Ep. 121 - Mosquitoes: The Unlikely Pollinators

Mosquitoes are maligned the world over and often for very good reason. However, there are a plethora of different species of mosquito on this planet and many of them do not bite humans or spread disease. In fact, some of them are important pollinators. In this episode we take a closer look at an orchid that relies on mosquitoes for pollination. The one leaved rein orchid (Platanthera obtusata) grows in close association with mosquitoes and our guests, postdoc Chloé Lahondère and grad student Ryo Okubo are working hard to understand how this system works. Their research not only helps us understand these overlooked pollinators but also provides deeper insights into how mosquitoes find their food sources. This is a great example of the kind of collaborative science I love!

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Ep. 120 - Understanding Rapid 'Ohi'a Death

The 'Ohi'a (Metrosideros polymorpha) is the dominant tree on the Hawai'ian Archipelago and it is under attack by two different species of invasive fungi. Trying to understand and combat the spread of these pathogens is one of the main focuses of our guest, Dr. James B. Friday. Together with multiple different stakeholders, they are trying to understand how these fungi got to the island and what can be done to protect Hawai'i's most famous tree. Allan, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 119 - Plant Architecture

Our guest today is Dr. Karl Niklas. His work utilizes mathematics to explain plant growth and form in relation to four basic physical constraints: 1) Plants have to capture sunlight and avoid shading their own leaves, 2) Plants have to support themselves structurally, 3) Plants have to conduct water to their various tissues, and 4) Plants must be able to reproduce effectively. Using these basic constraints, Dr. Niklas builds mathematical simulations of plant evolution. Join us for a fascinating dive into the biophysical world of plant evolution. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Daniel, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 118 - Reflections On Summer Botanizing

I am back in Illinois and I met up with my good friend Steve (co-host of The Field Guides Podcast) to wax poetic about summer botanizing. Steve has spent most of his summer exploring Illinois while I have been busying myself in the southern Appalachian Mountains. We bring a lot of interesting species to the table in this episode, each with its own memorable experience. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Daniel, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 117 - Alfred Russel Wallace and Evolution

Today we are continuing our conversation with Dr. James Costa. This week, we take a deeper look at the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, a man who independently began developing a theory of evolution. You will find out why we hardly remember Wallace for his contributions to this fascinating world of science and inquiry. This is a different kind of discussion than we normally have here at In Defense of Plants but I think it is important to humanize the sciences every now and then. This episode was produced in part by Allan, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Daniel, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Costa's work

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Ep. 116 - Social Caterpillars, Their Host Trees, and the Origins of Evolutionary Science Pt. 1

For Dr. James Costa, a love of biology started early. It eventually evolved into a career studying social insects and their interactions with plants. It also evolved into a passion for the history of science, specifically that of evolutionary theory. Dr. Costa wears many hats and you will hear about some of them in part one of this two part episode! This episode was produced in part by Allan, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Daniel, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Christopher, Sienna and Garth, Margie, Laura, and Mark.

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Ep. 115 - On Old Growth Forests and Disturbance

Today we are talking about one of my favorite subjects - old growth forests. Joining us is Dr. Beverly Collins, an associate professor at Western Carolina University. Her work looks at the dynamics of old growth forests, especially as it relates to disturbances. She is especially curious about the role disturbance plays in the survival of understory herbs. This episode was produced in part by  Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Amy, and Caitlin. 

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Ep. 114 - A Tour of the Tilden Park Botanical Garden or The Flora of California Condensed

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT PHOTOS FROM THIS TOUR

In this episode, In Defense of Plants is going back in time a bit to my visit to San Francisco. What you are about to hear is a tour of Tilden Park's wonderful botanical garden whose purpose is the collection, growth, display, and preservation of the native plants of California. This was easily one of the most impressive living collections I have ever seen. The tour was led by none other than Bart O'Brien, who has been placed in charge of this amazing place. If you head on over to www.indefenseofplants.com/podcast you can find the photo album that accompanies this trip. This episode was produced in part by  Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Amy, and Caitlin. 

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Ep. 113 - Restoring Ecosystems Across the Globe

Restoration ecology is a topic near and dear to my heart. The idea of nursing the land back to health is something we all must rally behind. Plants are at the center of this practice and our guest today has devoted his career to understanding both plant diversity and how to restore their populations following human disturbance. Joining us from western Australia is Dr. Kingsley Dixon. Restoration is quite challenging in this harsh landscape but the lessons Dr. Dixon has learned over the years is being used to improve restoration projects around the globe. This is one episode you do not want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, Mary Jane, and Caitlin. 

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Ep. 112 - The Wild World of Moss Sex

Plants have interesting sex lives. In this episode we take a closer look at reproduction in the mosses, in particular, a species known as fire moss. Joining us to talk about a particularly interesting version of this is Leslie Kollar, a PhD student at the University of Florida. Her work is fascinating and this is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane. 

Follow Leslie on Twitter - @Kollar_Genetics

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Ep. 111 - Leaf Miners

You have all probably seen them, however, many probably don't realize what they are. Leaf miners are any sort of arthropod that lives part or all of its life nestled in the tissues of a leaf. This is an amazing world that desperately need more attention. That's where people like Charley Eiseman come in. Charley has devoted much of his free time to trying to better understand the leaf miners of North America. Along the way he has made some exciting discoveries, describing new species in his own back yard! Join us for a riveting about the micro world. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.  

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Ep. 110 - Resolving Ice Age Ecosysems: Using the Past to Understand the Future

Trying to piece together an accurate picture of past ecosystems requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. That is why I am so amazed by the work of today's guest. Joining us is paleoecologist Dr. Jacquelyn Gill to talk about her work on ice age ecology. The clues she uses to tell the story of these systems are surprisingly small but incredibly useful. What's more, her work can help us better understand how ecosystems are going to change as man-made climate change rages on. This is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane. 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Gill's Work

Check out The Contemplative Mammoth

Listen to Warm Regards

Follow Dr. Gill on Twitter - @JacquelynGill

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Ep. 109 - Phylogenetics and the Largest Flower in the World

Joining us today from Harvard University is Dr. Charles Davis. His lab focuses on elucidating the phylogenetic relationships among the plants of the world. One of his most exciting projects revolves around a genus of plants known as Rafflesia, which is famous the world over for producing the largest single flower on this planet. Join us for a wonderfully enlightening conversation about taxonomy. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane. 

Click here to learn more about Dr. Davis's work

Check out the digital herbaria

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Ep. 108 - Being a Botanist in Laos

Our guest today is Bryony Smart who is a botanist at the Pha Tad Ke Botanical Garden in Laos. This is the first botanical garden in the country and because of that, Bryony and her colleagues are working diligently on categorizing and preserving the flora of this amazing country. Their work extends far beyond botany as well. Pha Tad Key Botanical Garden exists as a conduit between the local communities and the myriad plant species they rely on for survival. Join us for a fascinating discussion of what it's like to be a botanist in this position. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.  

Learn more about the Pha Tad Key Botanical Garden

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Ep. 107 - Chestnut Blight: Causes and Solutions

This week we take a deep dive into the world of chestnut blight. This fungal pathogen was introduced to North America in the early 1900's and has all but eliminated one of the dominant tree species of eastern US forests. Our guest today is Kristin Wickert, a PhD student at West Virginia University specializing in plant fungal pathogens. Join us as we discuss the in's and out's of this conservation issue. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

Shoot Kristen an email at klw5421@gmail.com

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Ep. 106 - Are Vines Parasites?

Vines are iconic the world around. Some are maligned whereas others are celebrated. Regardless of these viewpoints, their ecological importance cannot be understated. Joining us today to talk about the relationships between vines and trees is Tara Stewart, a PhD student at the University of Illinois. Tara and her colleague have taken a step back to ask some bigger theoretical questions about the relationships that vines have with trees. Join us for a fascinating discussion about this botanical lifestyle. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

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Click here to read the paper

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Ep. 105 - Talking Soil With Author Paul Bogard

The soils beneath our feet comprise a complex ecosystem in and of themselves. Soils support literally every major ecosystem on this planet. Despite all of this, they are largely ignored. Even worse, we continually degrade them without a care in the world. Their degradation is what inspired author Paul Bogard (The End of Night) to write his latest contribution to the world of science communication. Join us for a fascinating discussion about his new book The Ground Beneath Us. Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

Learn more about Paul

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Ep. 104 - Rock gardens, alpines, and aquatics, oh my!

I don't think I have to say that my favorite people are plant people. Joining us today is Tom Freeth, the man in charge of the rock, alpine, and aquatic gardens at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Tom has devoted his life to growing and understanding plants and has had an amazing journey to get to where he is at today. He passion and interests come through in every word. It was a real pleasure talking with Tom and I know you are going to enjoy this conversation. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

Follow Tom on Twitter - @tfreeth

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Ep. 103 - The Trout Lily Project

Calling all citizen scientists! The Trout Lilt Project needs your help! Joining us today is Dr. Emily Austen, a post doc at the University of Ottawa. You may remember Dr. Austen from episode 52 where we discussed her work on the evolution of flowering plants. Shes back today to give us updates on the results of 2016's citizen science reporting as well as to call for more citizen scientists to help with the project. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

Click here to get involved!

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Ep. 102 - Building a Flora of Syria

Did you know that there are many regions around the world that incomplete floras? Syria is one such place and my guest today is working very hard on adding to our understanding of this biodiverse region. With her focus on geophytes, Angham Daiyoub is scouring the mountainous regions of western Syria to characterize the seasonal plant diversity. There are many challenges associated with this task so join us for a fascinating discussion of what its like to be a botanist in Syria. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.

Make sure to follow Angham on Instagram

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