Ken Feeley is awarded a research grant by the National Geographic Society ($21,500) to help fund a new project investigating "Horizontal refugia and the effects of climate change on plant species distributions in the Peruvian Andes"
As part of our initiatives to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of the Bahama flora we are re-building the Bahamian living collections of Fairchild and developing new plots for Bahamian plants at the recently established preserve on Eleuthera (The Leon Levy Nature Plant Preserve). In March 2012, our Brett Jestrow and Jason Lopez joined Ethan Freid (botanist of the Bahamas National Trust) and Mark Daniels (director of The Leon Levy Nature Plant Preserve) to follow the steps of the three Fairchild's taxonomists who developed the flora of Bahamas project: William Gillis, Donovan Correll, and Helen Correll. The team traveled to North Andros and Eleuthera to search for plants. The expedition resulted in a collection of over 90 seeds/cuttings samples from over 70 species that are already growing in the nursery at Fairchild and the Leon Levy Nature Plant Preserve. In addition, many epiphytes were collected including orchids and bromeliads for this nature preserve. Image below, left: From left to right: Ethan Freid, Brett Jestrow, Jason Lopez, and Mark Daniels.
On March 22nd the Latin American and Caribbean Center of FIU (LACC) organized its 5th Annual Affiliated Faculty Colloquium. This year's colloquium was entitled: "Environment, Society and Public Policy in the Caribbean Region" and both the Executive Director of Fairchild, Dr. Carl Lewis and FIU-Fairchild faculty Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega delivered lectures on "Building Community Participation in Caribbean Biodiversity Conservation" and "Plant Endemism in the Caribbean Islands", respectively. This activity had four additional speakers from the FIU departments of Earth and Environment; Economics; and History. LACC has been one of the main FIU sponsors of Fairchild, this FIU center has supported field work in the Caribbean for FIU-Fairchild graduate students and faculty. It has also sponsored the Fairchild education department and has supported the visit of Latin American botanists to Miami. This colloquium has set up the foundations to develop new educational enterprises with an interdisciplinary approach. Our gratitude to Prof. Ana Maria Bidegain (Program Director for Research of LACC) for organizing this colloquium.
Congratulations to Wuying Lin who successfully defended his MS Thesis on March 22, 2012 at the Department of Earth and Environment of Florida International University. Her thesies was entitled: “Comparative reproductive biology of a rare endangered orchid and its congeners” and the research took place at the Yachang Orchid Preserve at Guangxi Province China. The project was under the supervision of our Dr. Hong Liu.
Starting in March, 2012, Santiago Arango Garces joined the CTPC as an
Former Fairchild field botanist Joie Goodman with colleagues from Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Desert Botanic Garden and University of Miami published an account (PloS ONE Vol. 7, Issue 3, e32528, March 2012) of the impact of increased soil salinity on the federally endangered Key Tree Cactus (Pilosocereus robinii) growing in the Florida Keys. They found that high mortality in the lower Keys was associated with high soil salinity. This was further supported by laboratory results which indicated that seedlings growing from a lower Keys mom suffered reduced growth under high salinity. Interestingly, these high levels of salt actually improved growth of seedlings from another mother cactus. Ongoing molecular genetic work being conducted by graduate student Tonya Fontinos, under direction of Dr. Eric von Wettberg will help disentangle the relationship of these two mother cacti. Image below (right): Joie Goodman collecting fruits of the Key Tree Cactus.