Dennis Whigham and Julianne McGuinness, North American Orchid Conservation Center
The North American Orchid Conservation Center (NAOCC) was developed by the Smithsonian and the U.S. Botanic Garden to conserve the diversity of native orchids in the U.S. and Canada. NAOCC ecologically-based conservation model has three guiding principles: Preservation through seed and fungal banks, Propagation, Education. NAOCC has a growing network of public and private collaborators working to collect and store seeds of native orchids to further the understanding their ecology, preserve genetic diversity, and provide material for use in research that supports propagation and restoration efforts. NAOCC's collaborative model for orchid conservation is guiding a new project to develop best practices and storage protocols for orchid seeds and their fungal associates. To address the urgent need for evidence-based standardized procedures, NAOCC and a number of its collaborators will study storage practices, conduct germination tests, and develop protocols for each species. Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) took the lead on a grant application to the IMLS for funding for this project. NAOCC joins CBG, the New England Wild Flower Society, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Illinois College, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank, and the Naples Botanical Garden to conduct the first systematic analysis of its kind regarding seed storage practices for North American native orchid species.