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2005 MBC News Archive



Resident 9-foot American crocodile (Crocodylus
acutus) lounging by Nypa Lake earlier this year

December 2005

Florida 2005 Palm and Cycad Expeditions

Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) is renowned for its quality wild-collected population samples of palms and cycads from all over the world, but, surprisingly, the Florida native palms and one native cycad are markedly under-represented in MBCs collections. In an attempt to rectify this situation, two expeditions set out from MBC to collect from Florida native palm and cycad populations (November 6th to November 17th for the former, and November 28th to December 10th for the latter). Each expedition was bent on bringing back research quality, wild-collected, population-based material from throughout Florida to be planted in the garden.
Dr. Larry Noblick, MBC palm biologist (above), and Harvey Bernstein (former MBC imaging specialist), collected palm material in the first phase. MBC staff focused on Zamia material for the second phase. Although the 2005 hurricane season greatly altered what was available advancing fruiting in some areas and pre-empting it in othersboth expeditions were successful in bringing back seeds, plants, and herbarium specimens to start MBCs Florida Conservation Collection.

November 22, 2005

Dr. James Mauseth, Professor of Botany at UT Austin

Montgomery Botanical Center recently hosted Dr. James Mauseth, professor of botany at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Mauseth came to study palm anatomy and morphology, and to acquire palm trunk specimens for students of his plant anatomy courses. He presented a seminar, Cactus Adaptations to Deserts Are More Exotic Than You Think, on Friday, November 18th.

Dr. Mauseth is a leading plant anatomist, and author of two widely-used undergraduate and graduate textbooks, as well as other books and numerous articles. His input and discussions with MBCs executive director regarding collections-based natural history research have been very productive.

October 24, 2005

Hurricane Wilma Strikes South Florida (Click here for photos)

Once again, we sustained major damage to our plants collections from yet another hurricane. As of November 1st, power was restored to part of the property and damage assessments and recovery efforts were underway. Additional information and photos will be posted once the damage assessments are completed.

October 2, 2005

MBCs Cycad Biologist Returns from Successful Panama Expedition

In September of this year, MBC conducted a second successful cycad expedition to Panama in as many years, thanks to the generosity of a private donor. This years expedition was again conducted in collaboration with Dr. Alberto Taylor, cycad researcher at the University of Panama. Intended to answer questions regarding the groove-leafed cycads of the Bocas del Toro region of northwestern Panama, the 2005 expedition actually generated many more questions than answers. Additional work will be needed to sort out this convoluted and controversial species complex and Montgomery Botanical Center looks forward to continued collaborative work in the region.

September 29, 2005

Guyana 2005 Expedition, Adelaide Botanic Gardens

MBC hosted a group of nine travelers from Adelaide Botanic Gardens in South Australia, Including Steven Forbes (Director). This group was passing through Miami on its way to Guyana, to revisit the routes of Richard Schomburgks expeditions there from 1841 to 1844. The 2005 expedition is part of ABGs 150th anniversary commemoration.

While at MBC, the Adelaide group toured the property and collections, and discussed MBCs collecting methods, plant records strategy, landscape design principles, and collections usage by scientists and other researchers. The MBC staff was very happy to again interact with colleagues from Australia.

August 29, 2005

Cliff Sawtell, Senior Horticulturalist at Adelaide Botanic Gardens

MBC hosted Cliff Sawtell the last week of August. Cliff is responsible for the Economic Collections at Adelaide Botanic Gardens (ABG) in Adelaide, Australia, which includes many palm and cycad species. Mr. Sawtell was awarded a scholarship by the Friends of the ABG to spend time at a number of botanical institutions in Miami learning about horticultural and collections management methods. On Monday afternoon, August 29th, Cliff presented a lecture titled A Pictorial Tour of the Adelaide Botanic Garden featuring Palmae, in the Nixon Smiley Meeting Room, providing a welcome break from MBCs Hurricane Katrina recovery activities.

August 26, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Recovery at MBC (Click here for photos)

Hurricane Katrina arrived at MBC late in the evening of Thursday, August 25th. A significant number of MBCs Palm Collections were affected, as well as a smaller number of our Cycad Collections. Additionally, many of our hardwood trees were felled. Damage assessments of the plant collections took three full days and were completed on August 31st. Click the link above for more information and photos of some of the damage and our cleanup efforts.

July 21, 2005

Jeremy Stalker, Ph.D. Student in Geology at FIU

Jeremy is investigating the waters that contribute to Biscayne Bay as part of his doctoral studies at Florida International University; he has been collecting data from wells at MBC and aquifers underneath. On Thursday the July 21st at 2:30 p.m., Jeremy discussed his findings to date in a seminar held in the Nixon Smiley Meeting Room. We were glad to receive expert information on our underground water. Primarily focused on scientific plant collections, MBC also encourages use of its site for other important scientific purposes.

July 11, 2005

Dr. John Dowe, Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow

For two weeks in July, MBC hosted Dr. John Dowe, botanist with the Australian Center for Tropical Freshwater Research at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. John is an expert on Livistona, and has done extensive research on systematics and ecology of the palm family.

While here, John presented  two seminars based on his research: “Systematics and Taxonomy of Livistona (Arecaceae)” and “Livistona Species in Coastal Habitats of Eastern Australia: Are They Adapted to Cyclones?”

July 6, 2005

Dr. William Hahn, Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow

From July 5th through July 10th, MBC hosted Dr. William Hahn, associate dean and associate research professor of biology at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Bill, a longtime contributor of specimens to MBC, is doing research on palms of the tribe Cocoseae.

During his stay at MBC, Bill presented two seminars: “Comparative Molecular Phylogenetics of Palms” and “Perspectives on the Conservation of Palms”. Bill has also done extensive research into the relationships and systematics of the palm family and is a very active worker for palm conservation.

July 1, 2005

MBC Receives National Award for Montgomery News

Montgomery Botanical Center was honored with the Dorothy E. Hansell Award at the 2005 American Association of Botanic Gardens and Arboreta Meeting in Chicago for its newsletter, The Montgomery News. The Hansell award recognizes the accomplishments of gardens with respect to effective communication and focuses on a different type of communication each year. The competition category for 2005 was  “newsletter.”

The Montgomery News is published twice a year and seeks to inform the public about ongoing collecting, conservation, landscaping, and research efforts at MBC. Montgomery acknowledges the dedicated work of former development and communications manager, Mary Andrews, in achieving this honor.

June 6, 2005

MBC Presents Paper at FSHS Conference

MBC was represented at the Florida State Horticultural Society Conference in Tampa from June 6-7. MBC Staff presented a paper titled  “Effects of a Parasitic Wasp (Coccobius fulvus) on Cycad Aulacaspis Scale (Aulacaspis yasumatsui) at Montgomery Botanical Center, Florida.”

study was completed with Dr. Divina Amalin and Roger Coe of the USDA. MBC shared the newest information on scale control with Florida nursery professionals and horticultural extension agents at this year’s conference and returned with much new information to share, as well.

June 6, 2005

Dylan Hannon, Plant Explorer

Dylan Hannon, curator of tropical plants and conservatory collections at Huntington Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California, visited MBC from June 4-7 to collect plant propagation material for inclusion in the Huntingtons newly constructed Rose Hills Foundation Conservatory for Botanical Science.

Dylan is a veteran plant explorer; highlights among his extensive botanical travels include Mexico and Ecuador. Recently, Dylan has made two expeditions to the arid tropical island of Socotra, off the coast of Somalia. Dylan presented images and accounts of his botanical studies on Socotra in a seminar titled A Natural History of Socotra in the Nixon Smiley Meeting Room at Montgomery Botanical Center.

May 23, 2005

Dr. Mark Bonta, Montgomery Botanical Research Fellow

From May 23 to May 27, MBC hosted Dr. Mark Bonta, assistant professor of geography at Delta State University in Mississippi, to do research on the interfaces between cycads and human cultures. While here, Mark gave a lecture on The Human Geography of Cycads in the Nixon Smiley Meeting Room. Mark is an avid researcher of conservation, political, and cultural issues, with a focus on Latin American studies.

After spending a decade afield in Honduras beginning with a Peace Corps assignment, Mark has published a number of books, including Seven Names for the Bellbird: Conservation Geography in Honduras (Texas A&M Press, 2003).

April 20, 2005

Dr. M. Patrick Griffith Joins MBC as Executive Director

Dr. M. Patrick Griffith was selected by MBC as its new executive director. Patrick has a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University and Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, an M.S. degree in biology from Sul Ross State University, and a B.A. in botany from the University of Texas at Austin. Patrick is the author or co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles and other publications, and has received a number of grants and awards for his work in plant evolution and systematics.

Patrick will join MBC in May 2005. Under his leadership, Montgomery will continue to expand its scientific collections of tropical plants (emphasizing palms and cycads) in its botanical garden, further exemplify outstanding landscape design, and will continue to make its plant collections and related scientific data available to scientists and botanical institutions around the world.

January 18, 2005

MBC Staff Present Research at International Cycad Conference

MBC was represented at the 7th International Conference on Cycad Biology (CYCAD 2005) in Xalapa, Mexico. This conference occurs every three years and is an extraordinary opportunity for cycad scientists and enthusiasts to share information and their enjoyment of cycads.

MBC staff presented two papers, titled “Redescription of Dioon mejiae: Toward a Taxonomic Description Standard,” and “Managing Cycad Aulacaspis Scale, Aulacaspis yasumatsui, at Montgomery Botanical Center.” MBC also co-chaired a workshop on promoting cycad conservation in Honduras. Two posters were presented, entitled “The Tree Dioons” and “Key to the Species of Dioon” (co-authored by Tim Gregory and Jeff Chemnick). 

 Click here for a complete summary of MBC’s participation in CYCAD 2005.


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