Ray Collett Rare and Extraordinary Plant Lecture Series for 2017

Hugh Safford
Hugh Safford
"The campos de altitude of southeastern Brazil: the ramifications of global change for conservation and management of a unique ecosystem"
Thursday, October 26, 7:00pm
Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Horticulture II Building
Free Event and Free parking
Donations welcome.

Presentation by Ecologist Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist for the USDA-Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region.

"The campos de altitude are cold, humid grass- and shrubland ecosystems found on the summits of the highest peaks in southeastern Brazil. Campos de altitude constitute terrestrial island habitats inserted in the matrix of the Atlantic rainforest, and their flora and fauna are the result of ecological and evolutionary interactions between geographic isolation and colonization and extinction events driven by past climatic changes. Many rare taxa are restricted to the campos de altitude, and their conservation status is already precarious. In the face of climatic warming, the survival of many of these high mountain taxa is at stake because the geographically closest habitats that are climatically similar are thousands of miles away, in other nations.
I summarize the climatic history and vegetation dynamics of the campos de altitude since the Last Glacial Maximum, as well as projections of the climate and vegetation response in southeastern Brazil for the 21
st century. Response of vegetation to rapid warming at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary suggests that projected future climates may lead to the loss of a large part of the campos de altitude area by the end of the century. In conclusion, I consider some of the management choices that will have to be made if at least some of the rare taxa found in the campos de altitude are to be saved."

Lee and Lincoln Taiz
"Flora Unveiled: The Discovery and Denial of Sex in Plants"
Tuesday, May 9, 7:00pm
Arboretum Horticulture II Building
Free Event and Free parking
Donations welcome.

Historians have long marveled at the incredibly long delay before sex in plants was finally discovered at the end of the seventeenth century.  The delay is especially remarkable when you consider that sex in animals was discovered at least 14,000 years earlier.  Why did it take so long to discover sex in plants, and why, after it’s proposal and experimental confirmation, did the debate continue for another 150 years?  The ancient belief that plants are unisexual and female can be traced back as far as the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods,  and this is a gender bias that Lincoln and Lee explore in Flora Unveiled. 

Lincoln Taiz is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists. 

Lee Taiz, a research biologist specializing in electron microscopy, co-authored numerous papers on plant biology and on the history of science while on the staff of the Cell and Molecular Biology Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. 

Lincoln and Lee Taiz will be signing books after the lecture.

Download flyer for this event. (pdf) For more information please call 831-502-2998
Directions to the Arboretum.

erin riordanCalifornia's Flora Under Threat:
Incorporating Climate Change into Natural Resource Planning
Monday, February 20, 7:00pm
A presentation by Erin Riordan, Ph.D.

Dr. Riordan studies climate change impacts on California’s native flora, and how these will affect conservation. Her work evaluates the future role of the NRS under changing conditions. Riordan received her PhD from UCLA, studying projected climate change impacts and land use changeon California sage scrub, a highly threatened plant community in southern California and northwestern Baja California. She also worked with the UC Natural Reserve System and professors David Ackerly at UC Berkeley and Phil Rundel at UCLA. She is continuing her work modeling climate impacts on species in rare natural communities from coastal and montane regions in California.

Click to download event flyer (pdf).  For more information please call 831-502-2998
Directions to the Arboretum.



John Thompson
Relentless Evolution: Of Plants and Their Partners
Thursday, November 10, 7:00pm
Arboretum Horticulture II Building
Free Event and Free parking
A presentation by John Thompson, UCSC Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. 
Abstract from Dr. Thompson: We now know that plant species continually evolve, sometimes at astonishingly fast rates and sometimes at slower rates, but they are always evolving. That affects how we think about the conservation of species, the management of invasive species, and the ever-changing web of life. This presentation will cover what we are learning about the relentless co-evolution of plants and their pollinators and enemies across the landscapes of California and far western North America. 

Jewels of the Garden:
A Darwinian Natural History of Hummingbirds
Tuesday, August 23, 7:00pm
Arboretum Horticulture II Building
Free Event and Free parking
Donations welcome.

bruce lyonFeaturing Bruce Lyon, UCSC Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

This presentation will explore hummingbird natural history from the perspective of a scientist who studies bird ecology and evolution, answering questions such as:
  • What are the different ways that hummingbird species make a living?
  • How do plant features shape the evolution of hummingbird adaptations?
  • Is there a limit to the number of hummingbird species that can be packed into one location?
Abstract from Dr. Lyon: I will explore hummingbird natural history from the perspective of a scientist who studies bird ecology and evolution. I will start with a brief overview of the discovery of hummingbirds, some of their unique features and their evolutionary diversification. I will then consider an amazing feature of Arboretum—its extraordinary number of hummingbirds. A survey of the different nectar-feeding birds from around the world, and the flowers they feed on, makes us realize that we have a biogeographic mismatch: New World nectar-eating birds feeding on Australian plants that evolved with a completely different cast of nectar-eating characters. More generally, all hummingbirds have very close relationships with flowers so we will explore some of the most interesting ecological and evolutionary relationships between hummingbirds and the flowers they visit and pollinate. What are the different ways that hummingbird species make a living? How do plant features shape the evolution of hummingbird adaptations? Is there a limit to the number of hummingbird species that can be packed into one location? Hummingbirds also make wonderful subjects for scientific studies, particularly for investigating how animals see the world and make foraging decisions (what to eat, where to eat it and when to it). Hummingbirds are easily trained to visit artificial feeders, which can then be altered to offer different food rewards or the cues the birds use to find their food plants. I will end the talk with a summary of a couple of these intriguing studies. 

Click to read/download event flyer (pdf).


Botanizing the Pacific Islands of Baja California, Mexico
Tuesday, January 19, 6:00pm
Arboretum Horticulture II Building
Free Event and Free parking
Donations welcome.

Featuring Vince Scheidt, San Diego Biologist. 
Vince Scheidt San Diego BiologistVince Scheidt is a consulting environmental biologist based in San Diego, California. He specializes in botany and herpetology, but enjoys all aspects of natural history. Vince has owned his own biological consulting practice since 1980, providing biological surveys for to the local community on a full-time basis.