Bulb Show Opening Lecture 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017
7: 30 pm - Campus Center Carroll Room

Botanical Explosions: The Evolutionary Impact of Ultra-fast Plants

Some plants move so quickly their movements occur faster than the blink-of-an-eye. These ultra-fast plant movements have evolved in plants as diverse as liverworts and mosses to flowering plants. This lecture explores these ultra-fast actions through high-speed video, which slows down the movements and define the biomechanics of the motion. Through examination of the plants in their native habitat, Joan Edwards helps us better understand these fast movements, how they are evolutionarily adaptive, and how they benefit the plant.
Video of the lecture

Joan Edwards portraitJoan Edwards is a botanist whose research focus is plant-animal interactions from herbivory to pollination. Her early work was on the impact of moose on plants in the boreal forests of Isle Royale National Park. Her current work focuses on pollination, a mutualism between flowers and their pollinators, which is critical to understand in the face of global pollinator decline and loss of species worldwide. She has a special interest in understanding the biomechanics and adaptive significance of ultra-fast plant movements—plant actions that are so quick they occur on the order of milliseconds. Using high-speed video (up to 100,000 fps), she studies the evolutionary significance and biomechanics of fast movements including the trebuchet catapults of bunchberry dogwood, the vortex rings of Sphagnum moss, and the splash cups of liverworts. Joan Edwards is Professor and Chair of the Biology Department at Williams College where she has been a faculty member since 1979. At Williams she teaches courses in Ecology, Plant Systematics and Conservation Biology.

A reception at the Lyman Plant House will follow. The Spring Bulb Show will be on view in the illuminated Lyman Conservatory.

Bunchberry dogwood flowers