Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development


 To safeguard Earth’s biodiversity through the collaborative development and
wise application of scientific expertise and resources



Our REU students at the poster session: Kelly Showalter (Mentor: Matthew Albrecht), David Bellangue (Mentor: Christy Edwards) Ben O'Hallaron (Mentor: Ivan Jimenez), Renee Klann (Mentor: Adam Smith).

In May, we welcomed our new post doc, Kelley Erickson, graduate of the University of Miami (Florida).  She’s working to develop new statistical techniques for modeling species’ responses to climate change using data from herbaria that is normally unusable due to bad georeferencing or lack of collection date.  A more complete description of the project can be found at the top of this page:

Brigette Williams, a second year Saint Louis University PhD student in the Conservation Genetics Lab and the 2016 Needleman Fellow, has been awarded two grants this spring. In March, the Torrey Botanical Society awarded her the First Prize Graduate Student Research Fellowship in the amount of $2,500 for her proposal titled, "Conservation epigenetics and phenotypic plasticity in the geographically restricted genus, Leavenworthia." Then, in April, Brigette was awarded an Endowment Research Grant for $1,500 from the Florida Native Plant Society for her proposal titled, "Conservation epigenetics in the highly endangered 'Florida ziziphus' (Ziziphus celata, Rhamnaceae) located at Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida."

Brigette has received a total of $20,989 in research grant funding since beginning her PhD in August 2016. She is co-advised by Dr. Christine Edwards at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Dr. Allison Miller at Saint Louis University.

New publications from our scientists

Dr. Christy Edwards and Dr. Burgund Bassuner from our Conservation Genetics lab, along with seven other scientists from the Garden, published a paper about the rediscovery of a presumed-extinct species (Dracaena umbraculifera) from Madagascar in Oryx.
The article was featured on NPR by Eli Chen and the press release was featured in many science news outlets. In a time when many species are becoming increasingly more threatened with extinction, the rediscovery of a species thought to be extinct is very unusual. This study demonstrates how genetic analysis of living collections in botanical gardens may be a source for new discoveries, as well as the importance of continued efforts to document the biodiversity present in Madagascar.

Joyce Maschinski from the Center for Plant Conservation and Matthew Albrecht published a very interesting and useful paper for plant conservationists about best practice guidelines for reintroduction of rare practice in the online journal Plant Diversity. Learn more.

Adam Smith
and his collaborators from SIU Carbondale and Kansas State University published an article about the effects of climate change on the stature of a dominant prairie grass in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology. Read more. The authors have been getting good press about the article (The Manhattan Mercury, Topeka Capital Journal). The paper was also was featured on NPR by science reporter Eli Chen (St. Louis KWMU, Kansas City's KCUR) and covered on TV by Wichita's KWCH12.

Grand from National Geographic

Ivan Jimenez received a grant from National Geographic to support a study of how species of Espeletia, a genus endemic to the northern Andes, respond to global change. An interesting aspect of this project is that it uses anthropogenic impacts to the conservation of high elevation environments. Ivan and his collaborators, César A. Marín, from Jardín Botánico de Bogotá José Celestino Mutis and Carlos Arturo Lora, from Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia will use satellite data and field observations to conduct the study.

Grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC)

CCSD’s conservation genetics lab got funding approved for a new project with the title
“The effect of genetic diversity on fecundity in Mead’s milkweed (Asclepias meadii)”.
Christy Edwards and Matthew Albrecht are leading the project in collaboration with the Mead’s milkweed recovery team including MDC Resource Science Division, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), Missouri Department of Natural Resources, United States Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Missouri Prairie Foundation, Kansas Biological Survey, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Natural History Survey, and other agency biologists that manage Mead’s milkweed populations. A technician will be hired at the beginning of 2018 to manage the elaborative field work and genetic analysis of the plants.