Scientist Lecture

Delve deeper into the issues and conditions that impact the world around us. These free academic lectures allow you to step back into the classroom and learn from the experts.

Each lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. All programs are held at 7pm.

Thursday, July 13 – Climate-driven change in Himalayan Rhododendrons: insights from history, ecology and traditional knowledge

Robbie Hart, Assistant Curator of High Elevation Ethnobotany and GLORIA at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Phenology – the seasonal timing of life-history events – is a critical dimension of natural history. Phenology is also one of the earliest and most noticeable traits by which organisms respond to climate change. However, these responses are complex, and only beginning to be understood, especially in the montane and alpine environments that are among the ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change. Dr. Hart will describe how climate affects phenology in rhododendrons at one of their centers of diversity – Mt. Yulong, in the mountains of Southwest China. Mt. Yulong is home to a suite of species that are diverse, dominant, and ecologically and culturally salient, and also an area extraordinarily well represented by a unique set of historical plant collections. This provides an extraordinary opportunity to elucidate the connections between climate and phenology in Himalayan rhododendron, beyond simple models of warming driving an ‘earlier spring’.