Ep. 96 - Guam's Changing Forests

Guam is a sort of poster child for invasive species. Following the accidental introduction of the brown tree snake, this tiny Pacific Island lost nearly all of its bird populations. With them went all of the ecosystem services they performed. Joining us today is Dr. Haldre Rogers of Iowa State University to talk about some of the ramifications of this ecological upheaval. As you will soon find out, the loss of birds is felt throughout the entire forest ecosystem. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, and Manuel.

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Ep. 95 - Epiphyte Restoration

Protecting and restoring biodiversity to tropical forests is paramount to maintaining the ecological integrity of these areas. My guest today is Estefania Fernandez and she is working in a brand new field of restoration ecology that focuses on epiphyte communities. Join us for a fascinating discussion on restoring health to tropical forests. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, and Manuel.

Contact Estefania - epi.stef@gmail.com

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Ep. 94 - Winter Botanizing

This week we head out into the prairie to do some winter botanizing. We meet a handful of cool plants along the way. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, and Manuel. 

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Ep. 93 - Botanizing Ichetucknee Springs

This week we are doing something a little different. We're trading in our hiking boots for a kayak and a paddle. We're going for a paddle on the Ichetucknee River. The crystal clear water was chock full of botanical treasures of all kinds. We were joined by aquatic botanist Dr. Colette Jacono and botanist Dr. Mark Whitten among others. This was a fun trip and I learned a lot. We were in a large group so I apologize in advance for the background noise. This episode was produced by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, and Christopher.

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Ep. 92 - The Flora of Middle-Earth

This week's interview is one of the most unique that I have had to date. Joining us this week is Dr. Walter Judd, distinguished professor, emeritus from the University of Florida. Dr. Judd specialized in plant systematics, specifically the taxonomy of members of Ericaceae and Melastomataceae. More recently, however, Dr. Judd has been working on the Flora of Middle Earth. Join us for a fascinating discussion about botany, biodiversity, and the importance of imagination in appreciating the natural world. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, and Christopher.

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Ep. 91 - Botanizing a Long Leaf Pine Savanna

This week we take an enlightening hike through a long leaf pine savanna. Our guide is botanist extraordinaire, Dr. Mark Whitten of the Florida Museum of Natural History. I learned a lot on this hike through one of North America's most biodiverse habitat types. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

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Ep. 90 - Reflections on Science

This week we are joined by Steven Fleck of The Field Guides Podcast for a fun delve into the life and thoughts of a couple of grad students. We touch on life as a grad student, how reading scientific research can help maintain a critical lens on the world, and what inspired Steve and Bill to create their podcast. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

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Ep. 89 - Conversations on Forest Health

Forest health is a complicated topic. It means something different to nearly everyone you ask. However, the ecological component of this concept is vital to the success of any patch of forest. That is where people like Dr. David Coyle come in. David left a career in academia to focus on helping land owners make sound ecological decisions. Join us for a discussion on forest health. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

Click here to learn more about Southern Forest Health

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Ep. 88 - Plant Diversity and Systematics

Lately I have been thinking a lot about plant diversity. Sure, the early days of plant exploration are long behind us, however, there are still plenty of botanical mysteries yet to be discovered. This goes so much deeper than simple fame and glory too. How can we protect species that we don't even know exist? That is where people like Dr. John Clark come in. Dr. Clark has made a career out of discovering and describing plant species new to science. As you will here, this doesn't always mean finding small plants tucked away in the hard to reach corners of the world. Even large and dominant trees have avoided our attention. Join us for an inspiring conversation about plant systematics. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

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Ep. 87 - Fire in the Forest

I have been thinking about fire a lot these days. In the wake of recent forest fires in the southeast, I wanted to take a closer look at what fires mean for ecosystems other than prairies. To do this, I sat down with my good friend and lab mate, Tyler Refsland, to discuss the implications of fire in forest ecosystems. Tyler's work is based in the oak-hickory forests of southern Illinois and takes a unique perspective that spans many scales, from mycorrhizal fungi, to individual trees, and up to forest composition as a whole. Although this isn't an all encompassing look at the role of fire in ecosystems, it nonetheless offers a lot of food for thought. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

You can reach Tyler via email: refslan2@illinois.edu

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Ep. 86 - Plant Propagation at Kew

Personally, I think plant propagation is one of the most important skills anyone can have. That is why I was so excited to talk with my guest this week. Rebecca Hilgenhof is a Botanical Horticulturist at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. She has the charmed position of propagation a bewildering variety of plants both for conservation and education. This is a fascinating discussion that I know you are going to enjoy. This episode was produced in part by  Gregory, Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

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Ep. 85 - Plant Conservation in the Modern Era

When it comes to conservation, plants have largely been overlooked. We tend to spend a lot more time with "charismatic" species of animals. For instance, 100% of the world's known threatened and endangered animals have been assessed by the IUCN whereas we have only assessed about 5% of plants. This is quite scary considering that so-called biodiversity hot spots are defined by their vascular flora. This is why the New York Botanical Garden is working to improve our literacy of the botanical world. My guest today is Dr. Brian Boom who, among other titles, is the VP for Conservation Strategy for the New York Botanical Garden. Join us for an inspiring conversation about plant conservation in the modern world. This episode was produced in part by  Gregory, Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Boom

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Ep. 84 - Project Pine Cone and Other Botanical Adventures

Pine cones are fascinating structures. These scaly organs are the female reproductive structures of conifers. As children we collect them, throw them, decorate them, and even smother them in peanut butter and seeds to attract birds. My guest today takes pine cone collecting to a new level. Renee Popp is retired botanist from the US Forest Service and is the creator of Project Pine Cone. Renee's goal is to amass a collection of cones from every species of pine on the planet. She uses her collection to teach children and adults about not only pines, but also bigger ideas in botany and ecology. Her stories are inspiring in a big way and I know you are going to enjoy this conversation. The episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.

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Ep. 83 - The Sedge-isode

Sedges. This wonderfully diverse group of grass-like plants can be quite intimidating to those who are new to the world of plant identification. Sedges are to botanists as shore birds are to birders. Because of this, sedges are often glazed over as yet another gramminoid for amateurs and ecologists alike. This is not a good thing as sedges are incredibly important components of healthy ecosystems around the globe. In fact, many sedge species are the backbone of some very sensitive habitats. Join me for a discussion with botanist Paul Marcum who has a special affinity for this family of plants. Hopefully by the end of this conversation we will have inspired you to take a closer look at the sedges in your neighborhood. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Allen, Bryan, Desiree, Troy, Margie, and Laura.

Click here to learn more about the Illinois Native Plant Society

Click here to find out more about the Forest Glen Chapter

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Ep. 82 - Environmental Action: Putting Your Energy to Good Use

There are a lot of angry people out there. However, sitting on your couch and being apathetic is no good. Join me for a conversation with my good friend Bill Michalek about channeling your energy into environmental action. When Bill isn't teaching he is also co-hosting The Field Guides Podcast, a monthly show that takes you out into the field to learn about the environment. This episode was produced in part by  Allan, Gregory, Mark, Laura, and Margie.

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Ep. 81 - Contemplations on Biocontrol

No matter where you stand on the topic of invasive species, they are a force we must reckon with. My guest on this episode is working intimately with the ecology of an invasive tree known commonly as Tree of Heaven. Kristen Wickert is a PhD student at West Virginia University and she is investigating the use of a native species of fungus that is proving to be quit effective at ridding the landscape of this aggressive tree. Join us for a fascinating dive into the world of a plant pathologist. This episode was produced in part by  Allan, Gregory, Mark, Laura, and Margie.

Shoot Kristen an email at klw5421@gmail.com

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Ep. 80 - Lichens and Their Conservation

Lichens are everywhere and we hardly ever notice them. Aside from their beauty and interesting symbiotic relationships, lichens are also crucial components of their environment. Today we are joined by Jessica Allen, a PhD student who is devoting her career to understanding and preserving these wonderful organisms. Please join us for a fascinating discussion about the world of lichens. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Bryan, Laura, Margie, and Allan.

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Ep. 79 - A Lifetime With Orchids

Today we are joined by Tom Mirenda. Tom has the unique position of Orchid Collections Specialist for the Smithsonian Institute. At somewhere around 8,000 plants, this is no small task. He has spent his life loving and caring for orchids and when he is not doing that, he is busy lecturing and writing about them. This is a wonderful case in which a passionate hobby has turned into an illustrious career centered around these incredible organisms. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Bryan, Laura, Margie, and Allan.

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Ep. 78 - A Focus On Native Bees

North America is home to a plethora of native bees. Sadly, they are a bit of a mystery. Overshadowed by non-native honey bees, many of our native species are in serious trouble. That is where scientists like Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt come in. An assistant professor of entomology at the University of Illinois, her lab is focused on the interactions between native bees and the surrounding plant communities. This is a fascinating discussion that will hopefully inspire more people to dive into the shadows surrounding these important players in our local ecology. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Bryan, Laura, Margie, and Allan. 

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Ep. 77 - Native Plants and the Human Environment - A Landscape Architect's Perspective

Landscape architects have a unique position. They get to decide the way in which we utilize different plant species in the human environment. The push for using native plants has never been greater and rightly so. Native plants are the cornerstone of a healthy ecosystem. That is where people like Bridgette Moen come in. Bridgette is a landscape architect who has realized the importance of creating more sustainable landscapes that rely on native plants to tie everything together. In a sea of concrete, such landscapes are often the only viable habitat around. Join us for a fascinating dive into the world of a landscape architect who is pushing for more native plants. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Bryan, Margie, and Laura. 

If you would like to contact Bridgette, send her an email: bmoen2@gmail.com

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