Celebrating Women in Science: Kathryn McEachern

Thursday, October 6, 2011
6:45 PM
Scripps - Hampton Room
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Scripps - Malott Commons
Malott Commons
Malott Commons Office

Kathryn McEachern, Research Plant Biologist, USGS-WERC, Channel Islands Field Station will present, "Rare Plants on the Northern Channel Islands: Who are they, where do they live, how are they doing; and . . . how do we study them?".
Dr. Kathryn McEachern received a PhD in Plant Ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she developed an interest in exploring how changes in the environment affect populations of rare and endangered plants.  She has been studying the ecology of rare plants on the northern Channel Islands in the Channel Islands National Park for nearly a decade, where she is a Research Plant Ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey - Western Ecological Science Center’s Channel Islands Field Station, in Ventura, California.  Prior to graduate school she worked in as a Reclamation Ecologist in the coal mining industry, where she designed reclamation plans and worked in topsoil stripping and revegetation operations.
 There are about 775 different kinds of plants known from the five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park. Seventy-five of these are found nowhere else in the world – they occur only on the islands. They come in a variety of shapes and forms, including one that forms parasitic root connections with other plants to get a start on life along the coastal bluffs. Some are tiny annuals seldom seen in large numbers, germinating mainly in response to special and infrequent combinations of rainfall and temperature. Others are very slow-growing, requiring constant conditions of fog and high humidity unique to only a few places on the islands. All have had to contend with enormous changes in their habitats as the land was used for ranching and farming. The USGS Channel Islands Field Station has focused a research program on the most rare and endangered of these plants over the past decade. From searches on foot and by helicopter, thorough yearly measurements of plant growth and using greenhouse and field experiments, we are leaning where these plants live, how they grow, and how they respond to changes in their environments. Come hear about what we have learned, and how we can use this knowledge to help these plants as the islands rebound from the effects of ranching and farming.

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