Rank #1: Ep. 3 - Phytotelmata
Whereas plants communities define much of what we think of as "habitat," individuals themselves can be habitat too. Join Steve and I for a fun discussion about a very interesting way in which plants support a whole community of life.
Rank #2: Ep. 149 - Are These Herbs Working feat. Erin & Erin from This Podcast Will Kill You
Today we are joined by Erin and Erin from This Podcast Will Kill You to take a closer look at a few herbs that are commonly used by us humans. In this episode we cover the ecological and medical significance of Echinacea and St. John's Wort. We are not experts so this was more about 3 science-minded individuals trying to learn more about a topic far too many people take for granted. We learned a ton and we think you will too! This episode was produced in part by Tim, Carl, Lisa, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Daniella, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sami & Sven, Sophia, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, Sienna & Garth, Troy, and Margie.
Rank #3: Ep. 28 - The Friends of Langham Island
I spent the day volunteering with the Friends of Langham Island. They are a group of concerned citizens working to restore Langham Island's unique flora, which includes the endangered endemic Kankakee Mallow. It was a fun day and I met a lot of great people along the way.
Rank #4: Ep. 4 - Invasive Species: A Refreshing Take
Community ecologist Dr. Robert Warren joins us for an interesting discussion about invasive species. We touch on research limitations, rapid evolution, and Eltonian noise. This episode is a refreshing departure from the normal.
Rank #5: Ep. 29 - Grand Prairie Friends
Remnant prairies are few and far between but this week's podcast is going to take you to one. The Grand Prairie Friends invited people out to their Loda Prairie site this weekend to help them with seed collection. I was happy to oblige and the resulting adventure was quite fun. Tune in this week to enjoy a tour of an original prairie.
Rank #6: Ep. 55 - For the Love of Ferns
Who doesn't love ferns? After all, they represent one of the oldest lineages of plants on our planet. Far from being lowly curiosities living out their lives in the shade of their flowering cousins, ferns are incredibly complex organisms with astounding diversity. Dr. Carl Rothfels joins us for a fascinating discussion about ferns and their evolution. This is one conversation you don't want to miss.
Rank #7: Ep. 106 - Are Vines Parasites?
Vines are iconic the world around. Some are maligned whereas others are celebrated. Regardless of these viewpoints, their ecological importance cannot be understated. Joining us today to talk about the relationships between vines and trees is Tara Stewart, a PhD student at the University of Illinois. Tara and her colleague have taken a step back to ask some bigger theoretical questions about the relationships that vines have with trees. Join us for a fascinating discussion about this botanical lifestyle. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.
Rank #8: Ep. 203 - Oaks: Insights into Evolution & Ecology
Oaks are some of the most charismatic trees on the planet. They are also major players in the biosphere when it comes to their ecological impact. They also have a lot to teach us from a scientific perspective. Joining us in this episode is plant physiological and evolutionary ecologist Dr. Jeannine Cavender-Bares. Her career in science has focused heavily on oaks both from an ecological and evolutionary perspective. From the shape of their leaves to their role in carbon sequestration, Dr. Cavender-Bares is fascinated by how these trees evolved and became some of the dominant trees in the Americas. Join us as we gain some incredible insights from oaks. This episode was produced in part by Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.
Rank #9: Ep. 179 - Demystifying Orchids
Orchids are some of the most popular plants in all of the world. This hyper-diverse plant family captures our imagination like no other. So often, the true lives of orchids are so strange, so bizarre, that it can seem that anything is possible with these plants. This is one of the main reasons why orchids are also subject to a lot of speculation. My guest today is here to talk about why orchids are so mysterious and to set the record straight on a handful of orchid stories. Joining us from the Lankester Botanical Garden in Costa Rica is orchid specialist Dr. Adam Karremans. Dr. Karremans studies orchid diversity and ecology and he has set out to write a book all about the mysterious world of orchids. The better we get to know these plants, the better we can work to conserve them and the habitats they need for survival. This episode was produced in part by Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Daniel, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Mountain Misery Farms, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.
Rank #10: Ep. 14 - Urban Ecology
Urban ecology is a growing field of study. In this episode I sit down for a talk with ecologist Dave Spiering from Tifft Nature Center in the City of Buffalo. Dave studies succession in these man-made environments and his experience as a restoration practitioner provides unique insights into how we can manage our urban environments in better way.
Rank #11: Ep. 105 - Talking Soil With Author Paul Bogard
The soils beneath our feet comprise a complex ecosystem in and of themselves. Soils support literally every major ecosystem on this planet. Despite all of this, they are largely ignored. Even worse, we continually degrade them without a care in the world. The degradation is what inspired author Paul Bogard (The End of Night) to write his latest contribution to the world of science communication. Join us for a fascinating discussion about his new book The Ground Beneath Us. Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Bryan, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.
Rank #12: Ep. 57 - The Fascinating World of Liverworts
Say liverwort to some random person on the street and you are going to get some funny looks. Say it to the right person, however, and brace yourself because you are about to enter into a world hundreds of millions of years in the making. Liverworts represent something akin to the earliest stages in terrestrial plant evolution. Despite their diminutive stature, the world of liverworts is endlessly fascinating. For this reason I was very excited to sit down for a conversation with this week's guest. Laura Briscoe is a Research & Collections Assistant at The Field Museum who specializes in liverwort biology and her work focuses on cataloguing and describing liverwort diversity. Her research takes her to a small island off the coast of Chile where liverwort diversity far outnumbers that of vascular plants such as trees. This was one of the most fascinating conversations I have ever had and I really think you are going to enjoy it.
Rank #13: Ep. 67 - For the Love of Moss
For Dr. Lily Lewis, a love for mosses came early. This passion for bryophytes has taken her far up into Alaska and all the way down into Subarctic Chile. She has made some incredible discoveries along the way. From the feces of mammals to the feathers of birds, Dr. Lewis and her collaborators have uncovered some incredible aspects of moss ecology no one knew existed. Join us for a fascinating discussion about these underrated plants and learn how moss conservation may have serious consequences for ecosystem health. This episode was produced in part my Mark and Gregory.
Rank #14: Ep. 164 - Carnivorous Plants: Their Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution
Today we are joined by Dr. Aaron Ellison to talk about a new book called "Carnivorous Plants: Physiology, Ecology, and Evolution. Among other things, Dr. Ellison has spent much of his career learning about what the organisms living within pitcher plants can teach us about big picture ecological topics. Now, together with a team of collaborators, Dr.'s Ellison and Adamec have put together a modern synthesis about the myriad carnivorous plants with which we share this planet. This is a fascinating discussion that you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Philip, Henriette, Letícia, Ron, Tim, Carl, Lisa, Anthony, Susanna, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Katherina, Sophia, Lisa, Brent, Plant by Design, Mark, Rens, Mountain Misery Farms, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Clifton, Shane, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.
Rank #15: Ep. 132 - The Oak Origin Story And What It Means For Conservation
Who doesn't love oaks? This episode is all about their evolutionary origins. Joining us is a powerhouse team of scientists - Dr. Jeannine Cavender-Bares, Dr. Andrew Hipp, and Dr. Paul Manos - whose work has changed the oak origin story in a very interesting way. We also discuss what this means for oak conservation around the globe. If you love oaks, this is one episode you don't want to miss! This episode was produced in part by Allan, Irene, Clifton, Sebastian, Holly, Katherina, Shane, Amy, Caitlin, Rosanna, Mary Jane, Jennifer, Sarah, Christopher, Sienna & Garth, Troy, Margie, Laura, and Mark.
Rank #16: Ep. 87 - Fire in the Forest
I have been thinking about fire a lot these days. In the wake of recent forest fires in the southeast, I wanted to take a closer look at what fires mean for ecosystems other than prairies. To do this, I brought on my good friend and lab mate, Tyler Refsland, to discuss the implications of fire in forest ecosystems. Tyler's work is based in the oak hickory forests of southern Illinois and takes a unique perspective that spans many scales, from mycorrhizal fungi, to individual trees, and up to forest composition as a whole. Although this isn't an all encompassing look at the role of fire in ecosystems, it nonetheless offers a lot of food for thought. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Maz, Beccah, Desiree, Sienna, Laura, Margie, Troy, and Bryan.
Rank #17: Ep. 50 - Restoration Ecology with Author Paddy Woodworth
Restoration ecology represents a juxtaposition between science, the public, and human values. It is often a hot button topic full of strong and sometimes contentious opinions. The practice itself offers humanity a chance to regain what has been lost, to right at least some of our environmental wrongs. Whereas the science of restoration is in its infancy, the effort has been ongoing, sometimes for decades. Author Paddy Woodworth has written a wonderful book on the subject called "Our Once and Future Planet." He joins us for a thoughtful discussion regarding what he has learned about the subject after a decade of investigating it. As you will hear, he demonstrates just how complex the very idea of restoration can be, especially in a century of rapidly changing climate. This episode was produced in part by Allan of Kenosha, WI.
Rank #18: Ep. 204 - Asteraceae Addiction
The Aster family has nearly conquered the planet. It is one of the most diverse plant lineages on Earth and yet so many of us just pass them by without much of a thought. At least part of the reason may be the fact that composites can be difficult to identify. However, none of this has stopped my guest Joey Santore from taking a deep dive into the world of asters. What started as mostly curiosity with a hint of intimidation has since blossomed into a full on addiction with trying to get his head wrapped around the story of these plants. Along the way he is doing everything he can to share his passion with anyone who will listen in hopes that he can spark a love affair with botany in someone else's mind. Join us as we geek out about Asteraceae. Be warned, there is some strong language in this episode. This episode was produced in part by Vegreville Creek and Wetlands Fund, Kevin, Oliver, John, Johansson, Christina, Jared, Hannah, Katy Pye, Brandon, Gwen, Carly, Stephen, Botanical Tours, Moonwort Studios, Lisa, Liba, Lucas, Mohsin Kazmi Takes Pictures, doeg, Clifton, Stephanie, Rachelle, Benjamin, Eli, Rachael, Anthony, Plant By Design, Philip, Brent, Ron, Tim, Homestead Brooklyn, Brodie, Kevin, Sophia, Brian, Mark, Rens, Bendix, Irene, Holly, Caitlin, Manuel, Jennifer, Sara, and Margie.
Rank #19: Ep. 78 - A Focus On Native Bees
North America is home to a plethora of native bees. Sadly, they are a bit of a mystery. Overshadowed by non-native honey bees, many of our native species are in serious trouble. That is where scientists like Dr. Alexandra Harmon-Threatt come in. An assistant professor of entomology at the University of Illinois, her lab is focused on the interactions between native bees and the surrounding plant communities. This is a fascinating discussion that will hopefully inspire more people to dive into the shadows surrounding these important players in our local ecology. This episode was produced in part by Gregory, Mark, Bryan, Laura, Margie, and Allan.
Rank #20: Ep. 109 - Phylogenetics and the Largest Flower in the World
Joining us today from Harvard University is Dr. Charles Davis. His lab focuses on elucidating the phylogenetic relationships among the plants of the world. One of his most exciting projects revolves around a genus of plants known as Rafflesia, which is famous the world over for producing the largest single flower on this planet. Join us for a wonderfully enlightening conversation about taxonomy. This episode was produced in part by Mark, Allen, Desiree, Sienna & Garth, Laura, Margie, Troy, Sara, Jennifer, Christopher, Manuel, Daniel, John, Rosanna, and Mary Jane.