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2023 Lecture Series

Trees: Up Close and Personal


Learn about the fascinating role of a tree's canopy, trunk, and underground networks for the tree and for the planet during these three immersive lectures.

All lectures are from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Doors open at 6:00 PM for drinks, appetizers, and garden strolling. Lectures begin at 7:00 PM in the Manor House. Masks are recommended inside the Manor House.

The June 21st concert is sold out and the July 14th and August 11th concerts have limited tickets available.

The Forest Canopy:
An Ecosystem Overhead

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Hannah Prather, National Science Foundation postdoctoral research fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at Reed College.

Have you ever wandered beneath towering evergreens, wondering about the mysteries of the canopy above you? Nestled amidst the treetops, the forest canopy is a living tapestry, abundant with an incredible diversity of flora and fauna not found in other layers of the forest. The canopy plays a crucial role in the ecosystem's functioning and overall resilience. This talk will explore the intricate structures and functions of the canopy, and you’ll discover how it contributes to maintaining biodiversity and ecological balance in the forest. We’ll explore the methods that scientists use to study these complex arboreal habitats, including tree climbing and drones. Together, we will gain an appreciation for the beauty, complexities and irreplaceable significance of the forest canopy, inspiring us to become caretakers of the overstory above our heads!

Photo: Lance Koudele

Hannah received a PhD in Biology from PSU, where she explored the use of biotic communities as ecosystem indicators, to better understand the functional role of mosses and lichens in Pacific Northwest forests.
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Wood: The 'Backbone' of Terrestrial Ecosystems

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Aaron Ramirez, Associate Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Reed College

What is the wood of a tree, really? How about the bark? What role do these parts of a tree play for the tree itself, a forest ecosystem, and for the planet? Plants that have wood (think trees and shrubs) evolved more than 350 million years ago and when they did, they changed the world forever. In addition, they may just be our most important ally in the fight to halt and reverse the effects of Climate Change. This talk will explore these topics and more to understand just how important the wood of trees is to everything we do, from the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the energy we use to fuel our digital lives. We will also talk specifically about recent research concerning how climate change is impacting our native trees and the unique forest ecosystems they shape in our region, including Portland’s spectacular urban forest.

Dr. Ramirez's teaching and research focuses on translational ecology approaches to reducing the impacts of extreme events on the health and function of forest trees and connected human communities.
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Fungi for the Future:
Partnering with Fungi for Climate Resilience, Soil Health, and Food

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Toby Query, Ecologist with the City of Portland Revegetation Program and founder of Portland Ecologists Unite!

Fungi and their mycelial network teach us that forests and other habitats are an interconnected network of different and often symbiotic beings. Fungi can be found as mycorrhizae attached to roots, inside plants as endophytes, and as wood decomposers. Mycorrhizal networks demonstrate the importance of fungi to the resilience of ecosystems as facilitators of communication, nutrient allocation, and carbon sequestration. Wood-decomposing fungi can degrade human-created toxins, build soil, and create mushrooms. Fungi are everywhere, yet we are just learning their importance for soil health and climate resiliency. We will talk about working with fungi to create a fungi-focused landscape that can be more climate resilient and holistic.

Toby, father, husband, and City Ecologist has a Senior Ecologist certification from the Ecological Society of America. He is a regular contributor to "The Nature of Cities" website. While working for the City of Portland, he has overseen the planting of over 4 million trees and shrubs.
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Getting to Leach Botanical Garden

Transportation & Directions