On November 12th, Sean Hoban submitted an IMLS leadership grant proposal focused on improving management of botanic garden populations. The Hoban Lab will not know if they received this grant until mid-2022, but it was a large and great collaborative effort. Congrats to Sean and everyone who contributed to writing and assisting in the proposal's formulation.
On November 15th, just 3 weeks shy of her 2 year anniversary of working at the Morton Arboretum, Emily Schumacher was promoted to Research Assistant II in recognition of all of the hard work she has put into the lab. Congrats Emily!
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!
For 2 weeks this month, Austin Koontz, one of our research assistants in the Hoban Tree Conservation Biology lab, virtually attended the annual ConGenconservation genomic data analysis workshop, hosted by a global team of applied conservation researchers. The workshop focuses on theoretical and practical aspects of conservation genetics, and is attended by participants from around the world. Austin received training in genetic sequence analysis (e.g. RADseq, target sequence capture), simulations, and genotype-environment associations, among others. These techniques will help evaluate the ability of rare plants to adapt in a changing environment.
Sean Hoban completed his participation in the most recent meeting of policy makers and stakeholders for the Convention on Biological Diversity. Representatives of all 196 member countries (Parties to the Convention), plus dozens of non-governmental organizations worked to negotiate text (and Targets) for the post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Sean represented the organization GEO BON in numerous half-day negotiation meetings over 2 weeks; made a short oral statement to all delegates on the role of genetic diversity in conservation; and worked with partners in South Africa, Sweden and USA to propose additional detail on genetic diversity for Target 4 on species conservation. This was not the final CBD meeting (two more occur in 2022), but was a major culmination of two+ years work and a big success!
Sean Hoban attended a workshop at the University of Vermont on red spruce (Picea rubens) conservation and restoration. Red spruce occurs in New England, Quebec, and the Canadian Maritimes - where it is common and abundant - and Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains - where it is highly fragmented on mountain peaks. The workshop focused on translating research to action plans regarding climate change and degree of local adaptation, and how seed should be sampled and used for restoration - including genetic rescue and assisted migration. Sean shared his experience with Fraxinus seed sampling and conservation efforts. The workshop was led by PIs on a finishing NSF grant, Matt Fitzpatrick and Stephen Keller. The attendees included academics as well as local and national conservation NGOs (e.g. CASRI).