Ep. 53 - Getting to Know the Carnivorous Yellow Butterwort (Pinguicula lutea)

Butterwort may sound like a silly name for a plant, however, the genus to which the name refers is anything but. The genus Pinguicula houses some of the most beautiful carnivorous plants on the planet. Despite their intriguing nature, we know very little about this group of plants. This is where researchers like Sam Primer of the University of Illinois come in. I first met Sam at a conference where she gave a talk about the yellow butterwort of the American southeast. Since then I have been interested in the work she is doing. Because we know so little about this species, Sam has devoted the last few years of her life to gaining a deeper understanding about everything from their carnivorous habit to their ongoing conservation. Sam's work has opened up many new lines of inquiry into this enigmatic group of carnivores. Join us for a great conversation that you are sure to enjoy!

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Ep. 52 - Flower Phenology: A Story of Tradeoffs

Being sessile organisms, plants have to be able to cope with changes in their environment in unique ways. One of the major challenges plants face is knowing when to flower. Whereas some species stick to steadfast schedules, others have evolved some flexibility to cope with their stochastic surroundings. Dr. Emily Austen is interested in the evolution and maintenance of flowering strategies. She is also undertaking a fascinating citizen science project involving trout lily pollen color. With spring well underway, this is a timely episode you won't want to miss.

Click here to find out more about how you can get involved with Dr. Austen's trout lily research. 

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Ep. 48 - Coffee Ecology

Worldwide, we humans drink roughly 2.25 billion cups of coffee per day. Our consumption of coffee comes at a great cost to the environment. Around 11 million hectares of land have been turned into coffee plantations, much of which consists of large scale, chemically laden, industrial monocultures. Because of its massive ecological impact, people like Dr. Ivette Perfecto from the University of Michigan have dedicated their research careers to helping make coffee farming more ecologically friendly. It all starts with small scale farmers in Latin America. By introducing ecological principals back into the farming practices of this region, Dr. Perfecto and her collaborators are helping to make coffee farming more sustainable, and at the same time, helping to educate local farmers about the importance of nature and all of its players. Join me for a fascinating conversation about coffee ecology. This episode was produced in part by Alan from Wisconsin.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Perfecto's research.

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Ep. 41 - Orchid Sex

The orchid family is the most diverse plant family on the planet. Much of this diversity is driven by intricate and often highly specific relationships with their pollinators. My friend and fellow orchid fanatic Tierney Rosenstock joins us this week to talk to us about how a deep fascination with orchids turned into some pretty awesome research. Her work on the reproductive ecology of the pink lady slipper orchid reveals interesting evolutionary relationships and a need to understand the ecosystem beyond just your study organisms. 

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