BEAT: Conserving Flowers and their Pollinators
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joan Edwards will speak at the May Pittsfield Green Drinks event on Tuesday, May 17th at 6:00 PM and give a slideshow presentation about the rapidly decreasing biodiversity that is taking place globally, known as the sixth extinction.
She will specifically focus on flowers and their insect visitors.
This sixth extinction is primarily driven by human actions, from habitat loss to climate change. The impacts of biodiversity loss are far-reaching, resulting in biological communities that are less resilient and with diminished ecosystems services. As part of the discussion, Joan will explore the impact of biodiversity loss in the pollinator-flower world and examine how the surprising dynamics of flower-pollinator networks can help to conserve both flowers and their pollinators.
Joan Edwards is a botanist interested in understanding the biomechanics and adaptive significance of ultra-fast plant movements—plant actions that are so quick they occur in milliseconds. Using high-speed video (up to 100,000 fps), she studies the evolutionary significance and biomechanics of fast movements, including the trebuchet catapults of bunchberry dogwood, the vortex rings of Sphagnum moss, the splash cups of liverworts, and the "poppers" of wood sorrel. Her early fieldwork was on the impact of moose on plants in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park.
She continues to research plant-animal interactions from herbivory to pollination. Her current studies on pollination focus on the evolution and conservation of flowers and their pollinators, which is critical to understand in the face of global pollinator decline and loss of species worldwide.
Joan Edwards is a Professor of Biology at Williams College, where she has been a faculty member since 1979. At Williams, she teaches courses in Ecology, Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Environmental Studies. She completed her Ph.D. in Botany at the University of Michigan, where she also did her undergraduate studies. She is the Samuel Fessenden Clarke Professor of Biology and a faculty member in the Environmental Studies Program at Williams.
Pittsfield Green Drinks is an informal gathering on the third Tuesday of the month. These nights are free and open to everyone with any environmental interest.