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Sylva Rotary 01/16/2014
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Sylva Rotary 01/16/2014


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  • 1. Local Focus Global Perspective Celebrating 87 years of research, teaching and learning at the Highlands Biological Station Jim Costa Highlands Biological Station • Western Carolina University Highlands NC Cullowhee NC
  • 2. ! ! • Founded 1927 • University of North Carolina system 1976 • Administered by WCU since 1981
  • 3. Now in our 87th year! • ~25 acre campus near downtown Highlands • Residential facilities sleeping 38 • Dining hall • Teaching & research laboratories • Classrooms • Library, GIS & Aquatics labs • Full wireless campus • 12-acre native plant Botanical Garden • Historic WPA-built museum
  • 4. Why Highlands? Latitude • Precipitation • Antiquity • Topography • Climate History Several factors converge to create a ‘hotspot’ in our region, with biological species richness nearly unrivaled in the temperate zones of earth.
  • 5. More flowering plant species can be found in a single southern Appalachian Rich Cove forest than in all of Europe.
  • 6. Scientific Crossroads for over 200 years
  • 7. HBS Academic Program ~ 15 accredited courses and workshops each summer Immersion.
  • 8. @ Field Site of the UNC-IE since 2001 Coursework & field research focused on applied study of the southern Appalachian environment UNC Chapel Hill Western Carolina Univ. NC State Univ.
  • 9. Student Research
  • 10. Educational Outreach Highlands Nature Center • Weekly kids’ programs • Zahner Lecture Series • Science camps • School outreach: Macon, Jackson, Swain Co. public schools • Special events
  • 11. Highlands Botanical Garden Established 1962 ~12 acres ~450 native plant species in a naturalistic setting Wetlands Upland woods Cove forest Rock outcrop
  • 12. In celebration of 50 years of the Highlands Botanical Garden ~ 1962 - 2012 ~
  • 13. Local Focus Global Perspective Scientific value ecological & evolutionary processes “Our green is our gold” Aesthetic value –Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition Asheville tourism, recreation; spiritual value Educational value natural classroom Economic value forestry; medicinals and other bioproducts; ecosystem services
  • 14. Highlands Biodiversity Scholarship est. 2007
  • 15. Bob Zahner Endowed Fund in Environmental Studies est. 2009
  • 16. A tradition of research support by the Highlands Biological Foundation, Inc. for over 50 years
  • 17. Our Natural Laboratory • Basic research on the unique ecology & organisms of the southern Appalachians. Some recent studies: – Interspecific competition between three Neotropical migratory bird species – Neurobiology and behavior of salamanders – Biogeography and diversity of wood-decaying fungi – Physiological adaptation in sun vs. shade plants – Genetic analysis of a salamander hybrid zone – Inhibitory effects of salamander skin secretions on fungal pathogens
  • 18. Our Natural Laboratory • Applied research on human interaction with the land and biota of the region. For example: – Comparison of monitoring approaches for southern Appalachian stream fish – Road construction on USFS land and ecological “edge effects” – Analysis of montane golf courses as salamander habitat – Analysis of soil microbial communities of Fraser Fir and potential use in reforestation – Pathogenic analysis of Rhododendron decline
  • 19. New salamander species named for former HBS Director Dick Bruce This species is evolutionarily most closely related to the Eurycea. It appears to be rare, and is likely to be of conservation concern. Males are patterned dorsally and have proportionately large nasal cirri. Females are unicolored and either lack or have vestigial nasal cirri. Known only from Stephens County, GA. With a total length of only ~5 cm (~2 inches), an adult Urspelerpes could coil comfortably on a quarter. While other July 2009
  • 20. Legacy: Dozens of graduate theses & dissertations Hundreds of scientific papers, reports, monographs
  • 21. HBS Conservation Biology of Amphibians class Conservation Biology (2007 21:159-167) Canadian Journal of Zoology (2012 90:1128-1135)
  • 22. Local Focus Global Perspective Exploration and Discovery
  • 23. Darwin  and  geographical  botany:   the  Appalachian  Connection My dear Gray — “...I have been reading a paper by you on plants on mountains of Carolina... in which you state that most are the same with the plants of the N. States & Canada... I remember Bartram makes the same remark with respect to several trees on the Occone Mts.—not that I know where these Mountains are.—” [Darwin to Gray, 1856]
  • 24. My research interests: • Ecology, evolution & behavior of social insects • History of evolutionary biology Harvard, 2006 Harvard, 2009
  • 25. Alfred Russel Wallace 1823 – 1913 • Pre-eminent tropical biologist of his day • The founder of modern evolutionary biogeography • Co-discoverer with Darwin of the principle of natural selection
  • 26. Four Years in Amazonia 1848-1852 Rio Negro
  • 27. Eight Years in Southeast Asia 1854-1862 “Spec ies N 1854- otebook” 1859 ))))))))
  • 28. 2013
  • 29. Forthcoming, 2014 Come visit!