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The ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves,The Cleveland Museum of Natural History,The Nature Conservancy — Ohio ChapterOhio State University Herbarium
March 27, 2015,Villa Milano Banquet and Conference Center8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Download Symposium Brochure [pdf 318Kb]
Dr. Robbin Moran is Curator of Ferns and Lycophytes at The New York Botanical Garden. He has published over 100 scientific papers and four books on ferns. His general interest book, A Natural History of Ferns, won the Garden Writers Association Award for best writing. Each year Robbin teaches a course on ferns and lycophytes at the Eagle Hill Biological Station in coastal Maine, and a graduate-level course, Tropical Plant Systematics, for the Organization of Tropical Studies in Costa Rica.
Ohio harbors many well known species of ferns, but what is less known about them is their astonishing biology. For instance, the bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum) poisons organisms that eat it, including people, in several diabolical ways. The mosquito fern (Azolla) floats on water and, although the world’s smallest fern, has the largest economic importance of any fern because of its use as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer in many tropical regions of the world. When dry, the leaves of the resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) curl into rough C- and J-shapes and appear dead. Yet after a soaking rain these leaves spring back to life (resurrect) within hours, expanding their blades and resuming photosynthesis. The rapid rehydration is made possible by water-absorbing scales on the undersides of the leaves. Highly unusual are two Ohio ferns that lack a spore-bearing phase; they never produce a “normal” plant with roots, stems, and leaves. Instead, they exist only in the minute gamete-producing phase (gametophytes) and reproduce asexually by means of minute buds. Even more strange is that they belong to primarily tropical genera. These and other unusual Ohio ferns will be highlighted in the talk.
Cynthia Morton is the curator of botany at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. As a botanist, Dr. Morton has worked locally and internationally to collect specimens for phylogenetic analysis of molecular and morphological data. The range of projects include angiosperm phylogenetics, redefining the citrus family, constructing genomic maps, investigating park and nursery tree genetics, and cleaning ground water. Morton's research has been features in newspapers, videos, and has been published in peer-reviewed scientific articles.