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October 18, 2011 | Jennifer Ramp Neale, Ph.D., Director of Research & Conservation

The changing of the seasons is marked in the Research & Conservation department not only by the fact that the days are getting noticeably shorter, but by the fact that we have all returned indoors for the year. The growing and collecting season has dwindled for our botanists and mycologists, and we are now busy processing and analyzing the fruits of our summer labors.[gallery]

Despite our monitoring season getting off to a rainy start in April with the heavy and frequent rains on the western slope limiting our access to populations found down winding dirt roads, we had a successful year monitoring some of our rarest flora.  This year we continued our annual monitoring of the Colorado hookless cactus (Sclerocactus glaucus), Harrington’s penstemon (Penstemon harringtonii), the skiff milkvetch (Astragalus microcymbus), and Brandegee’s buckwheat (Eriogonum brandegeei).

Through a collaborative project with the Center for Plant Conservation, we targeted seed collection efforts on plants potentially impacted by energy development within Colorado.

Our scouting and collecting efforts paid off with the collection of seed from seven rare species that occur in different regions across the state ranging from the four-corners to north-central Colorado.

Dr. Jan Wingate, Kathryn Kalmbach herbarium associate, spent the summer testing her new key to the genus Carex.  While visiting fens and wetlands across the state, she also collected diatoms for researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  Other herbarium staff wrapped up floristic inventory work for projects started in 2010 and scouted areas for projects to begin in 2012.

For Vera Evenson, curator of the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi, the rainy spring created a busy summer with the woods and urban areas teeming with mushrooms.  In addition to helping identify specimens brought in by the public, she hosted researchers from the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology who were interested in collecting cold adapted fungi along the edge of snow banks.  They had a successful field outing and collected several interesting fungi for our collection.

In addition to the activity mentioned above, we spent hours in the field collecting and documenting pollinators, measuring reproduction of rare plants, documenting diversity of various habitats, and scouting potential habitat for new populations.

Without the hard work and dedication of our field staff: Associate Director and Head Curator Dr. Melissa Islam, Research Associate Michelle DePrenger-Levin, Research Assistant Mary Goshorn, Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium Associate Dr. Jan Wingate, Kathryn Kalmbach Curatorial Assistant Pam Regengsberg, Curator of the Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi Vera Evenson, Research Intern Eliot Jackson, and countless volunteers, we would never have had such a great year.

Now we begin sorting, cataloging, accessioning, and analyzing all that data we collected….


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