The Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) holds Bi-Monthly Meetings that are an open forum for anyone interested in or working in plant conservation. Meetings are held remotely until further notice.
Each meeting features a speaker from the plant conservation community. In addition, there is a roundtable for attendees to share relevant events, as well as updates from each of the PCA working groups and committees. Regular attendees include representatives from the PCA Federal agencies and from Cooperating organizations; however anyone is welcome to attend this meeting.
NEXT MEETING: Wednesday May 12, 2:00 - 4:00 pm ET (Remote Only)
FEATURED PRESENTER: Dr. Brian Irish, Geneticist/Curator and Dr. Stephanie Greene, Supervisory Plant Physiologist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
TOPIC: ARS National Plant Germplasm System’s Role in Native Plant Conservation
ABOUT THE PRESENTATION: The Agricultural Research Service’s National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) has a long history of safeguarding and providing access to agriculturally important plant genetic resources. With just over 600,000 accessions held, this germplasm underpins crop improvement and research in the U.S. and internationally. Curators actively manage collections: acquiring, increasing, storing, evaluating, documenting, and distributing samples of domesticated species and associated information. Genetic resources of wild plant species are also managed and have become increasingly important. Starting in the early 2000s, collaborations with the Bureau of Land Management have enabled more U.S. native plant genetic resources to be incorporated into NPGS collections. To date over 19,000 accessions corresponding to more than 4,300 species, along with associated passport information, have been added. Many of the collected species play important roles in landscape restoration activities but might also have collateral benefits for crop improvement, or direct human use. There is an impressive range of diversity in these collections, but this diversity is precisely the reason for this material being so difficult to manage. Protocols for long-term conservation, including seed regeneration and storage activities, have not been developed for many of these species. Because of the preceding managerial challenges, as the NPGS collections continue to grow, collaboration with other agencies and organizations, in concert with combining resources, are increasingly necessary to meet the common goals of conservation and sustainable use of native wild plant genetic resources.
ABOUT OUR PRESENTERS: Dr. Brian M. Irish is a Geneticist/Curator and Lead Scientist with the USDA-ARS Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing Research Unit co-located at Washington State University’s Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Prosser, WA. The project he leads is responsible for the acquisition, maintenance, disease-free propagation and regeneration, characterization, evaluation, and distribution of the close to 13,000 accessions within the temperate-adapted forage legume (TFL) germplasm collection. The TFL genetic resources collections include large numbers of alfalfa, clover, trefoil accessions and their wild relatives. For the past two and a half years he also has led an interagency (BLM/ARS) project on the long-term conservation of U.S. native plants used for restoration and agricultural purposes. Dr. Irish spent the first 11 years of his ARS career at the USDA-ARS Tropical Agriculture Research Station in Mayaguez, PR where he managed clonally propagated agriculturally important tropical genetic resources as a Horticulturist/Curator and Lead Scientist. Dr. Irish obtained a B.S. in Horticulture, a M.S. in Plant Pathology, and a Ph.D. in Plant Science from the University of Arkansas.
Dr. Stephanie Greene is a Supervisory Plant Physiologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, located at the National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (NLGRP), at Fort Collins, Colorado. NLGRP provides secure backup storage of the USDA National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS) collection, and other seed collections from around the world, making it one of the largest seed repositories in the world. Dr. Greene serves as the seed curator and is responsible for seed receiving, processing, packaging, storage and distribution, carried out by a talented staff of biological science technicians and computer specialists. Dr. Greene’s research has focused on the conservation of crop wild relative species native to the United States. She has also managed the long-term preservation of Seeds of Success germplasm. Dr. Greene has worked in the NPGS since 1992, and curated the temperate forage legume collection until 2014, when she transferred to Fort Collins. Dr. Greene was educated as a plant breeder, receiving her B.S. and M.S. from the University of Idaho, and her Ph.D. from Kansas State University.
***TO ATTEND THIS MEETING, PLEASE RSVP by Friday, May 7th by 5pm Eastern, to firstname.lastname@example.org***
The meeting login details will be shared via calendar invite and email at least one day before the meeting.
Please see 'MS Teams How To' [pdf] for step-by-step directions to join the meeting. You will be able to join the meeting from the web or via the Microsoft Teams app, which can be downloaded in advance here.
Mark your calendars for the 2021 PCA meetings, to be held the second Wednesday of the month in January, March, May, July, September, and November (details below and on this PDF ).
July 14: Dr. Ellen Damschen, on "The role of habitat corridors on plant diversity"
September 8: Dr. Sam Droege, on "Replacing lawns with native plant communities"
November 10: Ms. Emily Grave, on "Hawai'i Strategy for Plant Conservation"
March 10, 2021 - Dr. Thomas R. Easley, Assistant Dean of Community and Inclusion at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, spoke about Relationships, History, Hip-Hop, and Forestry. Easley provided an overview of how he uses hip-hop as a vehicle to discuss diversity in forestry, monitoring, and education, providing specific examples. See the PowerPoint and recording of the presentation
January 13, 2021 – Dr. Jared Margulies, Assistant Professor of Political Ecology in Department of Geography at the University of Alabama, spoke about Illicit succulent plant trade and pathways towards sustainability. His research explores environmental inequalities, human-nature relationships, and how contemporary social issues intersect with pressing environmental questions. The presentation described drivers and stereotypes of illegal trade in succulent plants, providing two case studies (Mexican-endemic Mammillaria bertholdii and U.S.-endemic Dudleya farinosa) that have been illegally harvested and traded to East Asian and Southeast Asian countries. View the presentation (Part 1, Part 2) and the recording.
November 18, 2020 – Ms. Alyssa Samoy, Natural Resources Specialist for the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Tribal Resilience Program and Chippewa Cree Tribe Member presented on BIA's programs that fund or inform native plant conservation. She began with a brief history of the BIA and its current organizational structure and then focused on various grants and programs, including the Tribal Resilience Program (TRP) and other BIA-funded tribal projects related to native plant restoration or Tribal education. Under the TRP, projects related to native plant conservation may be funded if they relate to the overarching tribal climate adaptation plan. Native plant conservation or invasive species should be outlined as key priorities of the tribe and add as one among other highlighted components stitched together as a cohesive plan by multiple tribal departments. View the presentation and the recording.
September 9, 2020 - Dr. Kayri Havens, Senior Director of Ecology and Conservation and Senior Scientist at Chicago Botanic Garden, spoke about Budburst, a national community science program that brings researchers, conservationists, and community citizen scientists together to focus on phenology--seasonal changes in plant life cycles and plant-animal interactions--to better understand how humans impact the environment. Scientists use phenological observations (e.g., when plants leaf out and bloom) to draw conclusions about how changes in climate will impact agricultural production, the relationships between plants and their pollinators, invasions of weedy species, and more. BudBurst allows people of all ages to engage in the scientific process and to contribute data in any of three ways through a web interface: 1) one time observations; annual life cycle observations; and special projects, such as "Budburst: Nativars" and "Milkweeds and Monarchs," collecting data on the interplay of plant phenology and plant-animal interactions. Extensive educational resources for all ages and learning contexts support this work and, since April 2020, new tools for public/private/home school educators to support students as part of formal science classes and for families looking for safe, outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic -- after all, you can collect phenological data while keeping a safe distance from each other! View the presentation and the recording. Learn more about BudBurst or become a Budburst partner.
July 8, 2020 - Mr. David Lincicome, the Natural Heritage Program Manager with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Natural Areas, and chair of the steering committee for the Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance, and Ms. Kristi Allen, Program Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network, shared information about state-level Plant Conservation Alliances and their efforts to coordinate with each other. Based upon the nationally recognized success of the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance and the New England Plant Conservation Program, the Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) model has now been adopted by other states, including Tennessee and Pennsylvania, to successfully implement at-risk plant conservation. A state-based PCA is a network of private and public entities that agree to work together to leverage expertise and resources for the common goal of conserving the state’s native plants and their habitats, using targeted conservation horticulture and habitat restoration. PCA’s emphasize an informal structure and building of trust for efficient communication of diverse scientific data and institutional perspectives. A major strength of the PCA model is the effective use of trained volunteers (Citizen Science) to perform conservation actions. Mr. Lincicome also describes efforts begun in late 2017 to increase communication among the coordinators of plant conservation alliances (PCA) or similar entities in the Southeast United States. These efforts have helped create a more cohesive and effective plant conservation network throughout the Southeast and beyond. See their presentations, Tennessee Plant Conservation Alliance and Pennsylvania Plant Conservation Network, and learn more about the Tennessee PCA.
May 13, 2020 - Ms. Katrina Outland, Deputy Prosecutor for Skagit County, Washington and former biologist, presented findings from her research on Venus flytrap poaching and the challenges of enforcing legal protections for plants. For some plants, poaching is a leading threat to their survival. Venus flytraps are one such species—they are endemic only to one small region on the planet and serve as easy cash for poachers selling to collectors or makers of fake health tonics. The presentation proposes a road map for more equitable distribution of punishment and for stronger protections for plants, with some examples of cases that used existing state laws and the Lacey Act to target illegal distributors of poached plants, and prospects for such examples to effectively protect the Venus flytrap. See the presentation and a recording of the presentation.
March 11, 2020 - Dr. Peter Marra, Director of the Georgetown Environmental Initiative (GEI), Laudato Si’ Professor in Biology and the Environment, and Professor in the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, summarized the results of his recent paper on bird loss and described several actions that are necessary for recovery including the role of native plants. Slowing the loss of biodiversity across terrestrial and marine biomes is perhaps the greatest conservation challenge we face as environmentalists in the 21st century. Over the past 150 years, vertebrate extinctions have been driven largely by habitat loss, overharvesting and invasive species, but the pervasiveness of current avian declines suggests multiple and interacting causes ranging from habitat loss and change to overharvesting to cat depredation, and identifying which of these factors drives population dynamics is complex and challenging. Dr. Marra’s presentation provides information through the plant species and habitat perspectives. See the publication, Decline of North American Avifauna (Science, Oct. 2019) and view his presentation or the recording.
January 8, 2020 - Dr. Kirk W. Davies, Lead Rangeland Scientist at the USDA Agricultural Research Service Unit at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns, OR., to presented "Collaboration and precision restoration to improve native plant restoration in arid ecosystems." He spoke about research to overcome some common barriers to successful restoration with native plant seeds, focusing on four experimental innovations in the early stages of development: 1) agglomeration - to facilitate seedling emergence through soil crust; 2) activated carbon pellet - to protect from herbicides used to decrease competition from invasive; 3) seed pillow- to promote seed/soil contact for germination; and 4) hydrophobic seed coat - to delay germination to the spring. View the presentation, published information on this topic, and address any questions to <kirk.davies @ ars.usda.gov>.
November 13, 2019 - Gerry Moore, the National Plant Data Team Lead for the US Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service, spoke about the genesis and future of the USDA PLANTS Database, which provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories, including a section on PLANTS T&E which provides access to state and federally protected plant information. Gerry discussed the variations in rare plant protection from state to state (with some states having full legal protections and others having no legal protections for plants) as well as the regulatory, management, and range-wide implications of state-level determinations of native or non-native status. Download the presentation [part1, part2, part3], watch a recording of the presentation, and visit The PLANTS Database.
September 11, 2019 - Kelly Rourke and Elizzabeth Kaufman of Pollinator Partnership discussed the Monarch Wings Across America Program, which began in Ohio in 2015 and has since grown into a 9-state monarch and imperiled pollinator conservation effort. MWAA is currently operating in AR, CA, IL, IN, MI, MO, OH, PA, and WI. Through first an ecoregional approach (Monarch Wings Across the Eastern Broadleaf Forest) followed by state-based boundaries (Project Wingspan), this program has engaged NGO and Federal partners, along with private volunteers, to rapidly increase habitat, native plant materials, and preferred land management practices for pollinators. So far, these collective efforts have impacted over 30,000 acres of pollinator habitat in the target areas. Learn more athttps://www.pollinator.org/monarch/mwaa.
July 10, 2019 - There was no speaker for this meeting and discussions centered on new efforts to develop a better mechanism for the National Seed Strategy progress-reporting and initial thoughts to revise the National Seed Strategy (post-2020), in addition to forging connections with the UN Decade of Restoration (that will launch in June 2021), updates on the Plant Performance Data Integration Project, and 2020 PCA speaker planning. The Oak Conservation Alliance and the National Academies of Sciences' Assessment of Native Seed Needs and Capacities were announced.
May 21, 2019 - Javier Robayo spoke about Foundacion EcoMinga and the facinating botanical diversity of Ecuador. ABSTRACT: Fundacion EcoMinga (EcoMinga Foundation in English) is an Ecuadorian foundation with international sponsors, dedicated to the conservation of the unique foothill forests, cloud forests, and alpine grasslands (“paramo”) of the Andes, especially those on the edge of the Amazon basin in east-central Ecuador and those on the super-wet western Andean slopes of the Choco region in northwest Ecuador. The foundation was established in Ecuador in 2006, under the statutes and supervision of the Ecuadorian Ministerio del Ambiente.
March 13, 2019 - Chris Martine (Bucknell University) presented Plants are Cool, Too: #SciComm, media relations, and a botanist on Mars. ABSTRACT: Using case studies based on recent attempts to promote new scientific findings through multiple types/tiers of media, this talk will present strategies that any biodiversity professional might employ when hoping to spread the word about (and engage the public in) their research outcomes. While taking on the job of promoting your own work might seem like a daunting (or even painful) task, the payoffs ideally include: a) Increased reads and/or citations; b) Expanding the reach and impact of your work; and d) Building public enthusiasm for biodiversity science/protection/conservation.
November 14, 2018 - the PCA welcomed Doug Tallamy, Mary Phillips, John Rowden, and Judy Venonsky as panelists (Moderated by Casey Sclar) on “Identifying and addressing information gaps in plant databases to support emerging planting design technologies promoting biodiversity and ecological benefits”. ABSTRACT: Technological advancements, including databases, websites, and intuitive parametric design apps, show great promise to assist landscape professionals and home gardeners alike with simplifying the planting design process. However, information gaps need to be addressed in order to optimize the emerging data tools, particularly when it comes to selecting the most useful and available plants to enhance ecosystem services and sustainable design. Much great work has already been achieved through development of the national databases of the Biota of North America Project (BONAP), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) PLANTS, NatureServe, and the Ecoregional Revegetation Application (ERA). This panel discussion will address the current plant databases available to algorithms and applications and what efforts are needed to ensure consistent and vetted data on ecologically beneficial plants is readily accessible to emerging technologies and the general public. See the presentation associated with this meeting here.
September 12, 2018 - Abby Meyer, Executive Director, Botanic Gardens Conservation International U.S., spoke about leveraging the garden community to complement and backup collections within and among institutions to close gaps and secure plant diversity for the future. This talk also discussed implementing The North American Botanic Garden Strategy for Plant Conservation and the ways garden staff can use information available to them to assess gaps and priorities for their own collections. Specific information about time and location of the talk will be posted at the end of August.
March 14, 2018 - Margaret O'Gorman - President of the Wildlife Habitat Council
January 10, 2018 - Jeannette Whitton, Director University of British Columbia Herbarium, Canada's SARA & COSEWIC
November 8, 2017 - Emily Sessa, University of Florida, Fern Conservation.
September 13, 2017 - Dwayne Estes, Director of the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative. You can find a copy of Dwayne's talk here.