Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Dr. Matthew Albrecht

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Dr. Matthew Albrecht

Assistant Curator of Conservation Biology

Research Interests

• Conservation Biology
• Restoration Ecology

Web Pages:  MBG, Center for Plant Conservation

Project: Regeneration niche of Ozark chinquapin (Castanea ozarkensis) in native Ozark forests. Ozark chinquapin (Castanea ozarkensis) was once a socially and ecologically important native tree species to the Ozark Mountains in Missouri and Arkansas. Like its cousin, the American chestnut (Castanea dentata), Ozark chinquapin is susceptible to the chestnut blight and has experienced dramatic declines and local extirpation throughout its range. Efforts are underway to conserve remaining Ozark chinquapin trees that show blight-resistance by hybridizing trees with blight-resistant American/Chinese Chestnut hybrids and then backcrossing those seedlings with native Ozark chinquapin trees to maintain both the species characters and blight-resistance. Once backcrossed resistant hybrids are developed (estimated to take 20-30 years), the species can then be reintroduced to Ozark forests. Because Ozark forests have changed dramatically since the introduction of the blight in the 1950’s and little is known about the ecology of the species, it’s unclear how Ozark chinquapin can be successful reintroduced and recolonize contemporary forests. In this study, the REU student will conduct a field experiment at the Shaw Nature Reserve (SNR) to examine how tree canopy gaps, leaf litter, and herbivores influence Ozark chinquapin seed emergence and survival. The student will plant Ozark chinquapin seeds in upland forests, monitor their emergence and survivorship in different treatments, and collect environmental data (light and soil parameters). Results from this study will provide important information on how to restore this rare native tree when blight-resistant seed becomes widely available.


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