by Tammy L. Elliott
Thanks to financial support from the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science (QCBS), I attended Botany 2016—joint meetings of the Botanical Society of America and the Canadian Botanical Association—from July 25th to 29th in Edmonton, Alberta. To many of you, a trip to Edmonton might not seem very exciting; however, this proved to be a wonderful conference offering awesome field trips, workshops, symposium and presentations. I also found it to be a great opportunity to catch-up with colleagues.
As with many botanical conferences, Botany 2015 began with a couple of days of optional field trips. I had noted that this region was low in fern diversity while doing botanical work earlier in my career, so it caught my curiosity when I saw a trip entitled “Ferns of Elk Island”. I also noticed that the trip would be lead by the author of a taxonomic key for Botrychium (moonwarts) that I had recently used—Dr. Daniel Farrar. Dr. Farrar demonstrated how detailed searching on hands and knees is required to find Botrychium and Sceptridium species. With patience and lots of eye-power, we were able to find a few different species that most people, let alone trained botanists, would never have spotted.
I spent Sunday attending a workshop on “Introduction to Next Generation Sequencing”, which will be useful knowledge to use as my career progresses. Following the workshop was the plenary speech given by Dr. Ken Thompson from the University of Sheffield in England. Dr. Thompson’s humorous presentation focused on the public’s perception of botany and the role of the media in creating these misconceptions.
The next three days were filled with interesting presentations and societal meetings. On the second last day of the conference, I presented work from my fourth thesis chapter titled “Delineating ecological boundaries at local scales: a comparison of phylogenetic versus species beta diversity metrics”. In this presentation, I compared the effectiveness of traditional beta diversity compared to more novel phylogenetic metrics in delineating vascular plant communities along an elevational gradient on Mont Irony, Labrador. The main message of my presentation was that contrary to expectations, phylogenetic beta diversity is not a better metric for delineating communities. I found the other presentations that I attended during the conference very informative, giving me a more defined idea of the context of my own doctoral work. I also appreciate the networking opportunities that the conference provided, as well as the potential research ideas that came out of the experience.
In conclusion, I thank the QCBS for supporting my attendance at this conference, as well as other conferences and workshops throughout my doctoral studies.