classrooms. Contact her at

PlantingScience continues 

to expand, seeking 100 new 

scientist mentors to begin 

August 2016 for Fall session

This spring, seven Canadian teachers and 

their students join 22 teachers from the USA 

and one teacher from the Netherlands in in-

vestigations on themes ranging from seed 

germination to Arabidopsis genetics. Plant-

ingScience is gaining attention in Canada, and 

the Digging Deeper professional development 

project will bring in 40 new teachers for the 

Fall 2016 session, doubling our typical session 


To meet the new demand, we are hoping to 

recruit 100 new scientist mentors to help 

with the Fall 2016 session (mid-September to 


Mentoring a team or two takes only about an 

hour a week, can be done from anywhere with 

an internet connection, and is a great way to 

connect with middle- and high-school stu-

dents to share your passion for plants and sci-

ence.  If you have not yet gotten involved as 

a mentor, we’d love to have you. If you gave 

PlantingScience a try years ago, this would 

be a great time to come back to see what’s 

new. And if you have been a mentor for many 

years, please help us by recruiting colleagues! 

New mentors can learn more and register at

Finally I’d like to thank all of our current and 

past mentors who have given your time over 

the years to mentor student groups through 

the process of an investigation, learning more 

about how real science is done and how sci-

entists think, and sharing with the students 

the joy of discovery and the wonder of plant 

biology with the next generation. Students tell 

us every year how impactful the experience 

was to them, and what a difference it makes in 

their perspectives on plants and science. 

“I really liked all the interesting things that 

I learned about plants, but more than that, I 

liked how we could ask the mentor anything 

and he would be able to tell us more. In class, 

we usually follow a curriculum and have set 

things to learn. However, on PlantingScience 

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Science Education

we were able to find out more about what in-

terested us and I was able to learn about things 

that I didn’t even know I didn’t know about 

plants.” – PlantingScience student

“I liked the end part the best, and tying to-

gether our information from this lab to previ-

ous information. Trying to figure out what the 

data means, why it is important and why we 

are doing this is the most interesting.” – Plant-

ingScience student

Seeking Volunteers to staff 

outreach booth at USA Sci-

ence and Engineering Festival 

in Washington D.C. this April


his year, the BSA has partnered with a 

team of botanical societies that the U.S. 

Botanic Garden has brought together to cre-

ate new hands-on botany activities, and to 

share them at a large plant outreach booth at 

this year’s USA Science and Engineering Fes-

tival, held at the Walter E. Washington Con-

vention Center in Washington D.C.  The USA 

Science & Engineering Festival is a national 

grassroots effort to a

dvance STEM education 

and inspire the next generation of scientists 

and engineers.


If you are in the D.C. area, we would love to 

have your help at the booth, sharing your love 

of plants with the public.  

The festival will run for three days: 

•  Friday, April 15 is a preview for local schools
•  Saturday, April 16 (10 am-6 pm) and
•  Sunday, April 17 (10 am-4 pm) will be open 

to the public and to families.

The overall theme of the booth will be plant 

movement, and we will have several interac-

tive activities and demonstrations set up for 

visitors to learn more about plant adaptations 

and plant movements, and to help open their 

eyes to the presence and importance of plants 

in their lives. We’re hoping visitors will leave 

our booth with a greater appreciation for 

plants as active organisms.  

The BSA component of the booth will focus 

on how plant leaf movements (whole leaf and 

movement of small parts like stomata and 

chloroplasts) help plants survive different en-

vironments. We’ll have an area set up for vis-

itors to explore plant leaf adaptations, a Ve-

nus fly trap interactive, and an origami “plant 

fortune teller” game describing how different 

plants fare under different environmental 

conditions for visitors to make and take home.  


The festival is very large, and we expect tens of 

thousands of visitors to stop by our booth. I

you can volunteer, please use the Doodle poll 


brx to let us know which day and time you 

would like to help. We’d like to have 4-5 local 

volunteers to help during each time slot. We 

will provide a quick training on the activities 

and demos at the beginning of each shift.

If you have any questions, please direct them 

to Catrina Adams, BSA Education Director, 


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By Angela McDonnell and Becky  

Povilus, BSA Student Representatives

Grad school is full of challenges, including fig-

uring out how to finish your project and what 

to do afterwards. These are intensely person-

al and complex subjects, full of questions like 

“What are my options?”, “What career is right 

for me?” or “How will this choice affect the 

people in my life?” Even if you have a plan, 

there is still “Can I get the money I need to 

do that?” and “How do I actually get there?” 

However, it’s important to remember you’re 

not the first person to have these questions. 

That’s why we are starting a series of inter-

views with graduates about what life after 

grad school is like—what they are doing with 

their degree, and what they’ve learned along 

the way. 

We’re starting with a conversation with Dr. 

Laura Lagomarsino, who combines phyloge-

netic analysis, field and herbarium work, and 

pollination biology to study the evolutionary 

Conversations about Grad School 

and What Happens Next

history of Neotropical clades of Lobelioideae. 

She graduated with her Ph.D. in Organismic 

and Evolutionary Biology from Harvard Uni-

versity in 2015, and is currently enjoying her 

position as an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fel-

low in Biology, working with her advisors in 

St. Louis and Gothenburg, Sweden. We talked 

about what actually finishing her dissertation 

was like, how she figured out her next step, 

and then a little about what’s happened since 

she started it.

Becky and Angela: To set the stage, tell us 

a little about what your Ph.D. dissertation 

was on. 
Laura Lagomarsino:
 I study the systematics 

and evolution of the 550 species in the cen-

tropogonid clade of Neotropical Lobelioide-

ae, which grow throughout montane Latin 

America. During my dissertation, I resolved 

the phylogeny of the group, described four 

species new to science, and applied vari-

ous diversification models and phylogenetic 

comparative methods to determine that rap-

id diversification in this clade was driven by 

multiple factors, including Andean uplift and 

frequent shifts between bat and hummingbird 


Thanks for summing up so much hard work 

in just a few sentences. What was the hard-

est part about finishing up your disserta-

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tion? If you could go back and give yourself 

one piece of advice during that time, what 

would you say?
Toward the end, time management became 

the hardest part—there were seemingly more 

things to get done than time would permit! 

I wish I had dedicated myself to writing one 

year earlier. Writing takes so much longer 

than you expect.

What is one thing that you wish you had 

done while you were still in grad school?
Outside of those few highly recommended 

Boston area restaurants I never visited, I wish 

I had had more interaction with my disserta-

tion committee members. Their advice always 

improved my thesis, but I only actively sought 

it once a year.

What is one thing that you did in grad school 

that turned out to be a really good idea, and 

that you would recommend everyone should 

think about or try?
I am so happy that I combined field and her-

barium work, which allowed me to develop a 

comprehensive understanding of the centro-

pogonid clade. If relevant to your system, I 

would recommend this to all biology graduate 

students, even if fieldwork and museum study 

do not seem directly relevant (and especially 

if your work is primarily in the lab or at the 

computer). It will enrich your grasp of your 

study taxa and their interactions and may in-

spire new trajectories for your dissertation 

(and beyond).

The Next Step – Life after 

Grad School

You had your post-doc position lined up be-

fore you finished your dissertation. Looking 

back now, do you think that was a good idea?
Yes. It was such a relief to know where I was 

heading after grad school in the already stress-

ful lead-up to my defense. 

When it comes to looking for a post-doc po-

sition, what is one resource that you found 

really helpful?
The other senior grad students in my depart-

ment were my most important resource! They 

were figuring out their next career stages be-

fore me, and ultimately inspired me to do the 

same. They pointed me toward relevant fel-

lowships and postdoc advertisements, and to-

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 Student Section


gether we commiserated about the uncertain-

ty of that particular moment in our academic 


Did you consider taking a non-academic 

route after graduation? If so, what helped 

you decide to take a post-doc position (and 

set yourself on an academic trajectory)?
I briefly considered leaving academia, but 

I’m such an herbarium junkie that the aca-

demic trajectory seems most appropriate for 

me. However, I suggest that all graduate stu-

dents take advantage of their universities’ ca-

reer counseling services before they graduate. 

Their staff will help put your six years of nar-

row academic focus into a broader context, 

including by alerting you to very marketable 

skills you may not realize you’ve acquired: 

project management, budgeting, problem 

solving, intellectual rigor, to name a few.

Your current position is an NSF-funded 

post-doc fellowship that involves collab-

oration between labs at the University of 

Missouri, St. Louis and the University of 

Gothenburg in Sweden. Can you tell us a 

little bit about how you formed this collab-

My two postdoctoral advisors, Nathan Much-

hala and Alexandre Antonelli, have both stud-

ied various aspects of the biology of the cen-

tropogonid clade, and were both collaborators 

of mine during my Ph.D. The intersection of 

their labs’ principal focuses—bat pollination 

and drivers of Neotropical biodiversity, re-

spectively—almost perfectly match my in-

terests. Working with them was an intuitive 

match. With significant help from them, I put 

together an application for the NSF fellowship 

about six months before I graduated. 

I would recommend 

thinking five years ahead 

when you start planning 

for your postdoc. If you 

are on an academic track, 

what skills are going to 

be marketable when you 

go on the job hunt, and 

which would you like to 

bring to your own lab one 


What are some challenges that are unique to 

organizing an international collaboration 

like that, and how did/do you address them?
I am still figuring out how to best organize this 

collaboration. The principal challenge, unsur-

prisingly, is the physical distance between my 

two labs. I am lucky to belong to two large labs 

full of smart and capable scholars, but this also 

means that I have to be very motivated and in-

dependent to stay on top of my project so as 

not to get lost. Frequent meetings with my two 

advisors keep me on track.

When thinking about a post-doc position, 

you have to find a balance between work-

ing on something you know you’ll enjoy, 

and learning new skills. What advice do you 

have about finding that balance?
I would recommend thinking five years ahead 

when you start planning for your postdoc. If 

you are on an academic track, what skills are 

going to be marketable when you go on the 

job hunt, and which would you like to bring 

to your own lab one day? For me, these were 

field pollination biology and next-generation 

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sequencing techniques and bioinformatics. 

Of course, aim to develop these new skills in 

a system that excites you and with a PI with 

whom you can see developing a positive re-

lationship. Also, talk to your Ph.D. advisor 

about how to plan for your postdoc. They have 

been in your shoes and are likely to have great 

insight into labs, projects, or fellowships that 

are up your alley. 

If you don’t mind us getting personal, we 

would like to ask about how you juggled the 

post-graduation transition and your per-

sonal relationships. You and your husband 

(who is also a botanist!) both moved from 

Boston to St. Louis when you started your 

postdoc. How did you address the challenge 

of negotiating the pull between both of your 

careers and goals?
Fortunately, my husband and I are both her-

barium-based botanists, so moving between 

two of the best collections in the world, from 

the Harvard University Herbaria to the Mis-

souri Botanical Garden, was not at all a com-

promise for us! It may not always be such an 

easy transition, but we are ultimately going to 

go wherever my career takes us. For better or 

worse, you and your partner need to be very 

flexible in the early stages of an academic 

career. Open and honest communication is 

probably the easiest way to manage the tran-

sition periods: between grad school and post-

doc, postdoc to junior faculty position, etc.

What is one thing that has helped you to get 

settled in your new job?
My new delightful colleagues at the three (yes, 

three!) institutions I am now affiliated with 

made me feel welcome almost immediately, 

and it is quite fun to begin to understand the 

dynamics in a new lab. That being said, I think 

the continuity between my dissertation and 

my postdoc project has made my transition 

particularly easy: I’m finally digging into the 

questions that my PhD research generated! It 

may have been bumpier if I had changed my 

focal group.

What are you most excited about with your 

new project?
I can’t wait to get to Bolivia and start observ-

ing who is pollinating Centropogon incanus, 

whose polymorphic flowers suggest some in-

dividuals are bat pollinated while others are 

hummingbird pollinated!  Though I’ve been 

intrigued by vertebrate pollination ever since 

working on the hummingbird-pollinated ge-

nus Heliconia as an undergraduate, I have nev-

er performed proper field-based pollination 

biology, and now I get to do it with a leader in 

the field. I’m stoked.

Any last words for those of us grad school 

right now?
Above everything, enjoy graduate school; it 

is a rewarding and fun period. But I would 

recommend that all grad students be aware of 

their timelines as they head towards gradua-

tion and to have an open line of communica-

tion with your advisor during the last stretch 

of the dissertation. If you are interested in a ca-

reer in academia, also keep in mind that most 

postdoctoral fellowship applications have only 

one call a year, and that it is common for the 

funding agencies to six months (or more!) to 

get back to you. This means that, if at all feasi-

ble in your situation, you should be thinking 

about post-graduation plans a year out from 

defense. And good luck!

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You can find out more about Laura’s research 

(and see gorgeous pictures of her field sites 

and the species that she works on) at www.

Want to learn more about NSF’s Post-Doc-

toral Fellowships in Biology? They current-

ly have special focus on projects relevant to 

(1) Broadening Participation of Groups Un-

der-represented in Biology, (2) Research Us-

ing Biological Collections, and the (3) Nation-

al Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI), so check 

them out at!

Reminder: BSA Student 

Travel Awards Deadline is 

April 10

You might be almost done applying for 

grants this season, but don’t forget about 

the BSA Student Travel Awards. These 

are still seven different awards available 

to students from the Botanical Society of 

America, including some awards given by 

sections. The awards include the Pteri-

dological Section & American Fern Soci-

ety Student Travel Awards, the TRIARCH 

“Botanical Images” Student Travel Award, 

the Vernon I. Cheadle Student Travel 

Awards, the Developmental & Structural 

Section Student Travel Awards, the Eco-

logical Section Student Travel Awards, the 

Economic Botany Section Student Travel 

Award, and the Genetics Section Student 

Travel Awards.  

These awards are meant to help defray the 

costs to students of attendance at Botany 

2016 in Savannah, Georgia from July 30 to 

August 3. Each award offered has differ-

ent guidelines for applying. Visit BSA at 

for links to each award and details on how 

to apply.


Student events  

At BOTANY 2016: 

Monday, August 1, Noon -1:00 pm 
Careers In Botany: Interactive Career 

Panel & Luncheon
Monday, August 1 9:00 pm - 11:00 pm 

Student Social and Networking Event 

sponsored by the International Journal of 

Plant Sciences at Moon River Brewery
Both events are only $5 (and include 

food/drink!) so be sure to register for 

these events when you register for the con-


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Forest Plans of North America ..............................................................................................................43


Plant Genes, Genomes and Genetics ...............................................................................................44


A Natural History of English Gardening: 1650–1800 ...............................................................46


Mineral Nutrition of Rice ............................................................................................................................48


Flora of Colorado ..........................................................................................................................................50

Carnivorous Plants of Australia: Magnum Opus ..........................................................................52

Plant Life of Southwestern Australia: Adaptations for Survival ..........................................53

Plant Guide: Maritime Succulent Scrub Region, Northwest 

     Baja California, Mexico ........................................................................................................................55

the purpose of the volume and the logic of the 

book design. The central content of the volume 

is divided into 49 chapters, of which 48 are 

dedicated to specific forest plans in different 

forest zones across the study area. The last 

chapter is an excellent synopsis of forest plans 

of North America and a must read for those 

interested. The majority of the contributors, as 

expected, are from the United States, Canada, 

and Mexico, and include foresters, rangers, 

biologists, academics, researchers, managers, 

and dedicated individuals who are credited 

in developing the individual comprehensive 

forest plans. The volume is engaging but is 

also technical where necessary. 
The detailed color maps, figures, graphs, and 

summary tables used in each chapter will help 

the readers not only to understand individual 


Forest Plans of North 


J. P. Siry, P. Bettinger, K. Merry

D. L. Grebner, K. Boston, and C. 

Cieszewski, editors

2015. ISBN-13: 978-0-12-


Hardcover, US$109.00. 482 pp. 

Academic Press, Cambridge, 

Massachusetts, USA

Forest Plans of North America is an excellent 

volume that captures the successes, 

opportunities, and challenges of efficiently 

executing forest management plans across 

the North American continent. The volume 

has a detailed preface that nicely illustrates 

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case studies, but also to vividly visualize 

the forest zones discussed. Helpful features 

include a list of general abbreviations provided 

at the beginning of the volume, along with 

specific abbreviations pertaining to individual 

chapters; a selected bibliography following 

each chapter, which will be extremely handy 

for readers who wish to dig deeper into the 

case studies and related studies; additional 

references for some of the individual chapters; 

and a nicely organized index at the end of 

the volume. It is important to mention that 

English (or U.S.) customary units are used 

in chapters related to the U.S. studies, while 

the metric system has been followed in the 

Mexican and the Canadian studies. 
Although there is some obvious overlap as 

expected in a multi-author edited volume, 

the reading never felt monotonous due to 

the precise and uniform presentation style 

of the volume. Each chapter is divided into 

four major parts: (i) Management Settings 

and Backgrounds, (ii) Planning Environment 

and Methodology, (iii) Outcomes of the Plan, 

and (iv) Discussions and Conclusions. The 

language of the volume is simple, concise, and 

to the point. The authors have represented 

individual case studies with precision, and have 

objectively highlighted both the successes and 

challenges explored under individual plans. 
Although the volume covers the forest plans 

of the North American continent, the greatest 

emphasis is given to the U.S. examples, 

representing 75% of the case studies, followed 

by Canada (11%) and Mexico (5%). Forest 

plans on the primeval boreal forest zone of 

Canada would have been greatly appreciated. 

It would have been easier for the readers 

if the arrangement of various case studies 

(chapters) would have been subdivided by 

country, and a glossary of technical terms 

would have also been helpful. The volume 

Book Reviews

will be useful for undergraduate and graduate 

students of general and applied forestry, forest 

management, environment management, 

botany, and plant sciences, as well as to 

professional foresters, rangers, biologists, 

academics, and researchers working in 

forest or ecosystem management, forest 

conservation, forest planning, and for those 

working in developing forest policies. This 

will be also suitable for enthusiastic readers, 

journalists, and lawyers interested in learning 

about forest management plans related to 

their specific professions. 
–Saikat Kumar Basu, University of Lethbridge, 

Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Plant Genes, Genomes 

and Genetics

Erich Grotewold, Joseph Chap-

pell, and Elizabeth A. Kellogg 

2015. ISBN-13: 978-1-119-


Paperback, US$75.00. 264 pp. 

John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 

United Kingdom

As an undergraduate majoring in botany, I was 

often frustrated that biology courses tended to 

generalize concepts to animal models—even 

then I knew that much research has been 

performed in plants. I was sometimes left 

wondering, “How does that work in plants?” 

As I moved into upper-level courses that were 

plant-focused, many of those questions were 

indeed answered. However, there was no 

course that focused on plant genetics. If there 

had been, Plant Genes, Genomes and Genetics 

would have been an excellent text for the 

The book is divided into three parts, “Plant 

Genomes and Genes,” “Transcribing Plant


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generally to contrast plant examples, but I 

would have preferred fewer animal examples 

in some cases to present more of the diversity 

within plants. This characteristic of the book 

might necessitate the use of primary research 

articles as a supplement to dive deeper into 

the concepts and bring in more examples.
Nearly every page contains at least one color 

illustration or table presenting data. Each are 

placed close to where they are referenced for 

easy browsing. All tables and figures from 

the text are available from the companion 

website in PowerPoint format, which would 

greatly facilitate an instructor’s course design. 

Also on the website are answers to problems 

posed to the reader after the summary at the 

end of each chapter. Figure 3.7 is a picture of 

snapdragon flowers, and the text refers to it 

twice—once when naming a hAT element that 

was found in the species and again a few pages 

later when describing disruption of genes. I 

think this second reference may be a typo and 

should instead refer to Figure 3.9, a diagram 

of maize pigmentation variations due to the 

insertion of Ac elements at various positions 

in the gene.
There are some other typos, too. On page 18 

the word “and” is used in place of “an” before 

the word adenosine; on page 35 an “o” is 

left out of “homoeologous1”; fungi is spelled 

“funig” in a reference on page 96; Arabidopsis 

is not italicized on several pages; and a few 

punctuation errors caught my eye. I also found 

one content error. Bisulfite sequencing is the 

process in which non-methylated cytosines 

are deaminated to form uracil, whereas 

methylated cytosines remain unchanged. By 

comparing the sequences before and after 

treatment, it is possible to determine which 

cytosines are methylated or not (Hayatsu, 

2008). Page 8 states, “The non-methylated 

cytosines are not affected by the bisulfite 

Genes,” and “From RNA to Proteins,” and 

contains 17 chapters, each of which is 

further broken down into several subsections 

and ends with a paragraph-long chapter 

summary. As the volume totals 264 pages, 

the chapters are short, averaging 11.5 pages, 

including references at the end of each. This 

makes it simple to cover a chapter or so per 

week. The book is designed for upper-level 

undergraduates and graduate students; it 

is not a beginner’s book. There is a short 

introduction that reviews basic plant anatomy 

and morphology. The first chapter, “Plant 

Genetic Material,” could be considered a 

review of general genetics, e.g., describing 

nucleotides and the structures of the double 

helix and chromosomes, but the rest is written 

as if the reader should understand basic 

concepts of transcription, translation, and 

protein expression. It even covers topics that 

my undergraduate genetics course did not, 

such as transposons (Chapter 3), organellar 

genomes (Chapter 5), small RNAs (Chapter 

11), and protein targeting (Chapter 16).
The language of the book is not as formal as one 

would expect from the primary literature, so it 

reads fairly easily, even in the heavier chapters 

of transcription factors and RNA processing. 

This may make it more understandable to the 

undergraduate. Likewise, the use of metaphors 

helps to convey concepts. For instance, the 

space shuttle and launch pad are used to 

illustrate the RNP-II pre-initiation complex 

(sec. 8.4) and the structure of the university 

is used to explain the hierarchical nature of 

transcription factor regulatory networks (sec. 

9.9). To cover all of these topics, the authors 

do not delve too deeply into them. Many 

times a concept or example is explained but 

not necessarily the evolutionary sequences 

that may have led to it nor how it fits into the 

larger picture. Although the book is plant-

specific, animal examples are used freely, 

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treatment, and thus remain the same (Figure 

1.5b).” The caption for Figure 1.5 does indeed 

word this correctly, as does the discussion 

on bisulfite sequencing on page 178, “In 

this technique DNA is treated with sodium 

bisulfite, which converts all unmethylated C, 

but not m


C, residues to U.” In addition, the 

text states the size range of the mitochondrial 

genomes of plants is 200–2740 kb, and there 

are no mentions of chromosomes in organellar 

genomes. Recently, the upper range limit has 

been extended to 10 mb, and some are now 

calling parts of the mitochondrial genome 

chromosomes (Wu et al., 2015).
Taken for content, though, this is a nice book. 

It is a bit condensed in some areas, but looking 

to the primary literature for extra material 

would easily supplement the text. This would 

also help to bring in the latest findings that 

were not known at the time of publication. 

Anyone considering designing a course on 

plant genomes should consider this text. It 

briefly, but thoroughly, covers many diverse 

topics, and the tripartite design offers a natural 

three-unit course. I, for one, will keep it in 

mind when I have the opportunity.
–Adam J. Ramsey, Department of Biological 

Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, 

Tennessee, USA;

Literature Cited

Hayatsu, H., M. Shiraishi, and K. Negishi. 2008. Bisul-

fite modification for analysis of DNA methylation. 

Unit 6.10, Chapter 6 in 

Current Protocols in Nucleic 

Acid Chemistry. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, New 

Jersey, USA. 

Wu, Z., J. M. Cuthbert, D. R. Taylor, and D. B. Sloan. 

2015. The massive mitochondrial genome of the 


Silene noctiflora is evolving by gain 

or loss of entire chromosomes. 

Proceedings of the 

National Academy of Sciences 112(33): 10185–



A Natural History of 

English Gardening: 1650–


Mark Laird


ISBN-13: 978-0-300-19636-8

Cloth, US$75.00. 440 + xxi pp.

Yale University Press, London, 

United Kingdom

“The garden,” Mark Laird writes in A Natural 

History of English Gardening: 1650-1800

exists “at the intersection of the wild and 

domesticated” (p. 349). In this book, Laird 

presents a thorough, thoughtful account of 

the relationships—between plants, people, 

animals, and ideas—that characterized 

gardening and linked it with natural history 

in late 17th- and 18th-century England. As 

with his previous work on English gardening 

(e.g., Laird, 1999), the author approaches 

his subject as a story of people, exploring 

150 years of gardening by weaving together 

the stories of the individuals whose gardens, 

books, art, and letters reveal the horticultural 

trends of their age.
The book progresses in a generally 

chronological manner, although Laird takes 

care that strict adherence to chronology 

does not interfere with the natural flow of his 

storytelling. Accordingly, and as the author 

fully admits, this book at times “inclines to the 

fragmentary” (p. 329); this is, however, one of 

its strengths, as it allows individual fragments 

of history to gradually gain significance in 

relation to each other. Laird uses as his primary 

sources paintings, drawings, other botanical 

and natural history illustrations, historical 

maps and garden diagrams, personal journals, 

and a plethora of letters. These letters, sent 

between garden owners, garden designers, 

botanists, and others, are extensively quoted 

Book Reviews

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animals, and weather (White, 1789) began as 

a record of his garden. The role of the garden 

as a “laboratory of empirical science” (p. 349), 

on the other hand, is perhaps exemplified by 

the constant, creative efforts of horticulturists 

to see what exotic plants would grow in the 

English climate.
The majority of the book’s 341 figures are 

botanical illustrations by artists including 

Mark Catesby, Georg Dionysius Ehret, 

Jacobus van Huysum, Thomas Robbins the 

Elder, Alexander Marshal, Everhard Kick, and 

James Sowerby. Other illustrations include 

maps, portraits, and depictions of animals. I 

was particularly struck by the gorgeous cut-

paper collage botanical illustrations of Mary 

Delany. And I would be remiss if I did not also 

mention the author’s beautiful reconstructions 

of historical gardens, drawn from written 

descriptions and garden plans, which begin 

each chapter. 
Laird’s use of botanical nomenclature is, for 

the most part, accurate and current. I only 

noticed a few nomenclatural errors, viz.: 

Myrica cerifera rather than Morella cerifera 

(p. 240), Eugenia suborbiculare [sic] rather 

than  Syzygium suborbiculare (p. 274), and 

Aster cordifolius and A. dumosus rather than 

Symphyotrichum cordifolium and S. dumosum

respectively (p. 306). The book concludes with 

38 pages of endnotes, including full citations 

of all works mentioned in the text, followed 

by an index. The 15-page index, prepared 

by Meg Davies, is comprehensive. My only, 

albeit minor, complaint is that many plants 

are indexed under common names only, with 

parenthetical references to scientific names.
A Natural History of English Gardening: 

1650–1800 is likely not of direct professional 

relevance to most botanists; as a scholarly 

work, it will primarily be of importance 

throughout the book and provide a window 

not only on the human interactions on which 

gardening depends but also on a detailed 

record of meteorological and phenological 

Over the course of the book’s seven chapters, 

Laird elegantly lays out the connections 

between horticulture and natural history in 

England in the years 1650–1800. Each chapter 

focuses primarily on a set of distinct (but not 

discrete) ideas: Chapter 3, for example, centers 

on the importation of exotic plants for British 

horticulture and the art depicting those plants, 

topics which remain important throughout 

the entire book. Other threads that tie the 

book together include the conscious rejection 

of a history of gardening defined by famous 

garden designers (Walpole, 1780) in favor 

of one that emphasizes the people, plants, 

and creatures that inhabit garden spaces, 

and constant attention to the role of (mainly 

aristocratic) women as leaders in gardening 

and natural history, as the financial patrons 

of botanical gardens and excursions but also 

as instigators and investigators who decided 

what plants to feature in their landscapes or 

became accomplished botanical illustrators 

and taxonomists.
The connections between gardening and 

natural history explored in this volume 

are wide-ranging. They include such 

straightforward matters as the origins of 

the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in the 

private gardens of the Prince and Princess 

of Wales and the impact of the importation 

of exotic plants from Britain’s colonies in the 

Americas, Asia, and elsewhere—initially for 

horticultural purposes—on the burgeoning 

science of Linnaean plant taxonomy. Some 

of the links, though, are less obvious. For 

example, Gilbert White’s celebrated collection 

of natural history data concerning plants, 

Book Reviews

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to historians of English horticulture. 

Nevertheless, I think that many botanists will 

find this to be an enjoyable read, particularly if 

they are intrigued by the role of the garden as a 

place to study both the wild and the cultivated, 

where curious mixtures of native and exotic 

plants mediate connections between humans, 

other animals, and the vegetative world. This 

is, in multiple ways, a book “about the nature 

of gardening” (p. 5), and I recommend it to 

anyone interested in the history or practice of 

—Ian D. Medeiros, College of the Atlantic, Bar 

Harbor, Maine, USA

Literature Cited

Laird, M. 1999. The Flowering of the Landscape Gar-

den: English Pleasure Grounds 1720–1800. University 

of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 


Walpole, H. 1780. The History of the Modern Taste in 

Gardening. Strawberry Hill Press [published by the 

author], London, United Kingdom.

White, G. 1789. The Natural History and Antiquities 

of Selborne. Printed by T. Bensley for B. White and 

Son, at Horace’s Head, Fleet Street, London, United 



Mineral Nutrition of Rice

Nand Kumar Fageria


 ISBN-13: 978-1-4665-5806-9

Hardcover, US$157.95. 586 pp.


CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 

Boca Raton, Florida, USA

Plant growth and development require the 

supply, uptake, and utilization of essential 

nutrients. Efficient utilization of mineral 

nutrition is critical for crop production 

practices, including yield increase, cost 

reduction, quality improvement, and control 

of environmental pollution. An excellent 

textbook (Epstein and Bloom, 2005) and 

a general reference (Marschner, 2012) are 

available on the subject of plant mineral 

nutrition; however, no monograph has been 

specifically devoted to rice (Oryza sativa L.), 

one of the most important crops in the world. 

Mineral Nutrition of Rice, an interesting 

volume written by Dr. Nand Fageria, aims to 

fill this gap. Unlike other major food crops 

such as wheat and corn, the majority of rice 

varieties are grown in lowland regions or 

under flooded soil conditions. Dr. Fageria’s 

book effectively examines the unique features 

of mineral nutrient requirements in rice 

The volume is logically arranged into 15 

chapters. An introductory chapter provides 

essential background knowledge of rice 

ecophysiology, including plant growth stages, 

external cultivation conditions, yield analysis, 

and responses to biotic and abiotic stresses. 

The first set of chapters (Chapters 2–4) cover 

the three most yield-limiting macronutrients: 

nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium 

(K). The next set of chapters (Chapters 5 and 

6) focus on the other three macronutrients: 

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calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur 

(S). The eight chapters (Chapters 7–14) that 

follow examine the essential micronutrients 

one by one: zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese 

(Mn), iron (Fe), boron (B), molybdenum 

(Mo), chlorine (Cl), and nickel (Ni). The last 

chapter (Chapter 15) is devoted to silicon (Si), 

which is the most important beneficial (but 

not essential) element for rice growth.
The 14 nutrient chapters (Chapters 2–15) 

have similar organizational structures. Every 

chapter includes an introduction, followed by 

sections addressing nutrient cycling in soil-

plant system functions, deficiency symptoms, 

uptake in plant tissue, management practices, 

and a conclusion. Additionally, sections on 

use efficiency and harvest index are included 

in most chapters. Iron toxicity in lowland rice 

is particularly discussed in Chapter 10. The 

management practice section covers effective 

nutrient sources, appropriate application 

methods and timing, adequate rates, the use 

of efficient genotypes, and more element-

specific information. The conclusion section 

summarizes take-home messages distilled 

from each chapter. Most of the knowledge and 

data presented are specific to rice. Research 

examples from various rice cultivation 

ecosystems are integrated in the volume. The 

differences of mineral nutrient requirements 

in multiple lowland and upland rice cultivars 

are compared and discussed in detail. As an 

internationally recognized expert in mineral 

nutrition for crop plants, Dr. Fageria proposes 

valuable recommendations for the judicious 

use of fertilizers throughout the book.
This volume contains plenty of useful 

information for rice researchers and breeders. 

It includes 247 illustrations, 200 tables, and 

numerous research examples. Most of them 

are adapted from important research papers 

and review articles in the field. In order to 

clearly display the phenotypes caused by 

diagnosed nutrient deficiencies and toxicities, 

31 illustrations are presented as high-quality 

color figures. The index has been carefully 

designed to contain both primary terms and 

sub-terms, which facilitates the efficient search 

of any given topic. Every chapter contains 

detailed citations and a complete reference list. 

Readers can easily find additional information 

on their topics of interest by looking up the 

relevant literature in the reference list.
The writing style of this book is rather practical. 

Theoretical explanations of general principles 

in plant mineral nutrition research have been 

kept to a minimum. Data presented in the 

book are largely descriptive, with very little 

discussion of the molecular mechanisms of 

nutrient transport and function. On the other 

hand, research topics relevant to agricultural 

practices have been emphasized throughout 

the book. For example, in the discussion of 

the role of nitrogen in rice growth, multiple 

research examples are presented to explain the 

influence of nitrogen supply on key agronomic 

traits, such as plant height, tiller number, 

panicle length and density, spikelet sterility, 

root length, and dry weight. In addition to 

summarizing our current knowledge on rice 

mineral nutrition, this volume focuses on its 

practical applications in grain production. 

The book successfully connects research 

investigations in the lab with real-world 

agricultural practices.
Overall, this book is a valuable and 

comprehensive guide on the management 

practices of rice mineral nutrition. Rice 

researchers and breeders should have this 

volume on their bookshelves as a reference. 

The book is not suitable for classroom use 

as a primary textbook as it would be difficult 

for beginners in the field to fully digest its 

content. Instead, the volume may serve well as 

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a complementary reference text for students. 

Depending on the aims of a given course, 

selected chapters or sections could be assigned 

as materials for further reading.
There is room for improvement when the 

author prepares the next edition. Individual 

mineral nutrition elements have been 

adequately discussed, but a new chapter could 

be added to further describe the relationships 

and interactions among those elements. 

The physiological and biochemical effects 

of multiple mineral nutrients on rice plant 

growth and grain yield should be investigated 

in an integrative way.
–Hao Peng, Department of Crop and Soil Sci-

ences, Washington State University, Pullman, 

Washington, USA.

Literature Cited

Epstein, E., and A. J. Bloom. 2005. 

Mineral Nutrition 

of Plants: Principles and Perspectives, 2nd ed. 

Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts, USA.

Marschner, H. 2012. 

Marschner’s Mineral Nutri-

tion of Higher Plants, 3rd ed. Academic Press, San 

Diego, California, USA.

Book Reviews


Flora of Colorado

Jennifer Ackerfield


ISBN-13: 978-1-889878-45-4

Paperback, US$78.00. 818 pp. 

Botanical Research Institute of 

Texas Press, Fort Worth, Texas, 


There were two substantial manuals or 

floras of Colorado published during the last 

century (Rydberg, 1906; Harrington, 1954, 

1964). Moreover, in 1987, William A. Weber 

started to publish two partial floras/guides: 

Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope and Colorado 

Flora: Western Slope (4th edition, Weber and 

Wittmann, 2012a, b). Obviously, a flora of the 

whole state has been overdue for some time. 

Last year, a new flora of the whole state was 

published by a curator of the Colorado State 

University herbarium, Jennifer Ackerfield. 

The total numbers of native and alien vascular 

plant species recognized in these treatments 

can be summarized in the following table.

After clarifying the numbers with the author, 

the total number of native species in her flora is 

2481 (2670 unique taxa), and the total number 

of introduced species is 525 (526 unique taxa). 

Included introduced taxa (called “invasive” 

on p. 13) are mostly naturalized species (many 

of them spreading and, therefore, “invasive” 

[sensu Pyšek et al., 2004]), but some are just 



No. of species




Harrington, 1954, 1964   

2794 (3135 taxa)

Weber & Wittman, 2012a 

ca. 2300

Weber & Wittman, 2012b 

ca. 2100

Ackerfield, 2015 


3006 (3324 taxa)

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Book Reviews

cultivated (Salix matsudana) or escaping only 

temporarily (Zea mays). The largest native 

genera are Carex  (113 species), Astragalus 

(96), and Penstemon (56). The treatment 

mostly follows the contemporary taxonomy, 

but Amaranthaceae and Chenopodiaceae are 

still separated, Lotus includes both introduced 

and native (Acmispon) species, and Rhamnus 

includes both Frangula and Rhamnus. A larger 

number of recently used synonyms should 

probably be used. 
Plants are illustrated by 912 color photographs, 

mostly by the author. Many detail photos of 

grass spikelets, Carex perigynia and pistillate 

scales, Boraginaceae nutlets, and fern sori 

will be very helpful. Some pictures of whole 

plants, however, are not sharp enough to be 

useful for identification. Distributions of 

almost all species are illustrated by county 

presence maps. The book includes a short 

review of Colorado botanical history, a short 

description of the major plant communities, 

a glossary, and an extensive list of references. 

Keys look user-friendly (dissection of ovaries 

is almost completely avoided), and I can’t 

wait to use the Flora the next time I am in 

the Colorado Rockies. It would be helpful to 

include an extra key (I would like to see this 

in all recent manuals) to segregate families 

in the traditional Liliaceae (e.g., Tennessee 

Flora Committee, 2014, p. 123). Inevitably, 

for a work of this kind, many mistakes will be 

recognized. Corrections and suggestions for 

improvements are being collected at http:// and will 

be used in the next edition.
The  Flora of Colorado is a monumental 

achievement. The volume fulfills the needs 

of professional botanists, students, and 

amateurs in Colorado. Furthermore, this is 

the first whole state flora written exclusively 

by a woman, not only in the United States, 

but in the Western Hemisphere! I know of 

only about three other state floras written 

completely, or almost completely, by women 

botanists (Curtis, 1956–1994; Ramenskaya, 

1960; Tackholm, 1974). This Flora is a must 

have for anyone interested in Colorado plants.
–Marcel Rejmánek, Department of Evolution 

and Ecology, University of California, Davis, 

California, USA

Literature Cited

Curtis, W. 1956–1994. The Student’s Flora of Tasmania

Government Printer, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. 

[Vol. 4b in collaboration with D. I. Morris]

Harrington, H. D. 1954. Manual of the Plants of Colo-

rado. The Swallow Press, Denver, Colorado, USA.

Harrington, H. D. 1964. Manual of the Plants of Colo-

rado, 2nd ed. Sage Books, Denver, Colorado, USA. 

Pyšek, P., D. M. Richardson, M. Rejmánek, G. Webster, 

M. Williamson, and J. Kirschner. 2004. Alien plants 

in checklists and floras: Towards better communica-

tion between taxonomists and ecologists. Taxon 53: 


Ramenskaya, M. L. 1960. Opredelitel vysshich ras-

teniij Karelii [Key to the Higher Plants of Karelia, 485 

pp.]. Ghosudarstvennoe Izdatelstvo Karelskoj ASSR, 

Petrozavodsk, Russia.

Rydberg, P. A. 1906. Flora of Colorado. The Agricultur-

al Experiment Station, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.

Tackholm, V. 1974. Student’s Flora of Egypt, 2nd ed. 

Cairo University Press, Cairo, Egypt.

Tennessee Flora Committee. 2014. Guide to the 

Vascular Plants of Tennessee. University of Tennessee 

Press, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.

Weber, W. A. 2012a. Colorado Flora–Eastern Slope, 4th 

ed. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA.

Weber, W. A. 2012b. Colorado Flora–Western Slope

4th ed. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colo-

rado, USA.

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PSB 62 (1) 2016 










Book Reviews

Carnivorous Plants of 

Australia: Magnum Opus 

Allen Lowrie

2013. ISBN-13: Vol. 1: 978-1-

908787-11-8; Vol. 2: 978-1-

908787-12-5; Vol. 3: 978-


Cloth, £34.99/volume (3 vol-

umes). 1355 pp. 

Redfern Natural History 

Productions, Poole, Dorset, 


The publication of a self-styled “magnum opus” 

is unusual, but so are Australia’s carnivorous 

plants. Approximately one third of the world’s 

more than 750 species of carnivorous plants 

are native to Australia, including a large 

number of narrow endemics. Allen Lowrie 

has devoted his career to studying Australia’s 

carnivorous plants, and this informative, 

lavishly illustrated, beautifully produced, 

and surprisingly affordable three-volume set 

is a welcome addition to the rapidly growing 

literature on these botanical marvels.
The predecessor to the Magnum Opus was 

Lowrie’s three-volume Carnivorous Plants of 

Australia, published between 1987 and 1998 

by the University of Western Australia. Despite 

its importance as the first complete survey of 

Australia’s carnivorous flora, this shorter (690 

pages in total vs. 1355 for the Magnum Opus

and smaller (octavo vs. quarto) work had a 

small print run and rapidly went out of print. 

In the intervening quarter-century, Lowrie 

and his colleagues have found and described 

many more carnivorous plant species from 

Australia and dramatically expanded our 

knowledge of these plants in their native 

The Magnum Opus itself introduces readers to 

the different types of carnivorous plants and 

the varieties of traps. Although this material 

covers no new ground, it is important to note 

that all trap types, except for the “lobster-

pot” trap of Genlisea, can be found within 

Australia’s carnivorous flora, and most within 

the southwestern region of Western Australia. 

Lowrie continues the Magnum Opus with a 

photographic journey through the various 

habitats and localities where carnivorous 

plants are found in Australia. These include 

alpine meadows, coastal heathlands 

(“wallum”), billabongs, lagoons, ephemeral 

pools, deserts, gorges, swamps, lakes, and 

some forests. The unifying characteristic of 

these habitats is that they all tend to be very 

low in nutrients and (at least seasonally) very 

bright, and many Drosera species grow only 

on silica-sand soils.
The meat of the Magnum Opus (>1000 

pages), however, consists of keys, drawings, 

photographs, and descriptions of all of the 

Australian carnivorous plants known as of 

ca. 2010 (several more have been discovered 

and described since this book was published). 

These include Aldrovanda (1 species), Byblis 

(8), Cephalotus (1), Drosera (163), Nepenthes 

(3), and Utricularia (66). Each species gets a 

four-page spread on heavy, glossy paper, and 

includes a standard species description with 

historical, etymological, and ecological notes; 

a detailed set of line drawings showing salient 

characteristics; a GIS-derived range map; and 

a set of field photographs. Eighteen of these 

species are described for the first time in the 

Magnum Opus (additional information on 

each of these, as required by the International 

Code of Nomenclature for Algae, Fungi, and 

Plants, is provided in an Appendix). Four 

natural hybrids are also described. Lowrie 

also clarifies some nomenclatural issue 

(11 species are revised from varieties to 

full species status and 12 are recalled from 

synonymy), erects three new sections for 

Drosera, and clarifies the application of names 

for species in Drosera section Arachnopus

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PSB 62 (1) 2016 










As the Magnum Opus seems written and 

produced not only for professional botanists, 

but also for field naturalists, carnivorous-plant 

aficionados, and individuals who enjoy large, 

lavishly illustrated coffee table books, the use 

of the Appendix to describe new species and 

resolve nomenclatural issues seems out of 

place. Although these would have been better 

published in the peer-reviewed literature, 

their inclusion here may provide non-

specialists with a window on how taxonomy 

and systematics evolves as new knowledge 

In that vein, a very nice addition to the book 

is a compilation of biographies of the 54 

botanists who have described one or more of 

Australia’s carnivorous plants. These include 

not only very well-known taxonomists (e.g., 

Bentham, de Candolle, Hooker [both father 

and son], Linneaus, and Planchon), but also a 

host of others—54 in total. All but one of the 

biographies are accompanied by a painting, 

etching, or photograph (the one exception is 

Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, who described 

Drosera lunata in 1824), and a list of the 

Australian carnivorous species that they 

described. Reading through these biographies 

provided a wonderful historical overview 

of more than three centuries of botanical 

exploration in Australia.
Finally, although the keys, drawings, 

and photographs will ensure accurate 

identification of Australia’s carnivorous plants 

in the greenhouse, lab, or herbarium, the 

Magnum Opus—weighing in at more than 10 

kg—is not likely to be carried in my field pack. 

For that, I await an app. But on my desk, the 

Magnum Opus will be the standard starting 

point for studies of Australia’s carnivorous 

plant flora.
—Aaron M. Ellison, Harvard University, Har-

vard Forest, Petersham, Massachusetts, USA

Plant Life of Southwest-

ern Australia: Adapta-

tions for Survival 

Philip Groom and Byron Lamont 


ISBN-13: 978-3-11-037016-4

eBook, open access. 268 pp. 

De Gruyter Open, Warsaw, 


Plant Life of Southwestern Australia: 

Adaptations for Survival is an equally valuable 

resource for enthusiasts in exotic and endemic 

flora—especially botanists, ecologists, 

taxonomists, phyto- and phylogeographers, 

and those involved in the bioprospecting-

based biotechnology industry. Written for 

an audience expected to be well-versed in 

botanical, biological, and environmental 

terminologies, scholars from graduate 

students onward will find it immensely useful. 

Moreover, a long list of –omics researchers 

will appreciate the potential for generating 

new data for the described species using the 

information regarding adaptive strategies, 

mechanisms, advantages against calamities, 

soil types, and interactions with environment 

and fauna.
The prologue reveals that the inspiration 

behind this volume is Dr. Friedrich Ludwig 

Diels. A quick browse hints that the book 

promises to be an interesting read, offering 

informative insights on the region’s flora 

evolution and diversity, anatomical pictures, 

landscape images, plant-animal interactions, 

ecology, socio-economic challenges, plant 

stress biology, and so on.
The first chapter gives an overview of plant 

evolution in the context of the southwestern 

Australian flora, providing a summary of 

much of the current literature. The topics 

covered include plants with fire-adaptations, 

unsurprisingly for the Australian flora. 

Chapter 2 will be of immense interest to 

Book Reviews

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PSB 62 (1) 2016 










Book Reviews

researchers worldwide and especially in places 

where fire is a socio-economic challenge, 

ranging from Californian deserts to the 

Indonesian archipelago. With global climate 

change running havoc, the catalog of drought 

avoiders and resisters offered in Chapter 3 will 

form a phytoresource for future researchers 

to exploit the genetic mechanisms for stress-

tolerance in plants. 
Chapter 4 focuses on carnivorous plants, 

which, with eye-catching images, their 

unique anatomy, biology, ecology, and related 

descriptions, are of interest to both beginners 

and experienced enthusiasts. Chapter 5 

moves on to parasitic plants. The region is 

home to a unique set of these, including 

the commercially important sandalwood, 

Cuscuta, and mistletoes. Chapter 6 looks at 

specialized nutrient uptake mechanisms, and 

the discussed symbionts and mycorrhizae 

will form a unique library for microbiologists 

investigating these domains. An interesting 

sub-section is Chapter 6.5 on “The Bizarre 

Root System of Kingia australis.” 
Chapters on pollination strategies and 

syndromes (Chapter 7 and 8), on seed release 

and dispersal (Chapter 10), and on seed 

storage, germination, and establishment 

(Chapter 11) are excellent reads for 

undergraduates studying entomology or 

carpology/pomology and will likewise be of 

interest to specialist researchers. Taxonomists 

and ecologists will find the chapter on leaves 

(Chapter 9) immensely useful, especially for 

sections on sclerophylly, heterophylly, and 

mimicry. An interesting section looks at the 

demonstration of mimicry in leaves of Hakea 

trifurcata in response to a mummified avian 

granivore such as Carnaby’s black cockatoo 

(Figure 9.11). 
The book is nicely prepared, illustrated, and 

clearly written. What is even more appealing 

is the fact that the book is open access on De 

Gruyter Online. In addition, I must note that 

interested readers may bump into another 

useful resource addressing similar themes in 

a book entitled Plant Life on the Sandplains 

in Southwest Australia: A Global Biodiversity 

Hotspot, edited by Hans Lambers, published 

by University of Western Australia Press 

(ISBN-13: 978-1-74258-564-2). 
Some tables are exhaustive and wordy, but are 

immensely informative for generating interest 

in young researchers. Likewise, some schemes 

could have been updated but, understandably 

from a taxonomy and phytogeography 

perspective, they are simple and informative. 

Many sections such as those on stomatal 

distribution, seed size, and mycorrhizae are 

very pertinent to present-day researchers and, 

although brief, are thought-provoking. With 

citations updated to 2013 and spread over 37 

pages, the original works are well cited. In 

short, for Australia enthusiasts, this book has 

all the kangaroos and platypuses of the flora 

side of life! 
The book boasts countless breathtaking 

pictures—including  Cephalotus pitchers, 

Macrozamia  seeds,  Caladenia flowers, 

and  Banksia inflorescences fed upon by 

the honey possum. Many of the landscape 

images are stunning and of excellent quality, 

demonstrating the immense diversity of the 

southwestern Australian landscape. Two 

improvements that can be noted: the scales 

are missing for the pictures, which would have 

been useful to show the dimensions of flora 

ranging from gigantic trees to small flowering 

herbs, and a glossary of terms may have been 

helpful for non-professional readers. Overall, 

the volume will be a valuable addition to any 

herbarium, library, or departmental book 

shelf, as well as to one’s personal collection. 
—Biswapriya B. Misra, University of Florida, 

Gainesville, Florida, USA 

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PSB 62 (1) 2016 










Plant Guide: Maritime 

Succulent Scrub Region, 

Northwest Baja Califor-

nia, Mexico

Jim Riley, Jon Rebman, and Sula 


2015. ISBN-13: 978-1889878-


Flexbound, US$35.00. 218 pp.  

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas Press, Fort 

Worth, Texas, USA

Published by the Botanical Research Institute 

of Texas Press, this is No. 42 of their Botanical 

Miscellany series. The book is a photographic 

guide to over 210 plants that occur in the 

botanically rich Maritime Succulent Scrub 

Region of Baja California, Mexico. The guide 

is bilingual, with both English and Spanish 

The Maritime Succulent Scrub Region (MSSR) 

of northwest Baja California is known for 

its interesting mix of succulent plants and 

Coastal Sage Scrub plants. According to this 

guide, this unusual ecotone has allowed for the 

development of over 100 endemic plants. This 

guide mainly includes plants of this region but 

also covers some from riparian, salt marsh, 

and dune habitats. It is lavishly illustrated with 

primarily high-quality photographs showing 

many aspects of the listed plants (e.g., leaves, 

flowers, fruits).
As I read through the guide I got the 

impression that it was almost trying to include 

too many features and could have used some 

more editing. The book starts by stating its 

purpose and scope: to give the reader an 

appreciation for this region, which I feel it 

does. After a brief description of the region, 

there are two reserves listed that one may visit 

to see these plants. This is followed by brief 

descriptions of other habitats in the region. I 

would have liked for the habitat descriptions, 

especially of the MSSR, to have been more 

thorough—providing more background on 

geology, ecology, etc. Then follows one of the 

oddest things I have ever seen in a field guide: 

a brief timeline of plant evolution and when 

complex life forms evolved. I did not quite 

understand why this was included. There is 

then a diagram of the parts of a flower and 

a short introduction to modern angiosperm 

classification. Here there are quibbles with 

terms (e.g., quillworts and lycopods are 

called Lycophytes on one page and “fern 

allies” on the next) and a misunderstanding 

of evolution, i.e., “angiosperms evolved first 

with the Magnoliids & other Basal Eudicots, 

followed by Monocots… Later the Eudicots 

evolved with two seed leaves.” These kinds of 

errors should have been caught by an editor.
The bulk of the guide focuses on what I assume 

are the most common or interesting plants of 

the region (it is not explained why these taxa 

were chosen). There is a “Quick Guide to 

Plant Families” with brief descriptions of the 

most diverse, and therefore most likely to be 

encountered, families in the region such as the 

Asteraceae, Fabaceae, and Cactaceae. Here, 

the bilingual nature of the book is confusing 

in that it is not consistent.  Opening to the 

Boraginaceae and Cactaceae in the Quick 

Guide, one can read their descriptions in 

English on page 20 and in Spanish on page 21. 

The descriptions are identical (I assume, since 

I can’t read Spanish) but the photos used to 

depict the families are different. On the next 

two pages, covering the Chenopodiaceae and 

Polygonaceae, the photos are identical on the 

two language pages. On this second set of 

pages there are English photo captions for the 

Spanish page, whereas on the previous page 

there were Spanish captions for the Spanish 


Book Reviews

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PSB 62 (1) 2016 










Next are the species descriptions with 

angiosperm families arranged alphabetically.  

Monocots are very sparingly covered and then 

come the eudicots. In the upper-right corner 

of each page is a header with the family and 

the informal Angiosperm Phylogeny Group 

(APG) grouping it occupies. Rosids and 

Asterids are listed the most (although for 

many pages Fabaceae are erroneously listed 

as Asterids), but then families like Cactaceae 

and Chenopodiaceae are listed as Core 

Eudicots rather than Caryophyllids. Again, a 

quibble, but these errors and inconsistencies 

are common. The photos are great and I 

enjoyed looking at them and reading the brief 

descriptions of the plants. Here, consistency is 

a problem once more. Sometimes the photos 

show multiple parts of the plant and other 

times just multiple photos of the flowers. 

Sometimes there are photo captions telling 

the reader what is depicted, but not always. 

There are also no scale bars to allow the user 

to know the size of the parts. Sometimes a 

penny or dime is used for scale but not for 

every plant.
If one is looking to take an “armchair trip” to 

this region then this is a good book for that. 

The photos are copious and nicely done and 

would instill a sense of appreciation for the 

region, as the book intends. For a scientific 

guide for field identification or taxonomic 

information, a user should look elsewhere.
–John G. Zaborsky, Botany Department, 

University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, 

Wisconsin, USA;

Book Reviews

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Plant Science Bulletin

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Plant Science Bulletin

                                                                                      Spring 2016 Volume 62 Number1

Hot Air Balloon flower

Gentianella is a genus of flowering plants that comprises 275 

species distributed over the Americas, Eurasia, Australia, and 

New Zealand. A group of 51 species of the genus have evolved 

on the high altitudes of the Andes reaching up to 4,700 m 

above sea level (15,400 f). The miniature flowers portrayed in 

the photo are about to open, their bright colors and the glob-

ular shape makes them seem like miniature hot air balloons.
Photo by:  Oscar Vargas, The University of Texas at Austin 

Submitted for the 2015 Triarch Student Travel Award

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