2016 Mentors and Projects
Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany

Robbie Hart

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Robbie Hart

Assistant Curator High Elevation Ethnobotany and GLORIA
William L. Brown Center

Climate Change and Plant Phenology. Robbie Hart is a research specialist in the William L. Brown Center who studies ethnobotany and the effects of climate change on plant communities, especially in the Himalayan region. Shifts in the seasonal timing of life history events (phenology) are among the first and most important responses of plants to climate change, with possible impacts ranging from changes to reproductive success to effects on population persistence, species boundaries, and ecosystem services. Long-term records are important in understanding the long-term effects of climate change, but such data sources are limited. This project utilizes historical St. Louis temperature and plant phenology data gathered by Missouri Botanical Garden researchers in the 1890s. A participating student will help to design complementary phenological monitoring of plants in extant or comparable living collections, participate in phenological monitoring, and analyze and interpret a subset of existing phenological and temperature data to draw conclusions about climate-driven changes in phenology across the last 120 years. The student will work with Garden staff in the research, archives and plant records departments and gain experience in resolution of historical botanical nomenclature using TROPICOS, in ecological methodologies for phenological monitoring, and in the analysis of temperature and phenology data using the R statistical framework.



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