Plant Research and Conservation at The New York Botanical Garden: News and Media
Scienceline Podcast: Botanical Conservation and Linguistic Preservation in Vanuatu
In the far reaches of the South Pacific lies the country of Vanuatu, a small cluster of islands about 1,600 miles east of Australia. This hard-to-reach archipelago covers an area smaller than Hawaii. Despite the country’s minute size, its islands are immensely diverse.
Vanuatu has one of the highest language densities in the world (112 to be precise) and its forests are teeming with a rich array of local plant life. The country’s plant diversity has never been fully recorded, however, and the country’s rapid industrialization is putting local plant knowledge at risk. So, for the past five years, a team of researchers led by the New York Botanical Garden has been working on a project to document the country’s plants, their names in local dialects and their indigenous uses. The researchers are finding that Vanuatu’s plant diversity and language diversity are intricately linked. In this podcast, I speak to Gregory Plunkett, a researcher from the New York Botanical Garden who is one of the project’s leaders, and Frazer Alo, a forestry student from Vanuatu who has been helping with their field work.
Podcast: The New York Botanical Garden: Creating a Living Museum
In Episode #23 of his podcast, Thomas Fraser talks with Dr. Brian Boom, vice president for conservation strategy at The New York Botanical Garden, about the history of the garden, conservation, creating a living museum and the value of long-term strategic plans.
While many organizations are managed with a particular focus on the next calendar quarter’s results, the time frame for planning at the New York Botanical Garden is a bit different. “The next quarter for us really means the next quarter century,” Boom says. “Long-term planning is the key to our success.”
Article in Nature: Gymosperms on the EDGE
Driven by limited resources and a sense of urgency, the prioritization of species for conservation has been a persistent concern in conservation science. Gymnosperms (comprising ginkgo, conifers, cycads, and gnetophytes) are one of the most threatened groups of living organisms.
The authors of this article, including NYBG scientists Drs. Dennis Stevenson and Damon Little, use the Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) method to rank gymnosperm species based on their evolutionary distinctiveness and the extinction risks they face. While this method has been used to to study birds, amphibians, and mammals, this is the first such analysis done on plants, and the results highlight the necessity of using approaches that integrate evolutionary information in conservation science.
Island Life Magazine: Plants as Calendars
The July 6, 2018, issue of Island Life Magazine features the work of NYBG researchers Drs. Michael Balick and Gregory Plunkett. The article examines the importance of calendar plants, whose flowering or fruiting provide an indication of the change of seasons and cues for certain activities, such as gardening, hunting, and fishing.
Martha Stewart: Healing Plants You Should Surround Yourself With
Imagine a location with a built-in natural apothecary that has healing potions, healthy CO2 balanced air, and energy that is blooming with so much positivity you can actually feel it. Welcome to your home with healing plants. Adding plants can transform your abode from just a place to lay your head to a certified zen den for all things self-care.
The author turns to NYBG’s Dr. Michael Balick to get the lowdown on the best plants with healing benefits.
Popular Science: Mushrooms Might Save the World--If They Don't Kill Us First
Dr. Roy Halling is NYBG’s mushroom man. As curator of mycology, he splits his time between the lab and the field. On a tour of the Bronx-based herbarium, which houses almost 8 million specimens, Halling told PopSci about the kingdom’s incredible capacity for rot.
CNN en Español: Wild Medicine in the Tropics
“El poder curativo de las plantas” es parte de una exhibición que por estos días está realizando el Jardín Botánico de Nueva York. La encargada de hacer la selección, Dra. Ina Vandebroek, es una experta que se ha dedicado a estudiar el uso medicinal de las plantas en países tropicales. CNN en Español visitó la exhibición y nos tiene el informe.
WABC-TV Eyewtiness News features Wild Medicine in the Tropics
Eyewitness News reminds us that some of the most effective medicines come from nature. The story features Wild Medicine in the Tropics, an NYBG exhibit with nearly two dozen plants and trees along with information about how they are used to cure ailments.
NYBG Botanist Dr. Michael Balick Awarded Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration
NYBG Ethnobotanist Dr. Michael Balick has been named the 2018 recipient of the David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration. The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) recognized Dr. Balick for a career spanning over four decades of botanical fieldwork and research around the globe.
MSU Spartan Newsroom: Old Specimen Provides New Insight into Invasive Algae
Through a combination of old and new technologies, researchers at The New York Botanical Garden have come closer to pinpointing the time and place of the first arrival of the Starry Stonewort, an invasive green alga that is spreading throughout the northeast and upper Midwest.
Ensia: Seeking Answers on Climate Change, Scientists Venture into the Vaults of the Past
This article on the environmental news web site, Ensia, details uses of natural history collections in climate change research. According to Dr. Barbara M. Thiers, Director of the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium, historical information on changes in plant distributions is obtainable only from herbarium specimens.
National Geographic Food: On Tiny Island Farms, Biodiversity Is a Way of Life
This story appeared in the December, 2017, issue of the new British magazine, National Geographic Food. The article highlights the research of NYBG Ethnobotanist Dr. Ina Vandebroek in Jamaica, where she studies agricultural practices and crop diversity.
Dr. Vandebroek observed that farmers grow large numbers of crops on the same plots, and they also observed that crop plants are grown amid wild trees and shrubs that help stabilize nutrient rich soil. Jamaican farmers know that maintaining high levels of agrobiodiversity (larger numbers of crops intermingled with wild species) increases food security and helps to protect the island’s forests. The researchers highlight important lessons on food security as the world’s cultivated land is increasingly dedicated to a smaller and smaller number of staple crops.
The American Gardner: The Role of Herbaria in New Discoveries
Much more than collections of dead plants and fungi, herbaria are irreplacable repositories of historical plant information vital to a wide variety of scientific applications. Featuring the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium and the recent exhibition What in the World is a Herbarium?
NY1 Visits The New York Botanical Garden's Plant Science Research Laboratory
NY1 goes inside the Pfizer Plant Research Laboratory—a part of the garden that most people do not get to see.
NYBG Scientists Help Produce the First Comprehensive Catalog of Amazonian Plants
Representing a major advance in understanding and conserving the plant life of one of the world’s greatest biodiversity hotspots, an international team of scientists—including four NYBG researchers—has created the first scientifically vetted list of known plant species in the Amazon Basin.
In Defense of Plants Podcast: Plant Conservation in the Modern Era
When it comes to conservation, plants have largely been overlooked. 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 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. This podcast features a conversation with Dr. Brian Boom, NYBG’s VP for Conservation Strategy, about Plant Conservation in the modern world.
Press Release: The Garden's New York City EcoFlora Project
In order to help protect New York City’s plant biodiversity and improve the public’s environmental literacy, NYBG has launched an ambitious initiative to create a one-stop, online database about the city’s ca. 2,000 naturally occurring plant species and their ecological roles.
Science Talk Blog
From the field to the lab, NYBG’s scientists aren’t just about white coats and microscopes—they’re adventurous and determined globe-trotters who live to discover, understand, and preserve Earth’s biodiversity. The Science Talk blog exposes the far-reaching work of the Garden’s botanical specialists.