Colloquia Details


Shifting baselines and altered landscapes: Botany in the Anthropocene

Submitted By:  Klara Scharnagl

We are living in the Anthropocene. Every habitat on earth, no matter how remote, has been impacted by human activity.  Human impacts include disturbance, development, or alteration of habitats; fluxes and deposition of nutrients and pollutants; overexploitation of resources; noise pollution; light pollution; introduction of invasive species; and climate change. Whether we are deep in the Amazon rainforest, high on the alpine tundra, or in the middle of an urban park, we must now consider our botanical research through the lens of the anthropocene.

To do so, we must become detectives, solving mysteries and looking for clues. What symbioses or species interactions once existed here that now no longer do? What community cohorts once existed that have now, in whole or in part, shifted? How large was this population in the past, and are its numbers dwindling? What is the resilience of each species to change? What are the direct and cascading effects of human impacts on the environment? How has the baseline shifted, and how will it continue to shift as the climate continues to change and the planet continues to warm?

To this colloquium we invite stories of plant and fungal responses to human impacts, including species adaptation and resilience to impact, and development of frameworks to assess shifting baselines. Any habitat type is welcome, but we are particularly excited to highlight any urban studies.

Planned Speakers

  • Klara Scharnagl, Curator of Lichenology, University of California Berkeley, "Art, Science, and the Anthropocene", committed to participate
  • Hailey Barneich, undergraduate student, University of California Berkeley, "Populations of lichens across an urban landscape", possible participation
  • We do not have a long list of speakers, as we hope that this colloquium topic will generate enough excitement to get speakers from the conference attendees. 

Neotropical Pteridology: A Dedication to Robbin Moran

Submitted By:  James Watkins

The field of neotropical pteridology has expanded significantly over the last two decades. Our knowledge of the systematic relationships of tropical taxa combined with an intentional focus on taxonomy, floristics, ecology, anatomy, and evolutionary development is developing new paradigms and ways of thinking about ferns. The intensification of pteridological research in the neotropics is not a random event: much of the interest has been driven by the mentoring efforts of Robbin Moran. Dr. Moran has been at the forefront of tropical fern education for over 30 years. He has taught several renditions of the Organization for Tropical Studies “Tropical Ferns and Lycophytes” course, and fern courses in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. He has inspired decades of young investigators to consider ferns in their research and has collaborated directly with dozens of scientists from nearly every Latin American country on an incredible array of research topics. The goal of this symposium is to bring together a cohort of scientists to speak about their work on ferns and lycophytes across the neotropics with special emphasis on multidisciplinary topics that reflect the very spirit of Robbin Moran. The session will include speakers focusing on systematics, floristics, ecology, anatomy, and evolutionary development.

Potential Speakers

  • Robbin Moran. Curator Emeritus, The New York Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, Topic: Overview of Neotropical Pteridology.
  • Michael Sundue. Research Associate, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Topic: Grammitid Systematics.
  • Ana Gabriela Martinez. Ph.D. student, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Topic: Systematics of the genus Elaphoglossum in Mexico and Central America.
  • Paulo Labiak. Associate professor, University of Paraná, Brazil, Topic: Systematics and Evolution of Campyloneurum.
  • Fernando Matos. Postdoctoral fellow. University of Paraná, Brazil. Topic: Systematics and Evolution of Elaphogglossum.
  • Jefferson Prado. Associate Professor, Institute for Environmental Research (IPA), Sao Paulo Brazil, Topic: Nomenclature.
  • James E. Watkins, Jr. Professor, Department of Biology, Colgate University, Topic: Gametophyte Ecology and Fern Evolution
  • Christian Lopez. PhD Student, UTAustin. Topic: Comparative Metabolomics of Ferns and Lycophytes from Tropical and Temperate Forest Communities: A Review.
  • Jacob Suissa. Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University, Topic: Integrating Phylogenetic Analyses with Targeted Anatomical, Physiological, and Developmental Investigations of Key Ferns
  • Barbara Ambrose. Director of Laboratory Research, Associate Curator in Genomics, The New York Botanical Garden, Topic: Evolutionary Development of Fern Leaves.
  • Blanca León. Research Fellow, University of Texas at Austin, Topic: Conservation of ferns, An integrated assessment of the fern species of the Americas.
  • Alejandra Vasco. Research Botanist, Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Topic: Ferns of Colombia.

One World Many Kingdoms: Conservation of Bryophyte and Lichen Biodiversity

Submitted By: Scott Schuette

Although from different kingdoms, bryophytes and lichens share the coveted station of being among the oldest extant lineages of terrestrial organisms on the planet. These amazing denizens of our world evolved strategies of coping with, and sometimes thriving under the multitude of stressors from a plethora of habitats in this world. With but a few exceptions, bryophytes and lichens are mere components of larger plant communities and geological formations, depending on other plants for substrates and the associated microhabitats, yet provide a number of services within a larger matrix of ecosystems and biomes. The diversity of bryophytes and lichens that our planet offers has captured the attention of scientists and enthusiasts for centuries. Now in the 21<sup>st</sup> century we have the technology to detect taxonomic diversity at the genetic level even when morphological distinction is lacking. As a result, we are discovering new species of bryophytes and lichens further advancing our understanding of the biodiversity of these groups. However, this diversity is finite and under duress in a rapidly changing climate. The extreme changes to the climate will impact habitats and associated niches harboring bryophytes and lichens shifting conditions that may lead to species extinctions before we have the opportunity discover and/or work to protect them. This colloquium brings together early career scientists from different backgrounds and levels of education working to identify bryophyte and lichen diversity in our world, those exploring the roles of species in an ecosystem, and those working to conserve this biodiversity in our one and only world. 

Planned Speakers:

  • The speakers for this colloquium will be identified and notified by the ABLS executive committee to ensure that we include people from a wide variety of backgrounds and represent the diversity of our scientists. There will be a total of 8 presenters two featured speakers and 6 supporting speakers.

Attack of the (haploid) clones: resurgence of gametophyte biology across land plants

Submitted By:  Jessie Pelosi

All plants undergo an alternation of generations between diploid sporophyte and haploid gametophyte life phases. The gametophyte life stage exhibits remarkable variation between different lineages of land plants, ranging from the dominant life stage in bryophytes to just a few cells in angiosperms. Changes to the gametophyte phase have likely influenced the evolution and differentiation of the major lineages of land plants, yet it is one of the most understudied aspects of plant biology. The gametophyte is perhaps best studied when both generations are free-living, a unique aspect to the pteridophytes (ferns and lycophytes). However, a comparative approach across clades is imperative to furthering our understanding of this enigmatic life phase. Across the plant tree of life, gametophytes occupy a range of growth habits (free-living vs. parasitic, subterranean vs. terrestrial, short vs. long-lived) and, contrary to traditional thought, can occupy physiological and ecological niche space larger than their respective sporophytes. Furthermore, the gametophyte is the site for sexual reproduction and is therefore a crucial aspect in coservation biology of plants. Although a handful of renowned botanists have been studying gametophytes for decades, many young scientists are starting to study the evolution, genomics, ecology, and conservation of this life stage. Despite a recent resurgence in the study of gametophyte biology, particularly amongst pteridologists, key questions in the field remain to be explored. In genomics/genetics: What genetic drivers separate the gametophyte and sporophyte phases? How does a single genome generate both gametophyte and sporophyte life stages? How does the genetic structure of gametophyte and sporophyte populations compare? In ecology and physiology: What are the relative stress responses of the gametophyte compared to the sporophyte? How does the niche of the gametophyte differ from that of the sporophyte? In systematics: What morphological characters aid in the identification and taxonomic treatment of gametophytes? Are gametophytic traits phylogenetically constrained and how do these traits impact the evolution of the organism?  In conservation: What role does the gametophyte play in conserving genetic and species diversity? These and many more questions have yet to be investigated in this burgeoning field. This topic welcomes speakers who study diverse taxa across the entire phylogeny of land plants to explore questions in gametophyte biology. 

Potential Speakers:

  • Eddie Watkins - Ecology and physiology of fern gametophytes; Department of Biology, Colgate University, NY, USA; Professor, Works at PUI
  • Joe Williams - Interactions among flowering plant gametophytes; Department of Botany, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996
  • Emily Kim - Differential gene expression between gametophyte and sporophyte in ferns
  • Jessie Pelos - Gametophyte stress responses and transcriptomics, Department of Biology, University of Florida, Graduate Student
  • Christopher Krieg -  Gametophyte ecophysiology, Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Post-doctoral student
  • Elissa Sorojsrisom - Alternation of generations, New York Botanical Garden and E3B Department, Columbia University, Graduate student
  • Donald Farra - Independent fern gametophytes; Retired professor, Iowa State
  • Sally Chambers: Ecology of fern gametophytes, Department of Biological Sciences, Eastern Kentucky University, KY, USA, Assistant professor
  • Leslie Kollar: quantitative genetics of sexual dimorphism in moss gametophytes, Department of Plant Biology, Michigan State University, MI, USA; post-doc
  • Alexander C. Bippus: paleobotany (with a focus on moss), moss evolution, fossil gametophytes; Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University; Graduate student
  • Brad Nelms: gametophyte development and genomics in maize; Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia;Assistant professor
  • Nora Mitchell: gametophyte dispersal; Department of Biology, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Eau Claire; early-career
  • Tristan Furlong: gametophyte growth pattern; Pepperdine University, Department of Natural Science; early career
  • Alexandria S. Quinlan: epiphytic fern ecology; National Taiwan University, Institute of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, master's student
  • Jordyn Regier: gametophyte desiccation tolerance; Pepperdine University, Natural Science Division; Early-career
  • Catalina Flores-Galván: morphology and development of fern gametophytes; Red de Ecología Funcional, Instituto de Ecología A. C. Carretera Antigua a Coatepec, Veracruz, México; graduate student
  • Joel Nitta: ecology and community structure of fern gametophytes; Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo; Early-career researcher
  • Christopher Youngstorm: molecular development of fern gametophytes; Department of Biology, University of Iowa; graduate student

Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences of Genome Size Variation in Plants (colloquium)

Submitted By:  Erika Hersch-Green

Angiosperms (flowering plants) show the widest variance in genome sizes (the total amount of DNA contained within a single somatic cell) amongst all eukaryote organisms, spanning more than a 2400-fold range.  Several genome and chromosome processes such as polyploidization, transposon, retrotransposon and tandem repeat activity, streamlining, repair, and rearrangement processes have been proposed to contribute to the shrinking and/or expansion of plant genome size variation. While we know that polyploidy has a big impact on genome size variation within and among closely related species, recent evidence suggests that other processes (such as retrotransposon activity) might contribute more significantly to the genome size variation across the angiosperm phylogeny and amongst more distantly related lineages. Genome size might be an extremely important functional trait to consider when predicting the impacts that global changes (such as environmental alterations and/or invasive species introductions) could have on populations, communities, and ecosystems. For instance, both polyploidy and genome size variation (independently of polyploidy) have been shown to alter organismal cytological, chemical, morphological, and physiological traits and affect growth and fitness responses, competitive dynamics, preferences and tolerances, and species interactions – all of which can occur dependent upon environmental context. However, much of this research has been done on allopolyploids in which differences between cytotypes are confounded by hybridization and furthermore it is not known whether genome size variation from polyploidy versus other processes has similar or different effects on organismal traits and responses to global changes. This colloquium will examine how genome size variation independently of hybridization in plants and/or ferns influences organismal traits and/or ecological dynamics dependent upon environmental context.  

Potential Speakers:

  • Kari Segraves, Syracuse University
  • Tia Lyn-Ashman, University of Pittsburgh 
  • Thomas Anneberg, University of Pittsburgh 
  • Angela Walczyk, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hailee Petosky, Michigan Technological University 
  • Sophia Schroeder, Michigan Technological University 
  • Justin Ramsey, Black Hills State University 
  • Pam Soltis (Distinguished Professor), University of Florida
  • Doug Soltis (Distinguished Professor), University of Florida
  • Clayton Visger (Assistant Professor) Sacramento State
  • Shelley Gaynor, University of Florida

Strategic uses of herbaria, specimens, and digital specimen data

Submitted By:  Katelin Pearson

Herbaria and the wealth of specimens they contain are increasingly being used for research, education, and outreach, especially as millions of specimen records are digitized and made available through public data portals. This session provides a forum for sharing impactful and innovative uses of herbaria and specimen data, including novel research using digitized specimen data, new educational modules or approaches using herbarium specimens, efforts to augment existing data by leveraging new data sources or measurement techniques, and collaborative projects that bring institutions together around a collections-focused goal.

Potential Speakers: 

  • Katie Pearson, Arizona State University, “New features in Symbiota-based herbarium portals for data discovery and use”
  • Blake Engelhardt, Inyo National Forest, “High Sierra Herbaria on the Digitization Track.”
  • Jason Andrew Alexander "University and Jepson Herbaria, University of California, Berkeley, “Facilitating California plant conservation through the Jepson Flora Project”
  • Katherine Waselkov, "California State University, Fresno. “Bringing the Sierras Online: The Involvement of Students in Digitizing the Fresno State Herbarium”
  • Committed: Jenn Yost, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, “When do California plants flower and seed? Insights into plant phenology from new digital tools”
  • Lacey E. Benson, San Jose State University, “A morphometric analysis of western sword fern (Polystichum munitum) pinnae and pinnae scales across the coast redwood forest ecological gradient”
  • Lua Lopez, California State University, San Bernardino, “Herbaria contain a hidden treasure in aDNA for climate adaptation studies.”
  • Natalie LR Love, California Polytechnic State University; University of California, Santa Barbara. “Region-specific phenological responses to climate and climate change in Streptanthus tortuosus (Brassicaceae)”