Join NYBG’s Center for Conservation Strategy staff and other renowned experts for an update on the progress of the first year of the New York City EcoFlora project, an effort to document all of the plant species that call our City home and the threats that face them. After a successful year, we’re celebrating the many citizen scientists who have made this extensive and impressive documentation possible.
This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [MA-10-16-0420-16]
About the New York City EcoFlora project
The New York City EcoFlora projects engage New Yorkers in protecting and preserving the City’s native plant species, and assembles new, original observations and data on the City’s flora to better inform policy decisions about management and conservation of the City’s natural resources.
The metropolitan area is home to a significant diversity of plants, animals, fungi, and habitats that provide such vital ecosystem services as cleaning the air and filtering the water. But this biodiversity is under increasing threat by development, invasive species, and a changing climate.
The project seeks to engage the public as citizen scientists to observe, collect, and compile information about the City’s plants and their relationships with other organisms, such as birds, insects, and mushrooms, and combine these data with all that is already known from natural history collections and scientific publications. The New York City EcoFlora is a real-time, online, ongoing checklist of plants—the first ever to connect plants in the web of life in New York City—that will result in a dynamic resource for conservation planning as well as in New Yorkers that are better informed about the importance of urban ecologies and who can contribute to protecting them.
Registration Check-in and Coffee in Ross Gallery
Introduction to the Conference, Brian M. Boom, Moderator
Welcoming Remarks, Carrie Rebora Barratt
Keynote Address: Bartram, Franklin and the Importance of Urban Botany,Thomas E. Lovejoy
The New York City EcoFlora, Brian M. Boom
State of New York City’s Plants 2018, Brian M. Boom
City Nature Challenge for 2018, Kelly L. O’Donnell
Citizen Science and the New York City EcoFlora, Daniel Atha
Finding the Wild; a Naturalist’s Adventures in NYC, Susan J. Hewitt
Awards for Citizen Scientists for Year One of New York City EcoFlora, Daniel Atha
Concluding Remarks and Next Steps, Brian M. Boom
Reception and Citizen Science Sign-up in Ross Gallery
Carrie Rebora Barratt
Carrie Rebora Barratt is Chief Executive Officer and William C. Steere Sr. President of The New York Botanical Garden. Dr. Barratt will deliver the conference’s Welcoming Remarks.
On July 1, 2018, Carrie Rebora Barratt, Ph.D., became the ninth CEO and President of The New York Botanical Garden and the first woman to hold the position. She came to the Garden following a distinguished 34-year career at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked as a curator and transitioned from research and scholarship to governance and administration, most recently serving since 2009 as Deputy Director, leading visitor-focused, mission-aligned initiatives for the institution during a transformational period in Museum’s history.
Thomas E. Lovejoy
Thomas E. Lovejoy is University Professor, George Mason University, and is on the Board of Trustees of The New York Botanical Garden. Dr. Lovejoy will deliver the conference’s Keynote Address: Bartram, Franklin and the Importance of Urban Botany.
Dr. Lovejoy, who has been called “the Godfather of Biodiversity,” is a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and University Professor in the Environmental Science and Policy department at George Mason University. Lovejoy was the World Bank’s Chief Biodiversity Advisor and the Lead Specialist for Environment for Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Senior Advisor to the President of the United Nations Foundation. In 2008, he also was the first Biodiversity Chair of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment to 2013. Previously he served as President of the Heinz Center since May 2002. Lovejoy introduced the term “biological diversity” to the scientific community in 1980. He formerly was Chair of the Scientific Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) for the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the multibillion-dollar funding mechanism for developing countries in support of their obligations under international environmental conventions. Among Dr. Lovejoy’s awards are the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (2001), Blue Planet Prize (2012), and The Gold Medal of The New York Botanical Garden (2014). He received his Ph.D. in Biology from Yale University.
Brian M. Boom
Brian M. Boom is Vice President for Conservation Strategy, Bassett Maguire Curator of Botany, and Director, NYBG Press and Science Outreach at The New York Botanical Garden. Dr. Boom will be the conference’s Moderator and present the lecture The New York City EcoFlora.
Dr. Boom’s principal responsibility is to provide executive leadership for NYBG’s Center for Conservation Strategy. For the past four decades, he has studied and published on plants in the United States and throughout Latin America and the Caribbean; for the past decade, his geographic and research focus has been on conservation in Cuba. He has held various administrative posts in the Science and Development divisions at NYBG, including that of Director of Science Development. Dr. Boom leads the effort at NYBG to determine the degree of endangerment of plant species throughout the Americas using a rapid assessment protocol developed at NYBG. Closer to home, he leads a project to help conserve North American Ash tree species, which are threatened with devastation due to an invasive beetle, the Emerald Ash Borer. He directs the New York City EcoFlora project, a citizen-science research initiative that connects urban people and nature and that provides the first dynamic, freely accessible online database about the native and naturalized plant species and their ecological partners in NYC. Dr. Boom received his Ph.D. from The Graduate Center of The City University of New York.
Kelly L. O'Donnell
Kelly L. O’Donnell is Professor and Director of Science Forward, Macaulay Honors College at The City University of New York Dr. O’Donnell will present a lecture on the City Nature Challenge for 2018
Dr. O’Donnell is a plant evolutionary ecologist who is interested in the plants that survive and thrive in the urban environment. As Director of Science Forward at Macaulay Honors College, she oversees a new type of undergraduate science seminar, helping students to see science as a lens on the world, a way of approaching questions and challenges. The course focuses on the critical thinking skills in use across the scientific disciplines, which Dr. O’Donnell and her colleagues have summarized as the “science senses.” Starting with critical issues in the contemporary world, from climate change to the social and economic implications of artificial intelligence, the course encourages active learning and inquiry-based instruction. Additionally, she has organized the New York City branch of the City Nature Challenge since 2017. Prior to her current appointment at CUNY, Dr. O’Donnell was a post-doctoral Fellow at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. through the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University.
Daniel Atha is Director of Conservation Outreach at The New York Botanical Garden. At the conference he will present a lecture on Citizen Science and the New York City EcoFlora.
Daniel Atha has conducted botanical field work in all 50 states of the U.S. as well as Vietnam, Bolivia, Mexico, Belize and several states of the former Soviet Union. His work is focused on three areas: floristics—what plants grow in a particular region; taxonomy—how to tell one plant from another, what to call it and what it’s related to; and applied botany—how plants are used for food, medicine, shelter and other useful purposes. In the area of floristics, he has published with colleagues a catalog of the plants of Belize and another of the spontaneous plants of the grounds of The New York Botanical Garden, and he has in press a publication on the flora of Central Park in New York City. He has discovered two new species of knotweed for North America, one of which was found in New York City. More recent efforts have focused on documenting emerging invasive species in New York City, such as the Incised fumewort and the Italian Arum. Another current project at NYBG concerns North American Ash tree species, which are threatened with devastation due to an invasive beetle, the Emerald Ash Borer. He has taught anatomy and systematic botany courses in The New York Botanical Garden’s School of Professional Horticulture and has served as an associate editor of the Garden’s systematic botany journal, Brittonia. Mr. Atha’s main focus on the New York City EcoFlora has been on encouraging citizen scientist engagement with the project, primarily through monthly EcoQuest Challenges and EcoFlora Field Trips.
Susan J. Hewitt
Susan J. Hewitt is a serious amateur malacologist, originally from Britain, but now living in New York City. She will present a lecture at the conference entitled Finding the Wild; a Naturalist’s Adventures in NYC.
Ms. Hewitt, known to some people as “the snail lady” or “the shell lady,” is interested in both marine and non-marine Mollusca. She can identify most of the non-marine and marine mollusks of the British Isles; most marine mollusks of the West Coast of North America; most marine mollusks of the East Coast of the U.S.; the Gulf of Mexico; and the Caribbean Sea. She has taught a college seminar at Yale on mollusks, worked for two years at Harvard’s Louis Agassiz Museum of Comparative Zoology in the mollusk department, and volunteered at the American Museum of Natural History, in the malacology section of Invertebrate Zoology, and the invertebrate section of Paleontology. While Ms. Hewitt’s forté is identifying mollusks, she also have more general natural history knowledge, which she is currently expanding. She is learning the spontaneous vegetation of NYC, and attempting to record the overall biodiversity of Randall’s Island Park in Manhattan. She joined iNaturalist in August 2014, and presently holds the records for most observations made (more than 6,200) and most species observed (more than 700) for the New York City EcoFlora. Globally, Ms. Hewitt is one of the most active in the iNaturalist community, with more than 11,300 observations made of more than 2,900 species, and having made more than 51,600 identifications.