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MOBOT to study the effects of climate change on Midwest plants

(Casey Galvin/Center for Plant Conservation)
Ouachita Mountain goldenrod (Solidago ouachitensis), a rare species native to Arkansas and Oklahoma.

By Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, MO – The Missouri Botanical Garden is investigating how plants in the Midwest could respond to climate change.

The research will be funded by a $300,000 grant to the Garden from the federal government.

Lead researcher Matthew Albrecht said his team will rely on computer models, environmental data, and information on where native plants grow now. "By knowing the climate that they occur in now, we can estimate how their distributions might be changing in the future under different climatic scenarios."

The researchers will use those results to identify vulnerable species that won't be able to tolerate future environmental conditions in their current location. "We're going to be looking at the potential movement of those species, basically germinating them from seed and trying to understand their growth and survival in a new habitat," Albrecht said.

Albrecht added that the research will focus primarily on the lower Midwest, with the expectation that some vulnerable species are going to need to move north to survive a changing climate.

The ultimate goal would be to collect and save the seeds of the species at greatest risk of extinction in seed banks at the Missouri Botanical Garden and other institutions.


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