Sometimes the fruit of decades of research manifests in unintended, but delightful, ways. Thomas Marler, a research scientist with the Western Pacific Tropical Research Center (WPTRC) at the University of Guam (UOG), has been studying Guam’s native cycad since the 1990s, long before it was subjected to the threats of non-native specialist insect pests. The accidental introduction of the Asian cycad scale to Guam has decimated the population of this once abundant tree. The uncontrolled tree mortality led to Cycas micronesica being listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2015.
Marler has coordinated seed exchanges and cycad research with the Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) in Miami, Florida, since 1997. The extensive population of cycad trees at MBC is comprised of plants derived from seeds that Marler originally contributed in 1997 and 1998. Marler in 2006 started a germplasm collection of fadang, the seed of the false sago palm (a cycad), on the neighboring island of Tinian. These expansive seed collection efforts, along with that of the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden in Thailand, helped expand the fadang germplasm collections.
For more information about WPTRC research scientists and activities, please visit www.uog.edu/wptrc.
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