FRAMINGHAM — Native Plant Trust recently announced a virtual symposium on the changing climate and its effects on the region’s flora from 1-4 p.m. Oct. 29.
The program will address methods for building climate resilience and how key players can support this process. The virtual symposium will feature distinguished experts in the fields of ecology, climate adaptation and conservation biology.
The event will include a keynote address by Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, associate professor of paleoecology and plant ecology at the University of Maine. The symposium also includes a workshop on climate adaptation networks, and a panel highlighting current climate change patterns, their implications for the future of New England’s plant diversity, and the path toward climate resilience.
“The climate resilience discussion builds on our recent report, Conserving Plant Diversity in New England,” said Courtney Allen, Native Plant Trust’s director of public programs. “The symposium will consider diverse perspectives that offer cutting-edge thinking on applicable conservation strategies and tools. Working together to implement best practices now will greatly impact the future of native plants and the ecosystems they support.”
Gill will present the keynote on native plants and climate resilience in long timescales. Gill is a paleoecologist, biogeographer and science communicator. Her research focuses on the influences of space and time on questions in ecology and global change science. Her work addresses novel communities and ecosystems, biotic drivers of landscape change on long timescales, and paleorecord implications on plants’ abilities to migrate in response to climate change. Gill directs the University of Maine Climate Change Institute’s Laboratory for Biodiversity and Environments Across Space and Time (BEAST Lab).
Melissa Ocana, climate adaptation coordinator at UMass Amherst, will lead a workshop on networking communities for conservation practice. Ocana coordinates partnerships and builds capacity for climate adaptation and natural resources. Her expertise includes climate adaptation networks and collaboratives, peer-to-peer learning, ecosystem resilience/transformation, and wildlife conservation. She founded the American Society of Adaptation Professionals Network of Networks Group and is the organizer for Massachusetts Ecosystem Climate Adaptation Network. Ocana also engages in national climate efforts, such as the Climate Adaptation Fund Advisory Council and National Adaptation Forum Steering Committee. Ocana will present the workshop in collaboration with MASS ECAN.
Dr. Christopher Neill, senior scientist at Woodwell Climate Research Center, studies ecosystems around the globe, always with a local focus. He is interested broadly in how changes in land use affect ecosystem function, and in our ability to restore impaired systems. In Massachusetts, he studies how the choices we make along our coasts and in our own backyards affect biodiversity. Neill works with regional and national conservation organizations to design improved methods of ecosystem protection, restoring coastal grasslands and cranberry bogs. He is also a leading communicator for the Yard Futures Project, a science communication collaboration with Native Plant Trust and numerous research institutions.
Dr. Angelica Patterson is the master science educator at Black Rock Forest in Cornwall, New York. She received her bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University and her Master of Arts, Master of Philosophy, and doctorate degrees from Columbia University, where she studied plant ecophysiology. Inspired by the mechanisms behind climate-induced tree migration and plant community shifts, she examines the physiological responses of northeastern U.S. trees to increasing atmospheric temperatures. At Black Rock Forest, Patterson works with educators to develop innovative, data-driven curricula and inclusive teaching practices, and she directs summer science experiences for underserved students. She is an advocate and frequent public speaker for diversity, equity and inclusion in the environmental sciences. Her research and science communication efforts have been profiled in publications such as The Guardian, The Forestry Source, Cell Press, and the National Environmental Education Foundation.
Aaron Marcus is the assistant botanist for Vermont Fish & Wildlife, with further expertise in conservation biology, native plants, and plant education. Marcus manages the endangered and rare plant data for Vermont and makes the data available in the Agency of Natural Resources’ Natural Resources Atlas, which makes possible plant diversity tracking and conservation planning. Marcus has spearheaded the status review of hundreds of Vermont’s plant species to help monitor the state’s most-at-risk plant species, notably in Green Mountain National Forest. Marcus is a graduate of Native Plant Trust’s Certificate Program in Native Plant Studies.
For more information and to register for the symposium, visit http://nativeplanttrust.org.