Friday, December 30, 2011

Mushrooms fruting in AV

The choice edible and medicinal mushroom Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) is putting on a fantastic showing in the display case on second floor outside AV 207, thanks to the efforts of the students in the Spring 2011 BOT 4330 Cultivation of Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms course.  

The course is taught in the Spring Semester, and these sawdust mushroom blocks have been overwintering since the end of the course in May 2011.  The cool temperature in the basement of the Aven Nelson building has encouraged these mushrooms to begin fruiting earlier than expected.

The course will begin again in January.  Further details about this course can be found in the University Catalog.  Contact Dr. Steve Miller for additional questions.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Floristic Inventory of the White River National Forest and Vicinity

Graduate Student, UW Botany Department

Unlike some of my colleagues, I wasn't born with a lens in hand.  I stumbled into botany en route, I thought, to a career in wildlife management and a desire to work with wolves.  As with many aspects of nature, learning about one leads to deeper, unexpected questions about the whole, and during a volunteer experience at a wolf sanctuary in Colorado I "discovered" my interest in plants.

Ron Hartman and Josh Irwin in the
Colorado River Valley, Mesa County
Subsequently, I've been able to develop my skills and interests in botany through several seasons of work with the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service.  As I became more involved in field botany, and the itinerant lifestyle it requires, I developed a nagging feeling that my work with rare plants was just scratching the surface.  I got to know a select number of taxa particularly well, but I was mostly ignorant when it came to the rest of plant biodiversity.  I also felt that I didn't have a framework to help me make sense of what I was seeing from place-to-place and year-to-year.

These concerns, coupled with fortuitous mentoring by former graduates of the Hartman lab (Brian Elliott, Walt Fertig and Laura Welp-Fertig), set me on my current path.  I can honestly say I've found in Ron Hartman's program exactly what I was seeking those many years, and more.

Over the past two summers, I and other collaborators, including Ron Hartman, Ernie Nelson, and Lori Brummer, have collected over 11,400 specimens from the White River NF and adjacent lands south of the Colorado River.  My study area comprises about 4,200 mi2 in northwest Colorado.  It is located on the west slope of the Rocky Mountains, spanning from the eastern edge of the Colorado Plateau to the Continental Divide, and includes all or part of Summit, Pitkin, Eagle, Mesa, Garfield and Gunnison counties.  It comprises a fascinating geological cross section of Colorado, beginning in the mesa country to the west and passing eastward, and upward, through the Precambrian uplifts that comprise the Elk, Sawatch, Gore, and Front Ranges.

Hiking the Continental Divide through Summit County
Geologic, topographic, and substrate diversities provide a multitude of habitats, ranging from steppes and shrublands to alpine meadows, from rock faces and talus slopes to fens and riparian corridors.  Habitat diversity contributes to great plant diversity, including numerous local and regional endemics.

During the summer of 2010, I found over 50 taxa tracked by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and many more "rare" species will be tallied before I’m done.  With about one third of my specimens identified, I've counted well over 600 unique taxa representing about 60 vascular plant families.

Over the coming year I’m looking forward to finding out what other surprises await in the 30 or more boxes of specimens remaining.  This curiosity keeps me coming back to the microscope day after day with renewed interest.  Some people read mystery novels; I look forward to the mysteries locked up (for now) inside my plant specimens and what they can tell me (and us) about one small corner of the natural world.

This winter promises to be busy and exciting, watching snow quietly descend over the UW campus while working through my backlog of plant collections, each specimen a unique answer to a complex question of nature.

Floristics in the Uncompahgre Basin and Greater Grand Mesa Area

Graduate Student, UW Botany Department

Summer 2011: 10,220 miles driven, 263 miles hiked, and 5,206 plants collected. Area: 4,335 square miles including 1,137 square miles of BLM land and 1,407 square miles of Forest Service land. May 27: 3 sites visited, 150 plants collected, 232 miles driven, 12 hours in the field. Don’t be fooled, these floristics projects are really a numbers game.

Adobe hills near Delta Colorado
Located in west-central Colorado, the Uncompahgre Basin and greater Grand Mesa study area ranges in elevation from 4,640 feet along the Gunnison River to the 14,150 foot summit of Mt. Sneffels. There are many trails to hike, lots of back country roads to explore, and innumerable rocks to flatten tires. The study area contains a variety of habitats including desert grass and shrublands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, spruce-fir forests, and alpine slopes. One of the most interesting habitats in the region is the adobe hill badlands. Derived from a layer of Mancos shale, these otherworldly looking hillsides are home to several endemic species including adobe hills thistle (Cirsium perplexans), Uncompahgre bladderpod (Lesquerella vicinia), adobe desert parsley (Lomatium concinnum), and adobe hills beardtongue (Penstemon retrorsus). Also found on these hillsides and in the surrounding desert landscape is the federally threatened Colorado hookless cactus, Sclerocactus glaucus.

Dominguez Canyon
Two major landforms in the region are Grand Mesa and the Uncompahgre Plateau, both excellent refuges when the temperatures in the lowlands top out at over 100 degrees. Grand Mesa, a large basalt covered mesa that reaches elevations of over 11,000 feet, is covered with spruce-fir forests, aspen woodlands, hundreds of small lakes, high elevation fens, and mosquitoes galore. The west and southwest sections of the study area are bounded by the Uncompahgre Plateau, a distinctive uplift that is part of the Colorado Plateau. Gently sloping up from the valley, it reaches elevations of over 10,000 feet. The plateau is ribboned with a series of canyons, created by down cutting of streams through mostly sedimentary rocks. One of the most beautiful of these is Dominguez Canyon with high, red sandstone walls, seeps that contain Eastwood’s Monkeyflower (Mimulus eastwoodiae), big horn sheep, and hordes of pinyon gnats.

A floristics project is not for the faint of heart – the days are long (this is not a 9-5 gig!), the work physically demanding, most of it solitary, and some of those backcountry roads…! However, with creativity, friends and family can be convinced to help. I owe much of my successful 2011 season to those who joined me in the field including Ernie Nelson, Linda Deeds, and Kim Hansen. Of course, being herbarium manger, Ernie had to help, but that makes him no less fun to be in the field with – especially since he presses what he collects. Non-botanist friends Kim and Linda traveled out from Nebraska to experience some time in the high country. Not only were they better at getting the whole plant than I, but they enjoyed pressing, and even numbered extra newsprint before heading back to the flatlands. The family dogs joined my husband Joe in the field with me on occasion. They were great company, but often more entertainment than help. As Joe has been totally supportive of this venture in more ways than one, he is forgiven for not wanting to help press plants. Botanical assistant of the year, though, has to go to my youngest son, Tyler. A graduate student at Montana State University, he made time in his busy mountain biking schedule to come down and backpack with me into Wetterhorn Basin. A pretty good botanist, not only did he collect the highest part of the basin, but he hauled out about 300 of the 400 plants we collected.

Colorado hookless cactus, Sclerocactus glaucus
The days are shorter now, but the hours are still long. The product of a field season and a half, about 6,500 collections, sit in boxes, most of which await identification. Now, there’s a number I don’t want to think about – especially since another full season is planned on the project! Classes, herbarium work, and commuting from Fort Collins have certainly slowed down the id process. And even though I enjoy herbarium work and identifying the plants I have collected, I find my mind wandering to the adventures of last summer. Flushing ptarmigan and sage grouse chicks, watching a bear and her cub climb a tree, long hikes, and backcountry excursions. What a job – driving down a road just to see what’s there, hiking, collecting plants, all in a landscape that can move me to tears. Is it summer yet?

Revised on: 3 Feb 2012

NOTE: Thanks to Dorde Woodruff for making me aware of the common name change for Sclerocactus glaucus.

A Floristic inventory of the Salmon-Challis National Forest

Graduate Student, UW Botany Department

During two summers in east-central Idaho, I saw more mountains and desert lands than many Americans see in their entire lives. This region includes seven major mountain ranges and most of Idaho's top 100 summits. There are hundreds of miles of deep gorges along the Salmon River and its tributaries. To the north, one finds groves of grand fir and alpine larch, while to the south, one finds saltbush, greasewood and desert annuals more typical of the Great Basin. In many areas, local relief is nearly a vertical mile from valley bottom to ridgetop. Whenever I climbed to the top of a ridge or peak, I would look out in every direction where, as far as I could see . . . my study area. Since the project was funded by the Salmon-Challis National Forest, most collections (ca. 11,000) occur on US Forest Service lands. Where species were expected to occur exclusively on low elevation BLM lands, these areas were also surveyed.

Foothills of the Lost River Range;
careful driving is necessary in a 2wd.
All the numbers add up to an enormous project, leaving little time for leisure. The commitment to a floristic inventory is not to be taken lightly; 12-14 hr. work days are the norm both in the field and at the herbarium. I can remember early on in my first semester here at UWyo. I thought to myself, “wow, I just finished identifying 150 plants”. Now, at the time of this writing, I’ve identified around six thousand specimens. After awhile it becomes a routine – though each specimen is unique, the process of identification is a careful balance between speed and confidence. I was not altogether inexperienced when I first arrived at UWyo, but I had never undertaken a project of such a grand scale.

While many refer to a floristic inventory as descriptive science, there are many subtle questions which one could explore with additional time and motivation. For example, what biogeographic factors influence the occurrence and distribution of the flora? what are the patterns of diversity across environmental gradients? Between patches, localities and regions? In such an inventory, one practically expects to discover new populations of rare plants, but there is also the slight chance of finding an undiscovered species.

A Floristic inventory of the Ashland and Sioux Ranger Districts of Custer National Forest

Hans Hallman
Graduate Student, UW Botany Department

June 2009 saw the start of two field seasons of floristic inventory of the Sioux and Ashland Ranger Districts of Custer National Forest in southeastern Montana and northwestern South Dakota, as well as surrounding BLM lands. Having come straight from field work in southern Nevada where I was working in burned landscapes where trees are few and far between, the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests and relatively lush green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) draws of Custer were quite a change in scenery. Overall, ca. 9,000 plant specimens were collected during the summers of 2009 and 2010, with a quick trip back in 2011 to pick up a couple of specimens of coralroot (Corallorhiza sp.) and orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) in a more identifiable condition than when I first located them in 2010.

A green-ash draw along with grass- and badlands
Interesting habitat types completely exotic to me when I began the project were the numerous badlands that I was able to collect on. Hosting a sparse, yet distinctive, vegetative community, including species such as saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) and greasewood (Sarcobatus vermiculatus), the badlands and their exposed substrate horizons of dark brown to rose to white, and rain-sculpted rills and gullies sometimes 50 or more feet deep, often had me thinking I was on a different planet, especially after a long, tiring day of solo hiking and collecting. A highlight of collecting in one of these habitats was locating a new population of Visher’s buckwheat (Eriogonum visheri) in Montana, only the second population known from the state.

Thanks to tips throughout the collecting seasons from Sioux District Ranger Kurt Hansen, access to certain areas of the forest was streamlined, and several populations of regionally rare plants were located, including lesser yellow lady’s slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. parviflorum).

Identification of plant material is nearing completion, and I expect to soon start writing my thesis.

Rocky Mountain Herbarium


Curator, Professor of Botany
Collections Manager

The Rocky Mountain Herbarium (RM, 1894) with the integrated National Herbarium of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS, 1910) and the associated Wilhelm G. Solheim Mycological Herbarium (RMS; 1929) contains the world’s largest assemblage of plants and fungi from the greater Rocky Mountain region. It contains more than 1,360,000 plant specimens and ranks 10th in the nation of more than 750 herbaria.

The staff of the RM has developed a philosophy to aggressively inventory the flora of the Rocky Mountains and adjacent plains and basins. This was necessitated by the vast, uncollected or under-collected areas. Such areas are remote and often requiring hikes of 10 to 25+ miles, although many areas are easily reached by vehicle yet remain unexplored. The result has been a relatively “fine grain” sampling in order to capture, based on voucher specimens, species distributions as a whole. In addition, genotypic/phenotypic variation and ecological differentiation are documented. Impressive yet not excessive numbers of collections per unit area (4.4 specimens/mi2) have been obtained. The development of new tools through the decades that place broad-scale floristics into an interdisciplinary framework with biogeography, ecology, and land management is fortuitous. These include computer hardware and software advances, GIS applications, informatics, the Internet, website development, and molecular systematics.

In 1977, the RM initiated this major floristic inventory of the greater Rocky Mountain region. This inventory is now the largest program of its kind in the annals of North American botany. More than 74 (48 by MS students) major floristic studies have been completed; 620,000 new collections have been obtained for the projected Flora of the Rocky Mountains as well as the Flora of North America (16 of 31 volumes published by Oxford University Press; the curator has been on the board of directors since its inception 25 years ago). The maps show the distribution of floristic inventories and the intensity of collecting (figures below). 

Map of study areas where intensive inventories have been conducted by students and staff of the RM. The number of collections range from 8,000 to 20,000 per project. This is contrasted by fewer than 30,000 collections obtained by most taxonomists during a life time. Two additional projects (not shown) on the west slope of Colorado are in progress. Additionally, the entirety of Phillips County is included with Valley County (red) in northeastern Montana.
This is a detailed map of all collecting sites associated with the botanical inventory conducted between 1978 and 2010.  In most cases, a dot represents 50-150+ collections.

The projects completed during the 1990s in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming resulted in the inventory of 79,391 mi2. Most importantly, 414 different species of conservation concern were documented at 1,459 sites, most of them new. Additionally, projects completed during the 2000s in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming resulted in the inventory of 89,363 mi2 of mostly state and federal lands. During this period, 430 different plant species of conservation concern were documented at 1,678 sites. As many of the taxa collected during the 1990s had been removed from Natural Heritage lists prior to 2000, this is even more remarkable.

In 1991, the RM Plant Specimen Database was initiated. Currently it serves over 700,000 specimen records, 30,000 specimen images, and over 4,000 vouchered field photographs ( In the past two years, the database has been rebuilt using MySQL. The new web interface is among the best in the field. We have a memorandum of understanding with UW Library (Imaging Lab, Digital Collections and Systems Department) for housing and maintaining the website and database.

The RM has received four NSF grants in collaboration with regional herbaria for data basing and more than 70 cost-share agreements with federal agencies for botanical inventory. These inventories have been conducted in 11 regional states. In the past five years $1,066,885 (not including indirect cost) from 39 grants have been acquired for inventory, specimen processing, data basing, imaging, and curation. Several of these are in collaboration with the UW Library and include: 
  • Data basing/georeferencing of  >30,000 specimens of vascular plant species from Arizona and New Mexico at RM/USFS. This complements data acquisition on 45,000 recent collections from north central New Mexico (five projects funded separately by the FS and the BLM) and 6,500 collections from selected areas in Arizona.
  • The data basing of 18,000 specimens from BLM lands in Wyoming.
  • The imaging/data basing of the 6,500 specimens in the Grand Teton NP herbarium (funded by UW/NPS) ( Likewise the processing/imaging of 8,200 collections at RM obtained recently from the Park. We have completed the imaging of herbaria at Bandelier National Monument (2,000) and the Black Hills cluster (Devil’s Tower, Jewel Cave, Wind Cave, Mt. Rushmore – 4,000+ collections). We have an agreement in place to image the herbaria in the NPS units throughout in their Northern Great Plains region.
  • The processing/imaging of 35,000 specimens from recent inventories on Shoshone NF.
  • The data basing of RM specimens from the Missouri Plateau (eight of 23 counties in Wyoming and major portions of Montana, the Dakotas, and northern Nebraska; funded by NSF through Black Hills State).
  • Imaging/databasing >5,000 nomenclatural type specimens at RM (funded by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. [A type specimen is one on which the description of a species new to science is based; they are critical to understanding the circumscription of a species.
Additionally, a proposal to the National Science Foundation is in preparation. It includes a “virtual herbarium” of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and completion of databasing of Wyoming specimens at the RM. Thus digitization of RM/USFS specimens from Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming will be complete.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Botany researchers find rare plants in the eastern US

During the extensive and productive 2011 field season, Botany Ph.D student Nick Dowie and Prof. Steven Miller were able to locate populations of the non-photosynetheic plant Pterospora andromedea in New York and New Hampshire.
Botany student Nick Dowie collecting samples in summer 2011
This plant, which depends on a symbiotic fungus to provide its carbon and energy (i.e. mycoheterotrophic), is rare and endangered in New England but is thriving in the west. In the east, P. andromedea is solely associated with eastern white pine, but in the west it is associated with many autotrophic tree hosts such as lodgepole pine, ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir.
The working hypotheses on the decline of Pterospora in the east is that either its disjunct distribution has resulted in a dangerous lack of genetic diversity in a changing environment or that the fungus with which it is associated is genetically depauperate, resulting in an an inefficient symbiosis that cannot sustain the relationship.  
Finding and collecting the rare eastern samples will allow them to test both hypotheses with powerful molecular approaches. Interested in learning more about Dr. Miller's research - visit his lab's website or email him.

Rocky Mountain Herbarium News

Ron Hartman
(Editor’s note: Ron Hartman was first Vice-President of Wyoming Native Plant Society and is Curator of the Rocky Mountain Herbarium.)

            Whether you visit Rocky Mountain Herbarium on-line or on foot, you will notice major changes[1]. We are in a constant expansion mode that has recently translated to a new floor plan and magnitudes more scanned specimens for viewing online.  The current holdings of Rocky Mountain Herbarium (RM) combined with the National Herbarium of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) contain 871,710 accessions; the William G. Solheim Mycological Herbarium (RMS) contains 48,000 for a total of 919,710 specimens, up from 302,000 in 1977. Also, University of Wyoming (UW) - College of Agriculture houses the A.A. Beetle Grass Herbarium (WYAC; 60,000 accessions). The combined holdings of these herbaria rank UW at 15th of more than 750 herbaria in the nation, 5th for a state institution. A backlog of over 230,000 collections (identified, data based, with labels) is available for study by researchers. It may appear that we have been gaining on this backlog as during the past 10 years, we have processed over 191,300 specimens. Surprisingly, we have obtained roughly an equal number of collections from our aggressive regional inventories. If we were current on the backlog, the collections would consist of more than 1.42 million plant and fungal specimens ranking UW 10th in the nation, 3rd for a state institution. These combined UW accessions represent the largest holding of vascular plants and fungi, by a factor of 3, between the Mississippi and West Coast.

Due to the rapid expansion of the collections, space in existing cabinets has been inadequate. For example, more than 120,000 mounted specimens are just sitting in hopper boxes. Consequently, three rooms on the third floor of the Aven Nelson Building adjoining the RM were renovated this past summer, thanks to Greg Brown, Botany Department Head.  This fall, 176 cabinets (sunflower yellow) were secured from Steel Fixture, Topeka, Kansas.  These, with the inclusion of 32 cabinets that have had other uses, have lead to space for about 416,000 new specimens, or a 40 percent increase in capacity. The specimens as a whole can now be evenly dispersed throughout the old and new cabinets and the mounted specimens in hopper boxes can be inserted. 

          On-line, the scanned images of specimen accessions have mushroomed, including scanned images of the Grand Teton National Park Herbarium (7,500) and of the recently completed thesis on the flora of Grand Teton National Park and Pinyon Peak Highlands (8,200; Kesonie 2009, Kesonie and Hartman 2011).  This makes the Teton County flora visually available to everyone with internet access, even if it is not a simple matter for you to travel to RM or the Park herbarium. 

          You are invited to visit RM any time - on-line and on foot as part of the 2012 WNPS annual meeting in Laramie next June.

Literature Cited
Kesonie, D. 2009. A floristic inventory of Grand Teton National Park and the Pinyon Peak Highlands, Wyoming. M.S. Botany, University of Wyoming.
Kesonie, D.T. and R.L. Hartman. 2011. A floristic inventory of Grand Teton National Park, Pinyon Peak Highlands, and Vicinity, Wyoming, U.S.A. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 5(1): 357-388.

[1] See also: 2009. Rocky Mountain Herbarium at Your Fingertips, Castilleja 28(3): 3-4; and
Schmidt, L. 2010. Gold Standards of the Plant Kingdom Go Online. Castilleja 29(3): 7.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

UW PiE and Berry Center open Jackson Ecology Library

Dr. Steve Jackson's numerous contributions to the Program in Ecology (PiE) were recognized last Friday when PiE and Berry Center named their Ecology library in his honor.  

The Jackson Ecology Library, located on the 2nd floor of the Berry Center, is intended to be a shared resource for graduate and undergradaute students who study ecology and biodiversity.  

Each semester PiE and the Berry Center will each add one new book, selected by students, to this collection.  Students can borrow books that are not readily available on campus libraries.

Acknowledging this recognition as "a great honor", Dr. Jackson thanked the faculty, staff and students for their hard work that has resulted in the growth of PIE over the past 10 years. Dr. Jackson is confident that great future lies ahead of PiE and believes that "more of our students graduate and get placed in good postdocs and positions, more papers published with the PiE address, and more people aware of what a good thing we’ve got here... we’re developing a national and international reputation as a top graduate program".

More information about Dr. Jackson's research accomplishments can be found on the Quaternary Plant Ecology Laboratory (QPEL) website.

Donations to the Jackson Ecology Library in the form of books pertinent to ecology students are welcome.  Please contact Ms. Brenna Wanous for further details.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jan and BJ @ Fall 2011 Graduation Ceremonies

Jan O'Dell and BJ Mitchell were part of the team of UW staff, faculty and students who coordinated different aspects of the fall 2011 Graduation Ceremonies held on December 2, 2011 in the UW Arts & Science Auditorium. Contributions from volunteers like BJ and Jan are essential for the success of events such as this graduation Ceremony.
BJ Mitchell helped the guests to their seats and handed the Program

Jan greeted the guests and directed them to different sections  of the Auditorium

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Looking at Water Stress Spectrally

                                            Tim Aston measures spectral reflectance of a plant experiencing drought.

Students in BOT 4111/5111, An Introduction to Remote Sensing of the Environment, are required to complete a self-designed research project by the end of the semester that applies remote sensing concepts learned in class.  Tim Aston, a graduate student in Brent Ewers' lab, took on a unique project; he's using a spectrometer to see how the reflectance of light from a plant leaf changes as the leaf dries.  His hypothesis is that drought stress will be visible in the "red edge," the spectral region between the visible red and the near-infrared, and in a water absorption band at around 960 nm.  Ultimately, Tim hopes to be able to use remote sensing to identify plants that express differences in genetic traits related to the movement of water through their leaves.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Public Seminar in Jackson, WY on bark beetles, climate change and forest pestilence

Drs. Matt Ayres (Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College), Brent Ewers (Botany), and Dan Tinker (Botany) will also jointly offer a public talk on bark beetles, climate change and forest pestilence in Jackson WY on Thursday, December 1 at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, 6:30-8:30, with doors opening at 6:00 pm.

Special seminar on "Climate, population dynamics, and forest pestilence"

--Thomas Morrison

Matt Ayres (Professor of Biology at Dartmouth College) will be giving a seminar at 4 pm on Wednesday, November 30 in the Berry Center, room 138, in a special event jointly supported by Environment and Natural Resources, the Zoo-Phys Department and Botany Department.

The title of Matt’s seminar is "Climate, population dynamics, and forest pestilence." The seminar will be preceded by a reception with light refreshments in the Berry Center at 3:30 pm.

Please email me know if you’re interested in meeting with Matt either Wednesday morning (Nov 30) or Friday afternoon (Dec 2).

Matt has a diverse research program, generally exploring spatiotemporal variation in the abundance of forest insects, especially those that are sometimes recognized as pests. Study systems include bark beetles, Lepidoptera, wood wasps, scale insects, phoretic mites, and fungi. More info on his research program can be found here.

Matt is very engaging (see picture of him with Spanish magician/wizard on his homepage) and has broad scientific interests. I think you’d enjoy meeting with him (and vice versa) if you can spare the time.

Matt is also keen to go hiking in the Snowies on Saturday (Dec 3) to see some forest-beetle interactions first hand. Let me know if you might be interested in joining.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dr. Dan Tinker presents at the 2011 Future Forests Summit

Dr. Tinker was by invited by the Colorado Bark Beetle Cooperative (CBBC) to talk about the ongoing bark beetle epidemic as part of the Future Forests Summit at the Colorado Mountain College's Breckenridge campus.

CBBC is "a coalition of officials from agencies, organizations, educational institutions and more who are working to address the ecology of lodgepole pine forests and their future (Kurbjun, 2011, Summit Daily News)."

Complete information about Dr. Tinker's presentation can be found at Summit Daily newspaper's website.

Visit the Tinker Lab for Forest & Fire Ecology website to learn about Dr. Tinker's research.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Remote Sensing Minor

                                            Landsat 5 image:  Can you name the place?

The Botany Department just approved the addition of a Minor in Remote Sensing to our list of offerings.  This gives students from any department the chance to add a valuable qualification to their diplomas while learning about how we use satellite imagery to study the earth's surface. 

Students pursuing the minor will be required to take three courses:  Introductory and Advanced Remote Sensing (BOT 4111 and 4211), and Vegetation Ecology (BOT 4700).  The latter is required because remote sensing isn't limited to sitting in front of a computer processing images -- it requires a detailed knowledge of the environmental factors that drive the distribution of plants across landscapes. 

In addition to the three required courses, students can choose from a list of electives that cover other aspects of remote sensing, GIS, and spatial modeling. 

We're excited about the new minor, and the opportunities that it will provide for students to learn about this increasingly valuable science.

If you are interested in the new minor and want to find out more, contact the Botany Department.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Stephen T. Jackson elected to Board of Directors, Ecological Society of America

Dr. Steve Jackson, Professor of Botany, University of Wyoming, has been elected to a 3 year term as a member of the Governing Board for the Ecological Society of America. Dr. Jackson, an ecologist, has been a member of the Botany faculty for 16 years, and he specializes in Quaternary ecology.

Interested to learn more about Dr. Jackson's research? Please visit his lab's website.

Rocky Mountain Herbarium and Solheim Mycological Herbarium Grow

Thanks to funding from the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center, the Rocky Mountain and Solheim Herbaria were able to add 160 new herbarium cabinets.

These cabinets were desperately needed to accommodate the growing collections, much of it being stored in boxes and not available for study. Over the next several months both collections will be reorganized to make room for the backlog of specimens in storage.

More information about the Rocky Mountain Herbarium can be found at its website.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Botany faculty @ UW Major's Fair

Freshmen and sophomores enjoyed free pizza and a chance to explore options for academic majors on Tuesday afternoon at the Major’s Fair in the Wyoming Union.
Drs. Brown and Driese had great conversations with prospective Botany majors, who learned about the diverse tracks that Botany offers to students interested in studying plants and fungi from the molecular and cellular level all the way to their role in global processes.

More information about Botany majors can be found in our website

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Botany researchers publish on the link between circadian rhythm and plant physiological traits

Researchers in Botany Department (Christie Edwards, Brent Ewers and Cynthia Weinig) along with colleagues at Dartmouth College have published one of the first studies in the journal Genetics, that shows how variations in circadian rhythm regulates physiological traits such as photosynthesis and stomatal conductance.

Circadian rhythm or clock impacts all life forms. For people who travel long distances experience this as jet lag and it takes several days to acclimate to the new location. These findings can lead to better understanding of a plant’s mechanistic controls over photosynthesis, and lead to the development of more drought resistant crops and also improve the efficiency of crop irrigation.

Click here to read the article in Genetics website.

Interested in learning the recent developments of this research? Please contact Dr. Weinig

Friday, October 14, 2011

Botany research work provides tools for plant conversation efforts in Wyoming

Walter Fertig recently completed his doctoral degree requirements. His research focused on a) characterizing species rarity patterns in Wyoming, b) mapping areas at risk for losing species, and c) developing quantitative methods to assess where species at risk are currently present and where they could grow in the state. Dr. Fertig developed a ranking system that evaluates species rarity and identify areas for conservation priority which is used by land management agencies in Wyoming.

Click on any of these links for more information:

1. The BLM modeling report by Fertig and Thurston (2003) (4MB)
2. Appendices for species abstracts and background info on the 44 species(35MB)
3. Species distribution models(31MB).

Contact Information:
Walter Fertig
Moenave Botanical Consulting
1117 W Grand Canyon Dr.
Kanab, UT, 84741, USA
Phone: 435-644-8129

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cloud Forest, Ecuador field course

Interested in adventure and would like to explore the wild world. Live in the Cloud Forests (Ecuador) and be part of a team discovering new life forms in the eastern Andes Mountains. This course is taught as a Honors course (HP-4152-01: Cloud Forest Ecology in Ecuador) allows students "to study forest ecology at a high-elevation cloud forest in the Andes Mountains."

Dr. Greg Brown, Professor and Department Head and Dr. Scott Shaw, Professor, UW Renewable Resources, take students every summer to the Cloud forest of Ecuador for exploring and studying plants and animals in these tropical evergreen forests.

Dr. Brown found a remarkably small orchid
More information about this course can be found in 2010 Reflections (UW College of Ag Publication)

Interested to know more about this course?  Contact Dr. Brown