The Orchid Conservation Alliance Presents
Recordings from the Orchid Conservation Alliance First ever Conservation Symposium
It is a pleasure to present to you the Orchid Conservation Alliance’s first-ever Orchid Conservation Symposium. The goal was to acquaint our audience with our currently-supported reserves and some of the people who are overseeing them. In the past we have asked these conservationists what they were up to, written a summary, and sent it to the members of the Orchid Conservation Alliance. With the advent of live Zoom programming, we were able to bring our partners and their reserve projects directly to you.
We are currently supporting three organizations: Fundación EcoMinga in Ecuador, Corporación SalvaMontes in northern Colombia, and La Palma in southern Colombia. The symposium kicked off with an introductory biodiversity presentation by renowned biologist and OCA member Tom Givnish. After that, the principals behind each of these organizations gave a presentation about their reserve and recent activities followed by a Q and A session.
The event took place on March 26, 2022. We had over 250 registrants, and over 100 people attended the live event.
Drivers of Biodiversity
Professor Tom Givnish, University of Wisconsin
Professor Tom Givnish
Professor Tom Givnish is a plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist and is the Henry Allan Gleason Professor of Botany and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He and his students have made seminal contributions to our understanding of plant adaptations for energy capture and reproduction, the study of adaptive radiation, and the determinants of plant species diversity. Dr. Givnish has used state-of-the-art methods and theory to analyze the relationships of phylogeny, ecology, geography, and species diversification in several species-rich and ecologically divergent groups, including bromeliads, orchids, lilies, and monocots as a whole, as well as in Eucalyptus and the Hawaiian lobeliads, one of the most striking examples of adaptive radiation in plants, and the largest plant lineage native to any single island or archipelago on Earth.
Dr. Givnish will give a lead-off presentation on the drivers of orchid biodiversity, giving a brief survey of orchid relationships based on chloroplast and nuclear data, the traits, lineages, and geographic regions associated with high rates of species diversification, hot spots of orchid diversity, and the paradox of narrow orchid endemism. This global framework should provide perspectives on the OCA efforts in Ecuador and Colombia.
Activities of Fundación EcoMinga, Baños, Ecuador
Lou Jost and Marco Monteros
Lou Jost is originally from the US, where he began to grow orchids when he was 12 years old. He studied physics and math, but was always dreaming about tropical biodiversity, and soon began to work as a guide and nature photographer in Mexico, Costa Rica, and eventually Ecuador, where he put down roots in 1994. As he explored the Ecuadorian Andes he began to discover many new species of orchids, most in areas that were not protected by national parks or reserves. Eventually Lou and his friends felt a responsibility to protect the things we had discovered, so in 2006 they formed the EcoMinga Foundation to begin building large reserves to protect these strategic biodiversity hotspots. This work continues. Lou has also have worked on the mathematics for describing biodiversity and genetic diversity, and on the statistics of the fossil dates used to calibrate molecular phylogenies. (Spoiler alert: older nodes are most likely to be twice as old as the current publications suggest!)
Marco Monteros is an environmental engineer and a member of the Fundación EcoMinga and the Reserve youth council: The Youth Land Trust. As a technical and scientific member of the Fundación EcoMinga, Marco’s work is focused on the conservation and study of orchids of the cloud forests of northwestern Ecuador.
Activities of Corporacion SalvaMontes, Yaramul, Colombia
Sebastián Vieira, a naturalist and engineer, grew up surrounded by orchids and has been exploring the mountains of Colombia with his father and friends to see and photograph orchids in nature. He has discovered and described a number of new orchid species and in 2016 joined a group of conservation oriented people to establish SalvaMontes, a non-profit ONG dedicated to the conservation of nature and biodiversity. Currently, SalvaMontes protects 1,300 acres of cloud forests in a highly biodiverse hotspot in the northern tropical Andes where several locally endemic and threatened orchids are protected. Sebastian is the Executive Director of the ONG and is also a member of the Colombian Plant Specialist and Orchid Specialist groups of the IUCN.
Activities at the La Palma Reserve
Professor Marta Kolanowska
Professor Marta Kolanowska
Marta Kolanowska is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Lodz (Poland) as well as a researcher at the Global Change Research Institute (Czech Republic). Her research interests include orchid diversity and evaluation of the impact of global warming on the ecological niches of orchids. She has described more than 350 new orchid species, mostly from South America.
As the President of the Biodiversitatis Foundation she launched the founding of the private reserve called La Palma, located in the Sibundoy Valley, Colombia. La Palma protects the unique orchid flora of this area.