2018 Mentor Projects
Tallgrass prairie has been reduced to just a fragment of its original size. Does an Echinacea plant produce more seeds if it’s in a highly diverse remnant compared to a less diverse remnant of the same size?
Many consequences associated with global climate change directly affect Earth’s ecosystems, including changing precipitation patterns associated with increased drought frequency and intensity in arid regions. Water availability has a strong influence on the distribution of plant species globally and can impact the allocation of resources within individual plants.
Less than 1% of the tallgrass prairie remains, making questions regarding its conservation critically important. Much of the tallgrass prairie exists in small remnant patches along roadsides and surrounded by agricultural fields. Roadsides provide bees with floral resources and may provide nesting habitat, but may negatively impact bee health.
With urban areas growing dramatically, it is critical that we understand how ecological communities respond to the land-use changes associated with urbanization. Native pollinators may be particularly susceptible to effects of urbanization given various aspects of their ecology and natural history.
In Southern California, diverse annual plant communities germinate in the winter and bloom in early spring. With so many different species of flowers open simultaneously, competition for pollination may be fierce. But, some species may be able to self-fertilize, reducing their reliance on pollinators for reproduction.
The effects of herbivory on genetic diversity in rare and endemic plants has not been studied in depth. Climate change models predict an increase in new pests and disease due to increased temperatures and CO2; expanding the range of pests. Sclerocactus wrightiae is an endangered cactus endemic the Colorado Plateau (Capitol Reef National Park & surrounding areas).
We are studying how genetic diversity influences productivity and ecosystem services in wildflower species being used to restore habitat in the western United States.
The concept of restoring or enhancing the quality and health of soil resources has become increasingly popular, but what is soil health and how can it be enhanced? Soil health is the generally defined as the capacity of soil to sustain plant productivity, and maintain or enhance water and air quality. However, translating science into practice can be complicated.
Pollinator effectiveness: In many plant species, pollinators are the main agents for the dispersal of genetic material within and between populations.
The Chicago Botanic Garden holds the Plant Collections Network, Nationally Accredited collection of Spiraea. Spiraea japonica is a widely used landscape shrub that has recently been showing up on invasive plant watch lists around the country. Our collection of Spiraea japonica contains over 60 cultivars. Fecundity is the ability of an organism to produce offspring.
Aquatic macrophytes, refers to submerged species that inhabit aquatic habitats. This diverse group of species plays an important role in ecosystem function, which includes among other things, habitat and food for fish and invertebrates. However, despite their importance, they are often forgotten component of wetland restoration.
Arbutus andrachne L. (Greek strawberry tree) is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a circum-Mediterranean distribution from Tunisia to Morocco along the north of Africa, and from Spain to Turkey along southern Europe. However, the more restricted Euro-Siberian populations, such as those in the Republic of Georgia, are considered endangered.
Genetic diversity is an important quality in seeds used for ecological restorations. Sourcing seeds from multiple wild populations increases overall genetic diversity.
Preventing Extinction: Hawaii is the extinction capital of the United States. One group that has some of the highest number of endangered species are the Hawaiian Lobeliods. This unique taxonomic group represents some of the most unusual members of the Campanulaceae family.