The Negaunee Institute places much value on engaging scientists, practitioners, and community members in taking action to address and work toward solutions for the many threats that we see. Community Science efforts include Budburst and Plants of Concern, which engage non-scientists to make observations and collect important data that are needed to document things like flowering time, populations of plant species that are under threat, etc. Seed banking is essential for building a collection of seeds of native plant species that can be used in restoration projects and in research. Our advocacy efforts are focused on making sure that governmental agencies, elected officials, and other decision makers are aware of the threats to plants and native habitats.
The Synthesis Center for Conservation and Restoration brings diverse perspectives together to enable analysis, synthesis, and collaboration aimed at addressing key needs in plant conservation and restoration science, practice, and policy. We are located in the Negaunee Institute for Plant Conservation Science and Action at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The Garden is headquarters for Budburst, which engages volunteers in all 50 states to track climate change impacts on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants. Plants of Concern, the Garden’s model community science program, engages volunteers in tracking different plant species at locations in the Chicago region.
Although the Chicago region is highly urbanized, it contains remnant natural areas that support rare species. Land managers use rare species data in management planning, but they are often unable to collect this data on a scale at which it is needed. Plants of Concern (POC) was founded in 2000 to address this need. Regional assessments and local analyses that can provide feedback about the status of rare species are critically needed.
The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank continues to collect and preserve germplasm of native plant species from the Midwest. The seed bank contains more than 4,000 accessions, representing more than 1,700 species. In partnership with the Center for Plant Conservation, we are banking 11 of the rarest species in the Upper Midwest region, including plants such as pitcher's thistle, eastern prairie white fringed orchid, and mead's milkweed.
We are currently receiving collections from two new areas of the Midwest: Ohio and Arkansas. And we continue to be an active partner in the national Seeds of Success (SOS) program. Seeds of Success, led by the Bureau of Land Management, serves to record, preserve, and safeguard important flora for restoration and conservation science activities within the United States. In addition to long-term conservation storage, SOS collections are available for research, restoration, and rehabilitation.
Plants are not optional, and science alone won’t save a species. Working in partnership with the Plant Conservation Alliance Non-Federal Cooperator Committee, we advocate for plants and their conservation at all levels of government. One of our activities has been developing and promoting the Botany Bill.