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James E. Watkins: Status of the endangered American Hart’s Tongue Fern

By Upstate Institute on January 1, 2010
Professor Watkins at an academic conference with his student researchers, Weston Testo '12, and Michael Britton '12.

Professor Watkins at an academic conference with his student researchers, Weston Testo ’12, and Michael Britton ’12.

The following is a faculty research project supported by the Upstate Institute:

James E. Watkins, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Conservation

This grant will allow Watkins to pursue research on this species of fern (Phyllitis scolopendrium var. americana), listed as federally threatened and one of only a handful of New York plants protected under the Endangered Species Act. Fewer than 4,000 of these plants are in existence, and over 90% of these can be found within a two hour drive of Colgate. Watkins’s research will allow scientists to better understand the origins and conservation status of the plant. He will study the plant’s ecology, physiology, and molecular biology, and will work with local landowners to better inform them of the status and importance of this species.

Weston Testo, ’12, was awarded the prestigious Botanical Society of America Undergraduate Student Research Award for his proposal titled: Desiccation tolerance and calcium requirements of gametophytes of American Hart’s-Tongue Fern, Phyllitis scolopendrium var. americana. He presented a poster on his work at the annual BSA meeting last week in Providence RI. Michael Britton, ’12, also attended and presented a poster titled: Fertile-sterile leaf dimorphy in ferns: seasonal physiological responses and costs of reproduction.


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