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Houston Chapter: Transforming Taxonomy – Meditations on Morphology

April 24 @ 6:30 pm 8:30 pm

When we look at a forest, a prairie, a savannah, a bog, it is so easy to see a wall of blurred greens, yellows, reds, and browns. But if we slow down and look closer- can we save space to ponder why plants develop certain morphological features? We can ask: Why is that flower curved upward, why do leaves smell minty, why do some trees have flaky bark, etc? This talk will explore how we can revivify botanical inquiry and how mindfulness and contemplation help us further understand our fellow green denizens of terra firma. As an ecologist, I am frequently seeing new unique shapes and patterns and the investigations of these patterns greatly help me understand the natural world. I will share my experience with utilizing floristic keys, species descriptions, and vegetation community assemblages to enrich natural explorations. These principles can be utilized at any biogeographical level and will expand the way you think about microhabitats to large ecosystems. This talk is largely contemplative – to constantly remind myself, and hopefully you, to maintain a childlike mind full of inquiry, awareness, engagement, and openness. Hopefully, this talk will encourage all of us to slow down, look, think, and make “fast” hikers never invite us on another walkabout.

Andy is the Chief Ecologist at The Earth Partners and has 15 years experience working within diverse ecosystems for a wide array of project types. His current position places an emphasis of environmental restoration planning, stakeholder engagement, construction, planting, and ecological uplift assessment. Andy’s specialties include aquatic feature delineations and jurisdictional determinations, Clean Water Act permitting, threatened and endangered species identification and consultations, NEPA compliance, plant identification, and community classification. His favorite ecosystems to spend time in include longleaf pine savannas, coastal prairies, southern Appalachian forests, and the cloud forest of Costa Rica. His favorite bird is the gyrfalcon (Falco rusticolus) and favorite plants are beaksedges (Rhynchospora spp.). Andy takes a contemplative view toward nature exploration and might be the record-holder for slowest mile ever hiked. 

2700 Southwest Freeway, Red Cross Building


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