Seventh Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium

Date: Saturday, February 2, 2019

Time: 10:00AM - 4:00PM

Instructor: Dr. Gretchen Daily (Keynote)

Location: Santa Barbara County Education Office

Space still available.  Please register at the door.

The Annual Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Conservation Symposium, established in 2012, is designed to address topics that are critical to environmental conservation in our region, as well as nationally and internationally. The keynote speaker is the winner of that year's Pritzlaff Conservation Award, which is given to a global trailblazer in conservation.

Registration fees include lunch.

Trailblazing Women in Conservation

image of Dr. Gretchen DailyKeynote Speaker and John C. Pritzlaff Conservation Awardee:
Dr. Gretchen Daily, Stanford University

"Creating an Ecological Civilization"
Growing up in West Germany in the 70s and 80s was the perfect place to fall in love with science. I was lucky, with fabulous biology and chemistry teachers. There were serious problems to work on, and they helped me with projects on river pollution and acid rain. And there was a sense of possibility – huge demonstrations in the streets over environmental destruction that helped birth the green movement. Then eventually the wall came down! These experiences became core to my outlook and approach. Most central is the joy and power in working together – pursuing goals much greater than one could hope to achieve alone. In 2005, I co-founded the Natural Capital Project, a global partnership designed to help reveal the intimate connections between people and nature, and to drive a revolution in valuing nature in real-world decisions. Compelling cases are emerging all over the world – investing in nature for coastal resilience, mental health, water security, livable cities, and much more. Together we are reaching for an ecological civilization.


Image of Dr. Joyce MaschinskiDr. Joyce Maschinski, Center for Plant Conservation

"Curiosity, Collaborations, & Contrails for Conservation"
Like many people, in my early life I didn't realize there were endangered plants in the U.S., much less in my neighborhood. I expected an academic career in my future, when a U.S. Forest Service botanist hired me to evaluate the impact of timber harvest on Arizona leatherflower. Using my scientific skills as a plant ecologist, I discovered that I could actually help protect this rare plant species. It was this realization that changed my career direction and ultimately led to varied, interesting, and successful conservation of many rare plants across the nation. Solving the puzzles of rare plant population decline often required tools or methods outside of my personal experience, motivating me to seek collaborations with scientists or members of the public. These collaborations benefited the rare plants and in turn, steered my career in new directions. Highlighting examples from collaborative reintroduction experiments conducted to expand populations of rare plant species, I will show how these culminated in the CPC Best Plant Conservation Practices Supporting Species Survival in the Wild, a web-based resource for plant conservationists around the world.


Image of Dr. Heather SchneiderDr. Heather Schneider, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

"Conservation from the Ground up: From Seed Banks to Communities and Back Again"
As a graduate student, people told me that my research should tell a story...preferably, a linear story. That never sat well with me. Every ecologist knows that patterns and processes in nature are rarely linear and it's that complexity that makes life so interesting. I decided to embrace the complexity. Choosing to do work that I find interesting and meaningful has allowed me to engage with a range of topics including: plant community dynamics and the effects of invasive species; the impacts of anthropogenic nitrogen deposition; desert tortoise health and behavior; the evolutionary trajectories of floral and life history traits; and creating a research seed bank for future biologists. Seed banks have been a touchstone for me along the way, reminding me to consider the future while operating in the present. In my current iteration, I have the honor of working to understand, protect, restore and advocate for California's rare plants. Many of my guides on this science journey have been women, which I count as a rare and special privilege. In this talk, I will share a snapshot of the people, places, and projects that have led me to where I am today and hope to inspire others to embrace life's zigzags.


Image of Dr. Carla D'AntonioDr. Carla D'Antonio, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Blazing a Path through the Weeds Towards the Intersection of Conservation and Invasion Biology"
For many years I did not think twice about where the plants around me came from or whether they were changing the environment. But slowly I began to notice changes in the communities around me and ask questions about individual species and their influences on the functioning of the environments I had grown to value. This led me to my dissertation research on a South African ice plant species: what controlled where it became a dominant invader, and its effects on California coastal environments. I moved on to a lifetime of research on invasive grasses and their roles in changing fire regimes, and interrupting woody plant recovery. While some people feel that invasive plants are here to stay and we should 'learn to love 'em', studying them has helped me to look inside myself and ask why I care and what the best science is that I can provide to land managers or restoration practitioners who want to preserve and promote the fabulous diversity of species that inhabit California. This choice of study area has linked me deeply to the land management community, challenged me to articulate values and goals, and to do my best to connect students to the natural world so that they can take responsibility for its future.


Image of Dr. Pamela SoltisDr. Pamela Soltis, University of Florida

"Herbarium Specimens in Plant Conservation: Repurposing the Past to Save the Future"
For centuries, herbarium specimens have played a major role in plant biology, documenting the abundance and distribution of plant species. Today, digitization of these specimens has produced global databases of species occurrences and images, providing a new resource for conservation. Occurrence data are being used to model species distributions and project future ranges of rare species, and this information serves as a powerful new tool in conservation and management. Having worked in or around herbaria since graduate school, I am excited to explore and develop new uses for these invaluable resources, particularly if these efforts will aid conservation of rare plants and their ecosystems. I will illustrate new approaches to plant conservation using data from herbarium specimens, some of which date back a century or more, with emphasis on the flora of Florida and the southeastern USA.


Dr. Katharine SudingDr. Katharine Suding, University of Colorado

"Expanding the Portfolio: Conservation in a Changing World"
One of the amazing things about biodiversity – and one the of things that got me hooked on studying ecology in the first place – is the multiple ways species persist together in nature. It is this portfolio of biodiversity that I have worked to restore in many degraded environments. Tackling how we might put the pieces of a system back to aid recovery has provided great opportunities to tie together basic and applied science. It has also pushed me to consider how unprecedented rates of social and environmental change might necessitate a fundamental shift in our very notion of recovery. I have come to appreciate – like the portfolio of biodiversity – the importance of diverse investments across a range of intervention approaches. This “hopeful portfolio of partial solutions” goes hand in hand with more traditional approaches for the conservation of nature’s masterpieces.