Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development


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


In January we welcomed Shannon Skarha, a new member of our Conservation Genetics lab. Shannon is thrilled to be working with us as Lab Specialist. She will be studying genetic diversity and fecundity of Mead’s milkweed, an endangered species of Missouri.

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.