Arrival in Beijing

Friday, May 21, 2010

By Hillary Burgess, Fairchild Living Collection Manager

Dr. Hong Liu, her son Eugene, Jennifer Possley, and I arrived in Beijing yesterday evening.  We are staying for a couple of days near Beijing University to facilitate meeting some of Hong’s research collaborators prior to our departure to Guangxi and the Yachang Orchid Preserve.  Today we ate lunch with Dr. Chen Zhang-Liang, the Vice Governor of Guangxi, Richard Stone, Asia – Pacific editor for Science Magazine, Senior Vice Dean of the College of Life Science at the Peking University Dr. Hong-Ya Gu, and the leading orchid Biologist Yi-Bo Luo of Beijing University.

Baijia Dayuan
Baijia Dayuan restaurant.  This royal garden has a history of at least 300 years.

We were hosted at a restaurant on the site of a royal garden from the Qing Dynasty.  Jen and I had a chance to learn more about the research that is being done on orchids within Yachang by professors Liu, Gu and Luo and their students.  There are several exciting ongoing investigations on orchid population dynamics, pollination, mycorrhizal fungi associations, and the effects of climate change.  Many rare orchids are highly specialized, making them especially vulnerable to changes in their environment; understanding each of these factors is critical for conservation efforts.   Climate sensitivity is of particular interest for this trip, as Jenn and I will be helping Hong establish a pilot study within Yachang to investigate the potential impacts of climate change on rare orchid populations.

Cocos plasticfera
Tentative I.D. on this cold-hardy palm growing outside our hotel:  Cocos plasticfera.