Colloquia and Symposia for Botany 2024

(The schedule will be announced at a later date - These are presented as Submitted - Subject to change)

Herbaria for the Future: Early Career Researchers and Their Uses of Herbarium Specimens

Submitted By  Nina House, University & Jepson Herbaria


Herbaria worldwide remain a powerful resources for primary data. Over the past decade, there have been new and innovative ways to access the wealth of information trapped in herbarium specimens. Whether it is high throughput DNA sequencing, non-destructive imaging, or isotope extraction, herbaria are much a part of cutting-edge scientific research. In particular, students, postdocs, and early career professionals are at the forefront of methodological advances in herbarium studies. As these newest members join the herbarium community, they bring novel ideas, unique skills, and invigorating research to their work. From floristic inventories, phylogenetic studies, comparative morphological work, conservation genetics, and more, this colloquium aims to highlight and celebrate herbaria in the modern era and early career botanists leading these efforts.

Financially supported by the IAPT and the BSA.  Supported in name only by  ASPT and SHC and the BSA Systematics Section

Small molecules shaping big interactions: Interdisciplinary perspectives from early career botanists bridging biochemistry, physiology, animal behavior, ecology, and evolution.

Submitted By, Jacob Francis,  Florida Atlantic University and University of California, Davis


Plants are extraordinary organic chemists leveraging an astounding suite of small molecules to mediate positive and negative interactions amongst one another and with pathogens, pollinators, and the bevy of other organisms they interact with. As efforts to train interdisciplinary scientists have expanded, new approaches reveal a range of complex mechanistic processes and biological activities underlying the complex influence of metabolic diversity on plant evolutionary ecology. This colloquium will bring together early-career interdisciplinary researchers to highlight the interconnectivity of molecular, organismal, and community-scale perspectives, supporting a new generation of chemical ecologists and comparative biochemists. Specifically, this colloquium will begin by emphasizing how new mathematical approaches can expand our understanding of scale-dependent energetic tradeoffs and species interactions. We will further feature empirical and theoretical case studies centering on the successes of interdisciplinary approaches that challenge or shed new light on established ideas. The colloquium will finish with a discussion of how aspiring chemical ecologists need to not only consider broad perspectives from the botanical sciences but also pay close attention to the fields of animal behavior and microbial evolutionary ecology to continue pushing the boundaries of our respective fields. This discussion will center around plants’ chemically mediated interactions with pollinators. It will highlight how carefully considering more than a century of ethological work on these critical mutualists can inform new botanical insights. This colloquium will serve as a platform to highlight new voices in plant chemical ecology and comparative biochemistry, providing opportunities to share interdisciplinary perspectives on pressing questions in the field.

Financially supported by the BSA and the BSA Phytochemistry Section.  Supported in name only by the BSA Ecology Section

Fire’s role in plant conservation and restoration

Submitted By, Aaron David, Archbold Biological Station


Fire is a natural process that shapes plant evolution, population dynamics, ecological communities, and ecosystems. In plant conservation and restoration, appropriate use of fire can be critical for success. In pyrogenic ecosystems, frequent fire is often crucial for maintaining plant populations and communities. Yet, several emerging challenges often exist to prescribing fire when needed, and lack of fire threatens the long-term success of such conservation and restoration efforts. In other systems, intense wildfires threaten biodiversity and may also drive extinction. Changes to climate, fuel loads, and ignition are increasing the prevalence of major wildfires, and these may ultimately change habitat types. Research on what these changing fire regimes mean for plant conservation is more important than ever and crucial for success. This session will explore the interface between fire and plant conservation and restoration. Several themes unify the fire-related research questions addressed by conservation and restoration botanists including changes in land use, climate, and species shifts in growth strategy or phenology. Speakers will present on a range of scales across species traits, populations, communities, and landscape restoration across geographic locations. Integrating each of these components in different habitats is essential to appropriate fire management in a changing world.

Financially supported by the BSA Ecology Section.

Research Priorities for Traditional African Crops

Submitted By, Will McMahan, University of California, Davis


Colonization and subsequent globalization have homogenized the global food system- according to UN FAO (2017) over 60% of calories consumed globally come from four crops: maize, wheat, rice, and soy. The vast monocultures of these crops are vulnerable to the erratic precipitation and temperatures of climate change, and their record-breaking yields are dependent on enormous external input. The homogenization of the food system has also had catastrophic implications for human health, leading to the paradox of undernutrition and overnutrition where 800 million people still don’t receive enough daily calories while simultaneously there are increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. A vast and untapped source of human nutrition is represented by the so-called orphan crops or neglected and underutilized plants species. This colloquium will highlight emerging research trends of this important group of plants in Africa and how the participants of Botany 2024 can support further research and adoption of traditional African crops (TAC).

Speakers will be drawn from participants of Botany 2024 and the colloquium will create a space to share results and network for future collaboration. Emphasis will be given to studies that critically evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to adopt TAC; how further research of the systematics and taxonomy of TAC can benefit their adoption; how herbaria curators can make their existing African collections available for research efforts; how TAC lend themselves to more sustainable and regenerative agriculture; ethnographic research of TAC and how dietary diversity leads to improved health outcomes; and ongoing efforts to increase both in situ and ex situ accessions of TAC to improve breeding and the dissemination of planting material. The effort to revitalize and adopt traditional African crops will require broad cooperation across multiple disciplines and this colloquium will provide the venue for participants from the many societies in attendance to come together to decide how to support ongoing research. The colloquium will conclude with a call to continue collaboration via a participatory format to set priorities and disseminate results.

Financially supported by the BSA. 

From Listing to Recovery: the Science, Processes, and Challenges of the U.S. Endangered Species Act

Submitted By:  Vivian Negron-Ortiz, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


Recent studies indicate at least one-fifth of the world’s plant species are at risk of extinction, and the rate of species loss is projected to accelerate due to climate change. Identifying and protecting at-risk plant species are especially urgent, and the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) is an important mechanism providing the legal authority to conserve species both domestically and abroad. Now in its 50th year, the ESA currently offers protections for over 900 listed plant species, with dozens more to be considered for listing within the next several years. This colloquium presents on the processes involved in implementing the ESA, from listing to delisting, and how science is used to inform each step of the process. Topics considered include the resiliency of threatened species in the face of extreme events; how species viability is evaluated in Species Status Assessments to inform ESA decisions; taxonomic, hybridization, or clonality challenges; conservation genetics; demographic models; reproductive biology; climate change; recovery successes; and related topics and case studies. The speakers we seek are U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) plant biologists, researchers, and other conservation partners who implement the ESA, work in different regions across the country, and represent various stages in their careers. We intend for this colloquium to inform researchers and conservation practitioners about the processes and challenges involved in ESA implementation, initiate dialogue on how researchers can help in the conservation and protection of at-risk and listed plant species, and to improve transparency of ESA implementation. 

Sponsored in name only by the BSA Ecology Section.

African Ethnobotany

Submitted By: Prof Ben-Erik Van Wyk, University of Johannesburg


The traditional uses of African plants remain poorly documented and indigenous knowledge runs the risk of becoming extinct before it has been systematically recorded and synthesized.

In recent years, considerable efforts have been made by African scientists to address this threat, especially in the southern African region. Several ethnobotanical surveys have been conducted, resulting in large volumes of high-quality data. The approach is typically to involve potential academic leaders from the various language groups to conduct interviews in their mother tongue. Progress made in recent years will be reviewed, and urgent knowledge gaps will be identified.