Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes Conference keynote speakers announced

Keynote speakers from six universities and three countries will kick off this important conference for those working with ornamental plant production and maintenance.

Pollinators are an important part of the ornamental landscape. Photo credit: Kristin Getter, MSU
Pollinators are an important part of the ornamental landscape. Photo credit: Kristin Getter, MSU

The first national Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes Conference is being hosted by Michigan State University Extension and North Carolina State University in Hendersonville, North Carolina, Oct. 12-14, 2015. We are pleased to announce the conference will feature seven keynote speakers: Dave Goulson, University of Sussex; Jane Memmott, University of Bristol; Dan Potter, University of Kentucky; Nigel Raine, University of Guelph; Kirsten Traynor, University of Maryland; and Rufus Isaacs and Heidi Wollaeger, Michigan State University. The keynotes and 15 other internationally-recognized speakers will be addressing topics at five sessions of the conference:

  • Function of pollinators in the ornamental landscape
  • Threats to pollinators in the ornamental landscape
  • Pesticides and pollinators
  • Boots on the ground: Efforts, challenges and opportunities for protecting pollinators
  • Educating the public

Below are descriptions of the keynote speakers organized by their topic session.

Opening keynote

Dave GoulsonDave Goulson, professor of ecology at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, will talk about the stresses faced by bumble bees in urban landscapes. He will also offer insight on recent initiatives in the United Kingdom to involve the public in monitoring pollinator numbers and pollination services and in creating habitat for pollinators in the session, "Boots on the Ground: Efforts, Challenges and Opportunities for Protecting Pollinators."

Goulson has published more than 230 scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of bumble bees and other insects. He is the author of popular science books about bumble bees, including “Bumblebees: Their Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation,” “A Sting in the Tale,” which was a Sunday Times bestseller, and “A Buzz in the Meadow.” He was the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Social Innovator of the Year in 2010, was given the Zoological Society of London’s Marsh Award for Conservation Biology in 2013, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2013, and given the British Ecological Society Public Engagement Award in 2014.

Function of pollinators in ornamental landscapes

Rufus IsaacsRufus Isaacs, professor of entomology at Michigan State University, will introduce attendees to wild bee biology and how it should guide bee conservation strategies. He will review the life cycles of bees commonly seen in ornamental landscapes and strategies for enhancing their abundance by providing habitat for foraging and nesting. Recently, his research and extension program has increasingly included studies of bee community responses to farm management including landscape diversity, habitat enhancement and pest management. He currently leads the Integrated Crop Pollination project, a national effort funded by USDA-NIFA's Specialty Crop Research Initiative to develop sustainable crop pollination strategies for specialty crop producers.

Threats to pollinators in ornamental landscapes

Jane Memmott1Jane Memmott, professor of ecology at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, will discuss pollinator abundance and diversity in urban, agricultural or nature reserves, and what can be done to improve them. She studies pollination ecology, urban ecology, restoration ecology, the impact of alien species on natural communities and the impact of farming on biodiversity. Some of her most important contributions to the field include constructing 115 island food webs to determine how functional diversity relates to network structure and running the Urban Pollinators Consortium project.

Kirsten TraynorKirsten Traynor, research associate at the University of Maryland, will discuss honey bee health and the factors that could affect colony health, including changing agricultural practices, introduced parasites, migratory stress and poor nutrition. She will share results of a five-year National Honey Bee Disease Survey which indicated the central role of the introduced parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, and the increasing prevalence of a suite of honey bee viruses. She is the author of two books, “Simple, Smart Beekeeping” and “Two Million Blossoms,” and has published over 50 articles in bee journals. Her current research focuses on how pheromones influence colony dynamics, pollen foraging and honey bee physiology.

Pesticides and pollinators

Daniel PotterDaniel Potter, professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky, will help attendees understand the controversy over bees and neonicotinoid insecticides, why it matters and how lawn and tree care professionals and homeowners can safeguard bees when controlling pests in urban landscapes. He has studied and taught about pests and beneficial insects in urban landscapes for nearly 40 years and is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, receiving its highest national awards for research and teaching. His industry recognitions include the U.S. Golf Association Green Section Award, the Professional Land Care Network’s Leadership Award and the American Nursery and Landscape Association’s Distinguished Career Achievement Award.

Nigel RaineNigel Raine, Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation at the University of Guelph in Canada, will discuss pesticide impacts on pollinators in complex landscapes. He will review how pollinators are exposed to pesticides in ornamental landscapes and how this can be avoided or mitigated. His research examines the behavior and ecology of bees and the impacts of environmental stressors, such as pesticide exposure, for the conservation of sustainable pollinator populations. Raine is an elected Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and the Linnean Society of London. In addition to having studied pollinators on three continents, he is actively engaged with a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers, farming and grower’s association, grocery chains and beekeepers, on issues related to pollinator health and conservation.

Educating the public

Heidi WollaegerHeidi Wollaeger is a greenhouse and nursery Extension educator with MSU Extension. She provides Michigan floriculture greenhouse growers with up-to-date information and recommendations for crop production by offering educational programs, individual consultations and publications. Her current research focus is on how to market ornamental plants appealing to niche markets. She will share research results of a two-year nationwide consumer survey that queried consumer perceptions about pest control techniques during ornamental flower production. Data presented will include consumer preferences, willingness-to-buy and barriers to altering the predominant perception among consumers.

For the full agenda of the conference and other details including lodging information, please see the Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes Conference website. To register online, go to the conference registration website. Registration for the conference is limited to the first 170 participants.

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