The Conservation Conference will include talks from influential speakers in the field of native plant conservation. Come be inspired!

Opening Plenary: Doug Tallamy

Restoring Nature’s Relationships
Thursday, February 1, 8:15 am

Specialized relationships between animals and plants are the norm in nature rather than the exception. Plants that evolved in concert with local animals provide for their needs better than plants that evolved elsewhere. Tallamy will explain why this is so, why specialized food relationships determine the stability and complexity of the local food webs that support animal diversity, why our yards and gardens are essential parts of the ecosystems that sustain us, how we can use our residential landscapes to connect the isolated habitat fragments around us and produce valuable ecosystem services, and what we can do to make our landscapes living ecosystems once again. Managing landscapes in this crowded world carries both moral and ecological responsibilities that we can no longer ignore.

Doug Tallamy - LepidopteraDoug Tallamy, Ph.D. is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 87 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 34 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 Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine. Among his awards are the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation and the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence.

Opening Plenary Sponsored By
Gottlieb Native Garden

Banquet Speaker: Stu Weiss

Smog is Fertilizer: The Long and Winding Road from the Pages of Conservation Biology to a Habitat Conservation Plan
Friday, February 2, during the banquet

The road from scientific discovery to conservation action is rarely straight and narrow, nor is it fast. In this talk, Stu will recount how a revelation in 1993 – that nitrogen fertilization from Silicon Valley smog threatened the listed Bay checkerspot butterfly by driving annual grass invasions in serpentine grasslands, and that cattle grazing was the key to controlling the impacts – was turned into a scientific publication, and then leveraged to eventually create the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan. Publishing the paper in 1999 was only a first step; mitigation precedents for powerplant nitrogen emissions led to mitigation for freeway widening that included a commitment to a regional HCP in 2001. After more than 10 years of additional science and advocacy, including “Operation Flower Power” tours for elected officials and others and building a “Habitat Conservation Now” coalition, the Habitat Plan was adopted in 2013. The 50-year, $665,000,000 HCP/NCCP promises coordinated conservation and long-term stewardship, and the first major conservation acquisition, >1800 acres of mostly serpentine grasslands, was closed in 2015. Nitrogen deposition is a major, if underappreciated, threat to biodiversity of native plants across much of California and the Santa Clara Valley experience provides one model for addressing it.

Weiss Headshot cropped 2Stu Weiss, Ph.D. (Stanford University) is Chief Scientist of Creekside Science (, which provides scientific and conservation expertise to diverse organizations as they cope with the rapidly changing 21st Century environment. He has researched the Bay checkerspot butterfly and serpentine grasslands since 1979, and has authored numerous scientific papers concerning climate/microclimate, population dynamics, nitrogen deposition, and conservation ecology. Creekside Science executes many hands-on restoration projects, including butterfly reintroductions, propagation of endangered plants, and habitat monitoring and management. His research and advocacy were instrumental in the development of the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan, and he is Science Advisor for the Bay Area Conservation Lands Network.

Closing Plenary Talks: Best Kept Secrets!

Saturday, February 3, 3:00 pm

California plant conservation is a remarkable success story. Against all odds, we have protected almost 50% of our lands and saved 99.7% of our plant species. Key to this success is the application of cutting edge science to urgent action. However, there are remarkably important scientific discoveries which remain surprisingly little-known.

This session gives a spotlight to scientists and explorers whose innovative work will transform your understanding of California plants and places, and open your eyes to hidden “aha!” truths. You will come away with stories to share, a broadened perspective that will advance and transform your work, and inspiration from the beauty and magic of this still-mysterious land.

Carolyn Malmstrom

MalmstromCarolyn Malmstrom, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Plant Biology at Michigan State University. The Malmstrom Lab studies plant, virus, and landscape ecology, with a particular interest in understanding how ecological communities and ecosystems respond to perturbations, such as changes in disturbance regimes or the introduction of exotic species. She will be speaking on “The Secret Power of Plant Viruses”.

Blair McLaughlin

mclaughlinBlair McLaughlin, Ph.D. is a visiting researcher in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. She explores how species will respond to changing climate, including which species will expand and succeed in a warmer, dryer future.

Kim Stanley Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson NEWKim Stanley Robinson is a highly acclaimed science fiction writer and New York Times Bestselling author. His Mars Trilogy and The Wild Shore: Three Californias reflect a vision of the future shaped by a childhood in development-crazy Orange County and a life spent exploring California’s Sierra Nevada. Virtually all of Robinson’s novels carry a common theme for the need for ecological sustainability. His latest book, New York 2140, was released earlier this year.