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Richard Olmstead featured in UW News on new research about plant extinction

Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 11:00 to Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 11:00

A new study reveals that 65 plant species have gone extinct in the continental United States and Canada since European settlement, more extinctions than any previous scientific study has ever documented.

Led by Wesley Knapp of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, a group of 16 experts from across the United States — including Richard Olmstead, a University of Washington professor of biology and curator of the UW’s Burke Museum Herbarium — collaborated on this first-of-its-kind project to document the extinct plants of the continental United States and Canada. Their findings were published Aug. 28 in Conservation Biology.

The team found that most plant extinctions occurred in the western United States, where the vegetation was minimally documented before widespread European settlement. Since many extinctions likely occurred before scientists analyzed an area, it is likely the 65 documented extinctions underestimate the actual number of plant species that have been lost. Previous studies documented far fewer plant extinctions on the North American continent.

Read the full article in UW News.

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