A tale of two forests could reveal path forward for saving endangered lemurs

Black-and-white ruffed lemur (Image: Shutterstock)

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By Talia Ogliore 

Yes, spring flowers are blooming earlier.
It might confuse bees.

But change is even more challenging for plants that need help with pollination

“Climate change is altering when plants are blooming, and it’s disrupting the historic relationships between plants and their pollinators,” said Matthew Austin, an ecologist and biodiversity postdoctoral fellow with the Living Earth Collaborative at Washington University in St. Louis. “But we know remarkably little about what effect that has on how plants interact with one another and the evolutionary consequences of altered plant-plant interactions.”

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By Talia Ogliore 

Peter Raven autobiography just released!

Driven by Nature: A Personal Journey from Shanghai to Botany to Global Sustainabilityby Peter H. Raven
It’s safe to say that few people have lived lives as thoroughly devoted to plants as Peter H. Raven has. The longtime director—now president emeritus—of the Missouri Botanical Garden, author of numerous leading textbooks and several hundred scholarly articles, Raven has been a tireless champion of sustainability and biodiversity, earning him the plaudit of “Hero for the Planet” from Time.

Driven by Nature is the first chronicle of this prominent scientist and conservationist’s life. Moving from his idyllic childhood in the San Francisco of the 1940s to his four decades leading the Missouri Botanical Garden, Raven’s autobiography take readers across multiple continents and decades. Driven by Nature follows the globetrotting botanist from China to the American Midwest as he works to foster concern for a changing planet, further the cause of biological education, and build the Missouri Botanical Garden into the world-renowned haven for plant life it is today. Raven brings his story into the twenty-first century with a timely epilogue that reinforces the crucial importance of scientific learning, active conservation, and committed activism in the face of a rapidly changing natural world.

Featuring an introduction by the Pulitzer Prize-winning naturalist E. O. Wilson, this beautifully illustrated book should thrill nature lovers, plant enthusiasts, and environmentally-conscious readers looking to take action to preserve our planet’s biodiversity.

Click here to place your order

As revenues slide amid pandemic, scientists warn of ‘orphaned’ plant and animal collections

By Bryce Gray Dec 6, 2020

Climatron Celebrates 60th Birthday at Missouri Botanical Garden
Horticulturist Susie Ratcliff waters plants in the Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Today, the Climatron celebrates its 60th birthday. In 1960, the Missouri Botanical Garden opened the Climatron, a domed conservatory packed with orchids, palms, and other tropical plants. Today, more than 2,800 plants, including 1,400 different tropical species, grow inside the Climatron. Photo by Cheyenne Boone, cboone@post-dispatch.com

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Secrets of the ‘lost crops’ revealed where bison roam

By Talia Ogliore  November 23, 2020theSOURCE

American bison at the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma. (Photo: Natalie Mueller)

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What cold lizards in Miami can tell us about climate change resilience

By Talia Ogliore  October 20, 2020theSOURCE

Basiliscus vittatus
Central American brown basilisks (Basiliscus vittatus) are among the members of a lizard community that converged on a lower temperature tolerance after a cold snap in Miami. (Photo courtesy Day’s Edge Productions)

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by: Angela Hutti / FOX2NOW
Posted: Oct 15, 2020 / 05:16 PM CDT / Updated: Oct 15, 2020 / 05:16 PM CDT

Winners of ISME/IWA BioCluster Award 2020 announced …

CONGRATULATIONS … to LEC Biodiversity Fellow, Fangqiong Ling


Sicker livestock may increase climate woes

Viscous cycle: More parasites means higher emissions of potent greenhouse gas
Climate change is affecting the spread and severity of infectious diseases around the world — and infectious diseases may in turn be contributing to climate change, according to a new paper published Oct. 7 in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.


Read more: Infectious Diseases, Livestock, and Climate: A Vicious Cycle?

Elderly ball python lays eggs ‘without male help’

The female ball python is thought to the oldest snake living in a zoo

With travel limits and labs closed,
MoBot researchers struggle to name,
catalog new species

By Max Kozlov St. Louis Post-DispatchSep 3, 2020

Flowers bloom along the wooden walkway over the pond in the Japanese Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden as seen on Monday, June 15, 2020. MoBot is reopening to the general public on Tuesday, June 16th. Before arriving, visitors will need to buy timed tickets online or by phone for entry to the garden and everyone will be required to wear a face mask. To ensure social distancing some narrow paths through the garden will be closed. Photo by David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com

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Once infected, twice infected

Prior exposure to powdery mildew makes plants more vulnerable to subsequent disease

By Marta Wegorzewska  August 31, 2020

Powdery mildew infection is a big problem for crops and other plants worldwide. An innovative study shows that wild plants infected early in life are more vulnerable to subsequent disease. The research from biologist Rachel Penczykowski in Arts & Sciences is published Aug. 31, 2020, in Nature Ecology & Evolution. (Photo: Penczykowski lab)

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PBS News Hour program on Wildlife Trafficking includes our LEC Fellow, Odean Serrano

Lifestyle trumps geography in determining makeup of gut microbiome

Captive apes’ microbiomes more similar to some humans’ than to wild apes’

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April 1, 2020


A bird’s-eye view of global health

By Christian Fogerty

As a science communications fellow at Tyson Research Center, Christian Fogerty embedded with the tick and wildlife ecology team to document their summer fieldwork. Here, he reflects on his experience and explains how it impacted his perspective on global health.


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Postdoctoral Fellowships in Restoration

Ecology at the Missouri Botanical Garden

The Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development (CCSD) at the Missouri Botanical Garden seeks to hire two full-time postdoctoral scholars. The candidates will 1) develop and implement collaborative research project(s) that advance restoration science in woodlands, grasslands, and glades at MBG’s Shaw Nature Reserve and the broader region; 2) train and mentor undergraduate and graduate students; 3) assist MBG scientists with coordinating grant-funded activities including recruitment and mentoring of students, organizing and participating in outreach events and workshops, and presenting lectures to professional organizations and the general public; 4) prepare and submit manuscripts for publication; 5) build relationships with SNR staff and collaborative partners; and 6) actively participate in events with the St. Louis Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation community.

MBG’s Shaw Nature Reserve contains over 2,000 acres of fire-maintained woodlands, grasslands, and glades. Three decades of ecological restoration (i.e., selective tree thinning, removal of invasive species, prescribed fire, seeding of native species) has resulted in a chronosequence of restored natural areas at SNR. As part of this grant-funded project, new sites will be restored over the next three years. The successful candidates will be expected to develop new research projects related to their subject of interest, but focusing on past and/or future restorations at SNR. Research projects may also include other field sites and natural areas in the region. We anticipate hiring one postdoctoral fellow whose research focuses on the population genetics of restored populations (in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Christy Edwards) and another whose research focuses on any of the following (in collaboration with the lab of Dr. Matthew Albrecht Lab): plant community ecology, seed-based restoration, plant-soil interactions, and/or biological invasions. Floristic knowledge of Midwestern plant communities is desirable, but not required. The successful candidates will have opportunities to collaborate with MBG scientists active in conservation genetics, reintroduction biology, restoration ecology, global change biology, and community ecology.

Candidates with a completed Ph.D. or that will soon graduate with a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Botany, Restoration Science, Environmental Science, Conservation Biology, or a related field are encouraged to apply.  Ideal start time is before summer 2020, but this is negotiable.  The term for this grant-funded position will be up to 3 years, with renewal each year contingent on satisfactory performance.  Salary will be commensurate with experience, and this position includes a comprehensive benefits package.

The position will be based in St. Louis, where a vibrant community of ecologists, conservation practitioners, and evolutionary biologists that interact through partnerships among MBG, Washington University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Saint Louis University, plus other area institutions. The position will be seated in the CCSD, which explores and implements new, science-based approaches to the conservation and sustainable use of plant diversity. CCSD’s strategies for conservation are based on a sound, scientific understanding of the occurrence and distribution of plants. CCSD applies the knowledge of plant diversity accumulated by Missouri Botanical Garden researchers over many years, making that knowledge usable for conservation planning and decision-making. Operating under the auspices of the Garden and as part of its division of Science and Conservation, CCSD builds upon the Garden’s institutional expertise, scientific programs, influence and resources.

For more information and to apply: https://usr57.dayforcehcm.com/CandidatePortal/en-US/MBG/Posting/View/471


Thursday, February 6  4:00-7:00PM

Join us for a free reception at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of Too Hot to Sing.

Too Hot to Sing is the result of Kasey Fowler-Finn’s research of how global warming directly affects the abilities of insects to find suitable mates. Her study focused on the treehopper. For this exhibition she collaborated with sound artist Stephen Vitiello whose recordings show how vibrational signals sound at different temperatures, and with Impact Media Lab, a creative agency for scientists.

Fowler Finn’s study shows how climate change can impact mating success and, ultimately, survival of species that communicate through vibrations. It is important to note that more than 90% of insects use vibrations to communicate within and between species.

Vitiello and Fowler-Finn used a specialized laser recording device to record the sounds of insects as they moved on the stems and leaves of plants. Vitiello then manipulated the sound recordings to make them audible to humans.

This exhibition, a collaboration between a scientist and an artist brings climate change into sharp focus as one of the existential challenges humanity faces.

Saint Louis University Museum of Art
3663 Lindell Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108


Parking will be available at the lot located at the intersection of Lindell and Spring Avenue.

The museum is free and open to the public.

Museum Hours: 
11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday

Researchers say goodbye to Georgette — A Very Tough Turtle

While part of the St. Louis Box Turtle Project, Georgette survived a serious bacterial infection and an animal attack. She died during the polar vortex at approximately age 15.
– Jamie Palmer | St. Louis Zoo Institute of Conservation Medicine


St. Louis Wildlife Project captures the day-to-day of region’s wild animals

A domestic cat and a red fox face off in a photo captured by a St. Louis Wildlife Project camera.
– Credit St. Louis Wildlife Project

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Bat poop may give Missouri researchers clues about historical changes to climate, vegetation

A cluster of hibernating gray bats (Myotis grisescens) (Ann Froschauer/USFWA/via Flickr)

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Four ways to curb light pollution, save bugs

Insects have experienced global declines.  Flipping the switch can help.

Artificial light at night negatively impacts thousands of species: beetles, moths, wasps and other insects that have evolved to use light levels as cues for courtship, foraging and navigation.

Writing in the scientific journal Biological Conservation, Brett Seymoure, the Grossman Family Postdoctoral Fellow of the Living Earth Collaborative at Washington University in St. Louis, and his collaborators reviewed 229 studies to document the myriad ways that light alters the living environment such that insects are unable to carry out crucial biological functions.

“Artificial light at night is human-caused lighting — ranging from streetlights to gas flares from oil extraction,” Seymoure said. “It can affect insects in pretty much every imaginable part of their lives.”



The air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat all rely on biodiversity, but right now it is in crisis – because of us. What does this mean for our future and can we stop it?

by Environment editor, The briefing

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LEC Welcomes the arrival of our first group of LEC Post-docs

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Mosquitoes push northern limits with time-capsule eggs to survive winters

New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that invasive mosquitos at the northern limit of their current range are successfully using time-capsule-like eggs to survive conditions that are colder than those in its native territory. (Photo: Shutterstock)


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Big Brains or big guts:  Choose one

The ptarmigan is a small-brained bird that thrives in colder, high latitude regions. A global study in the journal Nature Communications compares more than 2,000 birds and finds that, in highly variable environments, birds tend to have either larger or smaller brains relative to their body size. (Image: Shutterstock)


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Caught on camera

Wildlife of greater St. Louis area comes into focus in new biodiversity project.

St. Louis Wildlife Project / Washington University

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Missouri Botanical Garden and St. Louis Zoo win award for Madagascar conservation

A community garden with vegetable crops is part of a Missouri Botanical Garden program in Madagascar to help local community members diversify agricultural production and improve nutrition.  (Photo by Pete Lowry)

Two Malagasy women vaccinate a chicken as part of a project with the St. Louis Zoo to support poultry farms in Madagascar.  (Photo by Fidy Rasambainarivo/Madagascar Fauna Group)

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Peacable bonobos, violent chimpanzees and the evolution of human behavior

Tuesday, August 27, 2019 / 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm /

Anheuser-Busch Theater / The Living World

FREE ADMISSION – No reservations needed

Featured speaker: Richard Wrangham, PhD, Professor of Biological Anthropology, Harvard University.

Dr. Wrangham, a primate behavioral ecologist, has studied wild chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda, since 1987.

Domesticated animals such as dogs, pigs and horses often sport floppy ears, patches of white hair, and other features that are rare or unknown in their wild ancestors.  These traits – collectively referred to by scientists as a “domestication syndrome” – are found when selection favors reduced aggression.

Drawing from his new book, “The Goodness Paradox, “Richard Wrangham will show that our cousin apes, the bonobos, also exhibit domestication syndrome, and he will suggest why they do so.  Self-domestication is likely a widespread phenomenon in the wild.  It even appears responsible for the origin of our own species, Homo sapiens.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the Living Earth Collaborative.

Africa’s vultures fighting for survival – and winning?

Thursday, August 15, 2019 / 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm /

Anheuser-Busch Theater / The Living World

FREE ADMISSION – No reservations needed

Featured speaker: Darcy Ogada, Assistant Director of Africa Programs, The Peregrine Fund Based in central Kenya, most of Darcy’s work focuses on the conservation of vultures and ending the scourge of wildlife poisoning.

Africa’s vultures are in trouble; they have declined by 80 percent or more over three generations.  Four species are listed as critically endangered, and two species are endangered.  In Kenya, the biggest threat is poisoning, which is linked to 0 to human-carnivore conflict. In northern Kenya, Darcy’s team is reducing vulture poisoning and the conflict that triggers it through intensive community coexistence trainings.  Those trainings have had impacts far and wide, and in ways the team never imagined.

Learn about how the team is monitoring the region’s vulture champions and tackling regional issues associated with rampant wildlife poisoning.

Long live the long-limbed African Chicken

But researcher has bone to pick with modernization: Chickens are losing diversity

Domesticated chickens, first introduced to Africa thousands of years ago, continue to be an important staple item in the diets of rural villages across the continent. A new study from Arts & Sciences reveals much about the history of the selection process, and its role in African poultry development. (Photo: Helina Woldekiros)

Pick your chicken wisely. The choice could make or break your marriage.

St. Louis researchers receive funding for new biodiversity projects

Researchers Kevin Krause, left, and Megan Pagliaro, shown sampling fish in the Meramec River, were part of a recent biodiversity project led by St. Louis University biology professor Jason Knouft. Knouft received funding this week from the Living Earth Collaborative. Photo by Allison Davis.

Bison overlooked in domestication of grain crops

New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that several key small-seeded plants evolved to be dispersed by large grazing animals, like this bison, before humans eventually adopted them for food. (Photo: Carol Gray/Shutterstock)

Success of conservation efforts for important Caribbean Reef fish hinges on climate change

University of Texas at Austin, published in ScienceDaily

Tropical Forests Suffered Near-Record Tree Losses in 2017

By Brad Plumer, The New York Times

2017 was the second-worst year for tropical tree cover loss in the satellite record, just below the losses in 2016.

Oil palm and biodiversity

A situation analysis by the IUCN Oil Palm Task Force

Can a DNA Database Save the Trees? These Scientists Hope So

By Sandra E. Garcia, The New York Times

A World Resources Institute project aims to collect DNA samples from tree leaves and use it to help track illegal logging

To plant or not to plant?

By Leighton Reid, Natural History of Ecological Restoration, Missouri Botanical Garden

What we think we know about how to restore tropical forests is getting a second look. 

What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?

by Damian Carrington, Environmental editor of The Guardian

The air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you eat all rely on biodiversity, but right now it is in crisis – because of us. What does this mean for our future and can we stop it?