Saturday, April 4, 2009

2009 Ohio Botanical Symposium - A Recap

I was up and on the road before any birds had started singing and while the frogs were still going at it on Friday morning... but with good reason. I was driving to Columbus, Ohio to attend the 2009 Ohio Botanical Symposium. By the time I arrived home at 9:00 PM, I had driven for 8 1/4 hours and spent the same amount of time at the conference, but I insist that it was well worth it, and would recommend that any of you with interest attend this event next April.

Greg Schneider led off the event by discussing the best plant finds of 2008. Some of these were species potentially new to the state:
  • Carex cherokeensis, found by Rick Gardner and Tom Arbour (a follower of this blog, by the way!)
  • Carex complanata, found by the amazing Rick Gardner
  • Celtis laevigata, found by Brian Riley
  • Juncus validus, found by Tim Walters (click here for a recent account of our own Tony Troche finding this species misidentified in the herbarium at Missouri Botanical Garden)
  • Pluchea odorata, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and Dan Boone (and yes, he's a descendent of THE Daniel Boone)
Others were thought to be extirpated from Ohio:
  • Echinodorus berteroi, found by Dan Boone in an area that is farmed during dry years
  • Schoenoplectus saximontanus, found by Dan Boone in the same area as the previous species

Yet others were county records or endangered, threatened, or rare species:

  • Aureolaria pedicularia v. pedicularia, found by Rick Gardner and Dave Minney
  • Betula pumila, found by Rob Curtis
  • Botrychium lanceolatum
  • Calamagrostis porteri ssp. insperata, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and others
  • Carex limosa, found in a former limestone quarry by Rick Gardner and Tom Arbour
  • Carex planispicata, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and others
  • Coeloglossum viride, found by Eric Durbin
  • Conyza ramosissima, found by Brian Riley
  • Cornus canadensis, found by Dave Kriska
  • Crataegus uniflora, found by Rick Gardner
  • Cypripedium candidum, found by Rich McCarty
  • Eleocharis engelmannii, found by renowned naturalist and Get Your Botany On! visitor Jim McCormac
  • Geranium bicknellii, found by Gary Haase
  • Myriophyllum verticillatum, found by Tim Walters
  • Oryzopsis asperifolia, found by Jim Bissell
  • Panicum philadelphicum, found by Rick Gardner and Tom Arbour
  • Piptochaetium avenaceum, found by Rick Gardner, Tom Arbour, and others
  • Platanthera psycodes, found by Dan Boone and Eric Durbin
  • Prunus nigra, found by Brian Riley
  • Ribes missouriense
  • Salix candida, found by Rob Curtis
  • Scleria oligantha, found by Rick Gardner
  • Triadenum walteri, found by Jim McCormac, and also in another location by Jim Bissell
  • Viola nephrophylla, found by Tom Arbour
Rob Curtis also found a previously undocumented bog, within which grew rare species including Chamaedaphne calyculata, Carex oligosperma, Calla palustris, and Potentilla palustris. Two lichens, Usnea substerilis (new to Ohio) and Ramalina farinacea (discovered in Ohio for the first time in 20 years) rounded out the best finds presentation. As you can see, Ohio has a pretty active botanical consortium.
Karen Goodell spoke next about restoration and pollinators, particularly bees. There are ~3500 species of bees in North America, and ~500 of these occur in Ohio. There is a lot of variation in bee species; some are large and can travel distances over 1000 meters, while others are small and only travel up to 100 meters. Some bee species are specialists and will only visit plants from a single genus, while others are generalists. Therefore, a site with a diversity of species, diverse floral morphology, an abundance of flowers, appropriate nesting substrate, and natural habitat within the foraging range of a variety of species will yield a rich bee fauna. Karen has set up a research project in an area that was old field at The Wilds, and will be restoring prairie over time to see how the bee population responds.

Following Karen's talk was the keynote address, given by Hardy Eshbaugh, one of my botany professors from my days at Miami University. Dr. Eshbaugh's presentation dealt with the challenges to biodiversity in the 21st century, and highlighted the following obstacles that we face:
  • There is a lot that we don't know. The example that he gave dealt with our knowledge of invertebrate species, which, as he pointed out, is inadequate. We know mammal species pretty well, and we know that 20% of all mammal species are in danger. If we don't know invertebrate species well, then we have no idea how many or which ones are threatened with extinction.
  • Exotics/invasives. We all know the problems we face here.
  • Habitat preservation/restoration. Dr. Eshbaugh pointed out that we need to form partnerships to preserve large areas of land. He also discussed the use of easements for protecting land. A study in the Brazilian Amazon showed that a restored or preserved site must be at least ~250 acres, as anything smaller will lose biodiversity over time. Much of our current restoration may be missing the point.
  • Education agenda. We need to do a better job of educating the underserved population (urban, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, etc.) on our natural history. He also talked about the importance of good field guides and wildflower pilgrimages, and pointed out that wildflower pilgrimages also have important economic benefits for the towns in which they are held. Also important are botanical societies, but more important is coordination between these societies, which may currently be lacking.
  • Science. Herbaria and museums are in danger. This is obviously a very bad thing.
  • Citizen science. There are some good citizen science projects for birds, and some nationwide botanical citizen science projects (like Budburst), but the individual states need to come up with botanical citizen science programs as well.
  • Economic agenda. There is economic value to nature; we we need to better understand what that value is.
Next to speak was Jim Hickey, another of my botany professors at Miami. Dr. Hickey's talk was about the fern allies of Ohio, and was one of my favorite presentations of the day. He went through each of the groups of Lycopsids (club mosses, spike mosses, and quillworts) and the horsetails, and discussed all of the species in each group known from Ohio and how to tell them apart. Among the species discussed were: Lycopodium clavatum, Lycopodium lagopus, Dendrolycopodium obscurum, Dendrolycopodium hickeyi, Dendrolycopodium dendroideum, Diphasiastrum digitatum, Diphasiastrum tristachyum, Diphasiastrum complanatum, Huperzia lucidula, Huperzia porophila, Huperzia appalachiana, Lycopodiella inundata, Lycopodiella subappressa, Selaginella apoda, Selaginella eclipes, Selaginella rupestris, Isoetes engelmannii, Isoetes echinospora, Equisetum arvense, Equisetum fluviatile, Equisetum sylvaticum, Equisetum hyemale, Equisetum laevigatum, and Equisetum variegatum. If anyone has questions on how to tell any of these apart, let me know, and I can pass on what Dr. Hickey uses to distinguish between the species.

Next, Lenny Rhodes gave an interesting talk on woodland fungi. He showed photos of a variety of species and discussed those that were edible and those that were poisonous. This was a very interesting talk on something I know nothing about.

Finally, John Watts talked about various conservation and restoration projects going on at the metroparks in the Columbus area. The Columbus and Franklin County Metroparks are taking a very active role in preserving and restoring natural resources. The work that they are doing includes land preservation, restoration of prairie, wet prairie, savanna, and woodland, prescribed burning, hydrologic restoration, stream restoration, Wood Frog reintroduction, and Northern Riffleshell augmentation.

If you've read this far, then you obviously understand what a great conference this was, and you should strongly consider going in 2010.


Janet Creamer said...

I will agree, great day. Sorry I didn't get to talk with you more, but hopefully you will make it out to one of Rick's hikes this season.

Scott said...

Hi Janet. I'm planning on being at two of Rick's hikes; June 13 and August 15. Maybe I'll see you there.