Silvia Alvarez Clare (Director Global Tree Conservation Program) led a team of international collaborators including Sean Hoban and Matthew Taylor (Video Production Specialist) to Baja California Sur, Mexico for a diverse set of work centered on the IUCN Threatened oak species Quercus brandegeei, the arroyo oak, which only occurs in isolated dry riverbeds. They spent multiple days in the field surveying and collecting acorns; visited local ranches and community landowners; hosted a community workshop to share perspectives, observations, and ideas; had a research workshop; recorded numerous videos for outreach; observed Silvia’s exclosure experiments; and drafted a species’ action plan. Wow!
Several of our team members (including research assistants Emily Schumacher and Austin Koontz, former post-doc Alissa Brown, and current research fellow Loren Ladd) attended a tree planting with CRTI in Robbins, IL. Working with community members and volunteers, Morton Arboretum staff planted around 40 trees at the Robbins Community Center. Robbins, incorporated in 1917, is a village southwest of Chicago in Cook County. It is one of the oldest majority Black suburbs in the Chicago area.
A diversity of crops - at the species, varietal, and genetic level - helps make food systems more resilient and productive. This paper examines the surprisingly challenging question of whether, where, how, why, and in what ways crop diversity may be being lost. Lead author Colin Khoury synthesized a mountain of evidence on this topic, and the diverse co-author crew provided many decades of experience around the world to interpret the evidence. As with other questions of biodiversity loss, it is important to define what aspects of biodiversity, what metrics, what time and spatial scales, and to judge human values. This synthesis is a landmark paper that the field has needed for decades. Dr. Khoury was funded by USDA NIFA to produce this work. Dr. Khoury has also just taken a position leading conservation at San Diego Botanic Garden! This paper is open access free to all.
Sean Hoban and Emily Beckman Bruns were each invited speakers at the Virtual Global Symposium and Workshop titled “Conserving Exceptional Plants: Cryobiotechnology and the Model of Oaks” (Emily's abstract, Sean’s abstract). Emily presented (viewable on youtube) on the development, vetting and use of the first ever global list of known and suspected exceptional plants. Sean presented (viewable on youtube) on different methods to assess the genetic breadth of a collection of plants, minimum sample sizes, and practical advice for seed collectors in the field. Both Emily and Sean received numerous questions during the panel discussion. Around 100 people attended the workshop.
Kaylee Rosenberger, current research fellow, completed an application for an NSF GRFP in evolutionary biology, with a proposal on the evolution and maintenance of disease resistance in trees, using simulation and experimental approaches. This was an important training experience for being able to plan out a series of experiments, state clear hypotheses, and plan broader impacts. We hope for good news in 2022!
Sean Hoban led the writing and submission of a grant proposal to the Walder Foundation for a Biota Award which provides funding to organizations based in the Chicagoland area that focus on generating research with "on the ground conservation impacts" such as: "policy, advocacy, communication outcomes, community engagement, and implementing improved conservation practices." Congrats to Sean on completing a huge effort!