This month members of the Hoban lab, Global Tree Conservation, Megan Dunning from Learning and Engagement, and Murphy Westwood from the Leadership Team hosted collaborators from Chicago Botanic Garden, Montgomery Botanical Center, Atlanta Botanical Garden, and BGCI-US to share updates from their current IMLS National Leadership grant (Coordinating Consortia to Conserve Living Plant Collections). The group also enjoyed an Acorn Express tour and a visit to CBG to discuss other collaborative projects on managing collections of threatened plant species.
Assessing ex situ genetic and ecogeographic conservation in a threatened but widespread oak after range-wide collecting effort. 2022. Bethany Zumwalde, Bailie Fredlock, Emily Beckman Bruns, Drew Duckett, Ross A. McCauley, Emma Spence, Sean Hoban. Evolutionary Applications. Open Access. This paper addresses a pressing need for botanic gardens interested in achieving conservation outcomes: how representative and resilient are our ex situ collections, relative to a species’ wild distribution? We address this in Quercus havardii, a widespread but IUCN Threatened oak in southwestern USA. With funding from APGA and USFS, Sean collected and distributed nearly 300 seedlings of this species to botanic gardens in 2016; this study assesses how representative that collection was. We found that a majority of Q. havardii genetic diversity is conserved; one geographic region is better conserved than the other; genetic diversity conservation of this species is lower than documented for 11 previously investigated rarer taxa; and measures of geographic and ecological conservation (i.e., percent area and percent of ecoregions) were typically lower than the direct assessment of genetic diversity. We document how different metrics of genetic and geographic diversity can give different measures of conservation progress. This information will inform future seed sampling expeditions to ensure that the intraspecific diversity of plants can be effectively conserved. This collaboration involved 4 Morton alumni (including an RTF), with a diversity of skill sets, and a collaborator at Fort Lewis College.
Bringing together approaches to reporting on within species genetic diversity. 2022. O’Brien, D., Laikre, L., Hoban S., +14 other authors. Journal of Applied Ecology. In press. Open Access. This paper reviews approaches to monitoring genetic diversity and adaptive potential in species which can help them survive environmental and climate change. The approaches cover DNA-based data as well as demographic and geographic proxies, and expert based assessments. The review explains what genetic threats or concerns are covered by each monitoring approach, and advocates for a unified reporting mechanism. This work was produced via Sean’s participation in the GEO BON organization as well as the Coalition for Conservation Genetics, and stems partly from a visit to Switzerland in 2019 on genetic monitoring. The authors represent a variety of governmental, non governmental, industry, and academic areas, from 9 countries.
Emily Beckman Bruns presented with project partners Colin Khoury (San Diego Botanic Garden) and Abby Meyer (BGCI-US) on their efforts to bring together the genebank and botanic garden communities toward conserving North American crop wild relatives of fruit and nut trees. Emily’s presentation focused on results from a recent accession-level survey of ex situ living collections globally (including seed and tissue banks, and garden collections), which will be used to help prioritize species and populations for wild collecting, propagation, and germplasm exchange. The audience for the presentation was the Plant Germplasm Operations Committee of the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (NPGS), which falls under the USDA. Over 80 people attended the presentation. This work is funded by the United States Botanic Garden, through a subcontract with San Diego Botanic Garden.
Emily Beckman Bruns attended the American Public Gardens Association annual conference in Portland, Oregon the week of June 20th. She presented a poster highlighting “exceptional species,” whose seeds can’t be stored long-term in a conventional seed bank (see two Pence et al 2022 articles: Defining exceptional species and Gap analysis of exceptional species; IMLS grant #MG-30-17-0055-17). She also gave a rapid-fire presentation that showcased a project identifying regional ex situ priorities for Southeast U.S. high priority taxa of conservation concern. This work was supported by BGCI-US and Atlanta Botanical Garden, and will support strategic planning for the Southeastern Plant Conservation Alliance. The final report will soon be available athttp://www.se-pca.org/ex-situ-gap-analysis/.
Sean Hoban has been attending (virtually) another key meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity- the final meeting before the Conference of the Parties, which will be in Montreal in December. At this meeting, hundreds of representatives from countries and NGOs around the world are debating biodiversity targets for 2030 and 2050. Sean is providing advice and answering questions from policy makers from eight countries, plus IUCN and GEO BON. This is a fast paced, confusing, but insightful experience into how biodiversity policy is made! Prior to the meeting, Sean prepared two policy briefs, as well- one on target wording and one on metrics/ indicators for measuring progress.