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Open the Garden Gate to Coastal Habitats - Annual Symposium Speakers


Bio: Jason received his M.S. in Ecology in 2002 from the Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia. Currently, he is employed as the Program Manager for the Coastal Nongame Conservation Section, Wildlife Resources Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The DNR Nongame Section is charged with management of all nongame species of Georgia, and specifically they are responsible for implementation of federal and state programs concerned with conservation of imperiled species.

As a dynamic environment rich in wildlife, the Georgia Coast is an important conservation area, and his programs reflect that biodiversity. The Sea Turtle, Marine Mammal and Shorebird programs all manage for threatened and endangered species that depend on Georgia habitats, working with Federal, State and private partners to further common conservation goals. The Coastal Habitat Program inventories and manages for rare plants and communities in coastal environments. The Invasive Species Program focuses on identification, control and eradication of invasive exotic species. In addition to, and integral to these programs, Jason utilizes his background in Landscape Ecology to evaluate State wildlife status and trends and helps prioritize State greenspace acquisition.

Talk Title: Coastal Georgia's Habitats: Status and Challenges

The Coast of Georgia, despite its desirability for development, contains the most substantial, continuous, and protected area in Georgia. With a significant percentage of its barrier islands and all of its saltmarsh protected, the adjacent coast is a mix of development, conservation, agriculture and forestry.

The result is that many coastal habitats, although not pristine, are abundant and thriving here in coastal Georgia, while others are both diminishing and threatened. The information the DNR compiles and analyzes to make management decisions for Georgia's threatened and endangered wildlife can be helpful in understanding Georgia's Coastal habitat status and trends.

Dr. Doug Tallamy - Keynote Speaker (Morning)

Bio: Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored eighty research articles and has taught insect taxonomy, behavioral ecology, humans and nature, and other courses for thirty-two years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. 

His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 silver medal by the Garden Writer’s Association. Tallamy was awarded the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd Jr. Award of Excellence in 2013.

Talk Title: Making Insects: A guide to restoring the little things that run the world

Insect populations have declined 45% globally since 1974. The most alarming part of this statistic is that we don’t seem to care! Yet a world without insects is a world without humans! So how do we build landscapes that support the pollinators, herbivores, detritivores, predators and parasitoids that run the ecosystems we depend on? Tallamy will remind us of the many essential roles insects play, and describe the simple changes we must make in our landscapes and our attitudes to keep insects on the ground, in the air and yes, on our plants.

Linda Chafin 

Bio:   Linda has a M.S. in Botany from UGA, where she studied under Dr. Sam Jones, Jr. and wrote a thesis on the flora and ecology of Southern Appalachian boulderfields. She has conducted rare species surveys and natural community inventories throughout the southeastern U.S. since the mid-1980s. Linda is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. 

Formerly a botanist for the Florida Natural Areas Inventory and a private environmental consultant, she is currently a Conservation Botanist at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, at the University of Georgia in Athens. She is the author of "The Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Adjacent States" , "A Field Guide to the Rare Species of Georgia", and "Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Florida".

Talk Title: Botanical Adventures in Georgia's Coastal Counties

Georgia's six coastal counties -- Chatham, Bryan, Liberty, McIntosh, Glynn, and Camden -- are a botanical wonderland, with about 180 plant families and a whopping 1800 plant species occurring in many different natural communities. Linda will talk about the wildflowers we are most likely to see in coastal county natural areas, focusing on the "big four families," the mints, composites, beans, and grasses. Tips for recognizing plant families and identifying common species will be emphasized.

Dr. James Porter - Keynote Speaker (Afternoon)

Bio: Dr. James W. Porter is an Ecology Professor at UGA. The main goal of his research and teaching is the importance of reducing human impact on our environment - arguably the most important issue of our lifetime. YOU can make a difference!

With a Ph.D. from Yale University, Dr. Porter has devoted his life to the study of the environment and its preservation. He is a distinguished University of Georgia Professor in the Odum School of Ecology. 

Dr. Porter is also a faculty member in the School of Marine Programs, Water Resources and Conservation Ecology.He frequently does Oceanographic research on coral reefs, determining the effects of global warming and other human instigated effects on this precious biome. 

His other passion is butterflies, including the migratory patterns, endangered species, and preservation. Dr. Porter leads a research study abroad program in Costa Rica.

Talk Title: Georgia's Pearly Eye Butterflies: Local Action Yields an Extraordinary Conservation Success

This talk will discuss biodiversity patterns across our state from Appalachia to Coastal Georgia and will show how the use of Georgia's special purpose local-option sales tax (SPLOST) program has resulted in the preservation of a treasure trove of GA-DNR habitats of critical concern and threated plant and animal species. Most extraordinary so far has been the discovery of the presence of all three closely-related species of Pearly Eye butterfly species within a newly acquired SPLOST conservation area. The presence of three virtually indistinguishable, but genetically distinct, "sibling species" at the same time and in the same place is unheard of outside the tropics. Only in protected areas can species with ranges shifted by climate change and human development coexist and survive. Dr. Porter will use this stunning example of local biodiversity preservation to demonstrate the importance and success of local conservation efforts.

Dr. Porter encourages you to bring your cameras as there will be an incredible display of over 1,000 specimen of butterflies and moths from his collection of Georgia Lepidoptera! You don't want to miss this!
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