August 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

• Visiting Dr. Hong Liu this week and next (August 10-18) are two researchers, Drs. Zhenhai Liang and Lei Wang, both from the Jiangsu Academy of Forestry, Nanjing, China. Drs. Liangand Wang are collaborating with Dr. Liu on the GIS habitat analysis of wild orchids at the Yachang Orchid Nature Reserve (China). While in Miami, they are also interested in learning about the Florida coastal ecosystems and the Everglades Long Term Ecological Research program as they are involving in the establishment of a long-term ecological monitoring station in the coastal area of Jingsu Province. In the image from left to right: Lynka Woodbury, Dr. Lei Wang, Dr. Zhenhai Liang, and West Jurgens during a visit to our herbarium.

Dr. Kenneth Feeley and new FIU/FTBG graduate student Brian Machovina attended the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh (August 2 - 6, 2010).  Dr. Feeley organized a special session on "The effects of global warming on tropical montane ecosystems" and presented a seminar on the "The extinction risks of Andean/Amazonian plant species due to deforestation".

Dr. Carl Lewis and FIU/FTBG graduate student Brett Jestrow attended the annual joint meeting of the Botanical Society of America and the American Society of Plant Taxonomists in New Providence, Rhode Island (August 2 - 6, 2010).  Dr. Lewis delivered a presentation on conservation genetics of the Dominican Republic palm Pseudohoenix ekmanii. This is a research project undertaken in partnership with colleagues from the National Botanic Garden of Dominican Republic. This paper has, previous molecular laboratory manager, Sandra Namoff as its leading author. Brett Jestrow presented results from his Ph.D. Dissertation pertinant to the evolution of ecological traits and island colonization patterns of the Caribbean Island endemic genera Garciadelia, Lasiocroton, and Leucocroton (Euphorbiaceae).

• Guang Hu received his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Zhejiang University, China. He is currently a PhD student in College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University. His primary research interests are
community and landscape ecology in fragmented habitats. He has studied plant communities for severalyears in the Thousand Island Lake (TIL), a natural laboratory for habitat fragmentation and metacommunity dynamics. He led a group to investigate the species composition on more than 150 islands and established several long-term plots on 25 islands in TIL. He hopes to study the mechanisms of species maintenance and community assemblage in the fragmented landscape. Guang Hu is visiting us during Aug 2010-Jan 2011. He will collaborate with Dr. Kenneth Feeley and his colleagues on the effects of habitat fragmentation on biodiversity.

• Our South Florida Conservation Team receives US Fish and Wildlife Service Funding to continue research on the federally endangered Key Tree Cactus (Pilosocereus robinii).  Because we suspect that sea level rise and rising salinity levels in the soil are contributing to plant mortality in the Florida Keys, we will test this hypothesis in the nursery at CTPC.  This work will provide much needed preliminary data to ascertain whether conditions are appropriate for creating new populations in the Florida Keys.  It is lucky for us that we have Dr. Eric von Wettberg at CTPC, as he has expertise in salt tolerance in agricultural species.  In addition to the salinity experiments, we will continue monitoring the wild populations of Key Tree Cactus in the Florida Keys and grow an ex situ collection at CTPC.

• Dr. Yu Munging is an associate professor of plant ecology in the College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, China. His major research interest is community and ecosystem ecology in subtropical forests. He and his colleagues in CAS established a 24-ha forest dynamics plot since 2005 in Gutianshan National Natural Reserve, China, where his lab researchs species-area relationships, the joint effects of habitat heterogeneity and dispersal limitation on maintenance of species diversity, and the role of gaps in forest dynamics. He and his lab are also involved with several large studies researching the islands in Thousand Island Lake – a man-made reservoir formed by damming a river in 1959 in Zhejiang province. Working with birds and plants on over 150 islands they are investigating the effects of habitat fragmentation on species diversity and community assembly and the mechanisms impacting biodiversity dynamics. Dr. Yu is visiting the Laboratory of Dr. Kenneth Feeley for the fall 2010 semester to build on existing collaborations looking at forest structure and community responses to habitat fragmentation, and other related questions.


• As part of the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the prestigious "Instituto de Ecologia" at Xalapa (Veracruz, Mexico) Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega has been invited to deliver a lecture on "Molecular Perspectives for Plant Biodiversity on the Caribbean Islands." Javier will stay in Xalapa between August 17th and 19th and he will attend this event with Dr. Patrick Griffith, the Director of our sister institution, Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC). The "Institute of Ecologia" hosts the "Jardin Botanico Francisco Javier Clavijero" (JBFJC), a center that is the repository for the national cycad collection of Mexico. These three botanical institutions have a long and active tradition of collaborative research. With the appointment of Javier as the Manager of the Fairchild Challenge, during this visit we aim to establish new projects in the fields of environmental education and research.