Conserving Threatened Orchids: The Flower-Fungus Connection
Speaker: Dr. Melissa McCormick (SERC)
Watch here or download pdf of presentation
Roughly 10 percent of the world’s plant species are orchids. This huge family has long fascinated scientists and been prized by collectors for its strange and often showy flowers. However, orchids are often among the first casualties from environmental degradation. Of North America’s approximately 220 orchid species, 1 in 4 are globally threatened and nearly all are threatened at the state or federal level. Past conservation efforts have had very little success. Orchids’ dependence on pollinators and mycorrhizal fungi leaves them vulnerable to habitat change, making conservation and restoration efforts especially challenging. The North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC), based at SERC, was founded to help conserve native orchids using research on orchid-fungi relationships and populations. In this lecture, Melissa McCormick will show how SERC research has identified critical points in orchid life cycles that can be altered to increase orchid populations. The SERC team is seeking to test how managers could use these techniques to improve orchid conservation. NAOCC is also developing seed and fungus collections so these techniques can be applied to orchids across the country.
SERC's free evening lectures are held every third Tuesday of the month now through October in the Schmidt Conference Center, from 7-8pm. Doors open at 6:30. Lectures are free and open to all—curiosity is the only prerequisite!