Ash Hamilton, PhD student at the University of Chicago, led an international team of scientists (including Gavin Salas, the lab’s RAMP fellow) on a 10 day field work trip in Baja California Sur, Mexico. This fieldwork is a crucial part of Ash’s dissertation work on effective population size through time on the endangered, endemic Quercus brandegeei. This trip involved the group monitoring selected trees at several sites, collecting more than 1300 acorns in total from these trees, and prepping pots, soil, and nursery space to plant a select 1200 of the collected acorns at a local nursery. When these acorns grow into seedlings, they will be sampled by Ash for genetic analyses and then adopted out to local community members as a part of a conservation program “¡Salvemos el encino arroyero!” led by the Morton Arboretum and a regional governmental agency in Mexico (CIBNOR) [link to CIBNOR].
Outreach and Training
Sean Hoban, Tree Conservation Biologist, led a consortium of scientists worldwide to create support materials for policy makers at a recent scientific and technical meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Nairobi Kenya in October. The team created a policy brief translated in four languages, a short video, a flyer, and a post for an online CBD discussion forum. The materials were presented on an easy to read website. This builds on the engagement and support the team provided at the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity meetings in December 2022. The goal of the materials was to explain the recent implementation of genetic diversity indicators in a fast, affordable manner in nine countries, including four megadiverse countries. One message highlighted was that many populations worldwide may be on the precipice of large losses of genetic diversity, and that this status of biodiversity can be monitored in all countries, without the need for DNA sequencing data.
Events and Presentations
Sean Hoban, Tree Conservation Biologist, presented a seminar virtually at the University of Connecticut on November 17 to approximately 15 students and faculty.
This publication from several current or former Morton employees (Hoban, Brown) and CTS Fellows (Strand, Castilla) was the capstone of an NSF project to improve methods in biogeography- the study of species’ ranges and how they change over time. The paper showed that it is possible to integrate ecological niche models, pollen fossil data, and genetic data to better understand how fast tree species (specifically, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, green ash) migrated north after the last Ice Age. The paper also provides hints about how fast species may respond to modern climate change, and provides open source code for the methods for others to use. This project team’s work was originally sparked by CTS seed funding to bring the researchers together to meet in 2017.
This publication provides a perspective and review of the advancement of science-based policy in the Convention on Biological Diversity. The authors write about the challenges and opportunities of expanding the idea of conservation beyond just conserving species to conserving both genes and ecosystems. The article touches on efforts to conserve 30 percent of ecosystems by 2030, and efforts to measure and manage genetic diversity affordably and quickly. Challenges included explanation of definitions, the speed and complexity of policy negotiations, science communication, and incentives and guidance for scientists to engage.