Date: Monday, May 6
Time: 4 PM
Place: Shoenberg Theater - Auditorium of the Missouri Botanical Garden (entrance on Shaw)
Title: Conservation: Hope in the Age of Extinction
Speaker: Professor Kingsley Dixon, Botanic Garden and Parks Authority, Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
When Charles Darwin visited the southwest of Western Australia in 1836 he remarked that never had he seen such a dull and uninteresting place. He never again visited. But had Darwin stepped ashore and ventured just a few miles inland he would have discovered a botanical wonderland unrivalled for diversity, richness and exuberance. Today the state of Western Australia has an astonishing 12,000 species of flowering plant with the richest assemblage of ground orchids on earth - including the remarkable Western Australian underground orchid that spends its entire life cycle buried in the dry and parched soils of the interior. Wherever you look there are marvels as you wander landscapes replete with the greatest diversity of insect eating plants and the world's richest diversity of the blueberry family. And nowhere else is pollination of flowers taken to such extremes with one in ten plants pollinated by birds or where you are more than likely to see hapless male wasps being sexually deceived by orchid flowers that are 'vegetable females'. For botanical science the southwest of the remarkable continent of Australia provides a laboratory unparalleled in the opportunities for unravelling nature's mysteries. This Dwyer lecture will share some of these discoveries and advances including how smoke from bush fires stimulates our flora to burst into colourful carpets of colour and how today, with the threats of unbeatable climate change upon us, the science that is being used to save species from the brink of extinction. I do hope you will join me on a journey of discovery to the Great South Land and unlike Darwin, see the seemingly inexhaustible beauty and brilliance that is the Western Australian outback.