Seed Biologist, MBG
• Plant conservation
• Restoration ecology
• GIS and remote sensing
Project: Seed Banking Native Missouri Plants for Conservation. Seed Banks are an increasingly important component of the international efforts to preserve plant biodiversity. By storing seeds we are able to preserve a large quantity of inter- and intra-specific genetic diversity within a relatively small space, for a relatively long span of time. In the future, if species are imperiled due to habitat loss or climate change, these stored genetic resources will be available for restoration and conservation purposes. In 2013 MBG will be launching a new Seed Bank. MBG’s germplasm conservation program has two simultaneous goals: (1) to place all wild-collected seed held by various divisions across the institution into long-term storage to preserve seed viability; (2) to collect and store seeds from multiple representative populations of the entire native Missouri flora, in order to protect these species from future habitat loss or climate change. There are opportunities for an interested student to participate in several different aspects of the research associated with the seed bank, including fieldwork for collecting seeds, germination studies and GIS analyses. The student will also be exposed to proper techniques for seed collection and cleaning, preparing herbarium specimens and maintaining proper field notes. Two main research foci are:
1) Selection and prioritization of native species and sampling locations. Utilizing a combination of natural history data, species range, phenology and life history information, and institutional priorities for ecosystem and habitats, we will be creating and implementing a decision matrix to prioritize species and sites for collections. This work involves GIS, spreadsheets and gathering information from large online databases (such MBG’s TROPICOS and the Natureserve website).
2) Establishing seed storage behavior information for native MO flora. While there is a general consensus on the appropriate storage conditions for the broad categories of seed types, there is very little documentation of the seed storage behavior of individual species, or how storage behavior might vary across species or populations, particularly of rare species. In order to ensure that we are providing adequate conditions to preserve the genetic material over the long-term we will be conducting research on the storage behavior of many unique MO taxa. Specifically we will be asking how different treatments of drying and cold storage affect seed germination and viability.
Some general information on seed banks:
Saving seeds in the bank for future use
Seed Conservation: Turning Science into Practice