The Dawn of Ecosystems

by James Boyer, Ph.D.
New York Botanical Garden

Originally presented at the 2021 Annual Fall Conference

Plants began their existence on land nearly 500 million years ago. From humble beginnings, new species and landscapes evolved on the Earth, eventually creating the world we know today. In this talk will take a journey through time exploring the evolution of ecosystems and the plants that define them. From the earliest marshes, to rainforests and swamps, to a drying world with deserts and grasslands, and the recent ice ages with the dawn of the tundra and boreal forests.  

Jamie Boyer, Ph.D. is a botanist, paleontologist, and an educator in the New York City area. He earned a M.Sc. in Plant Biology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, where he reinterpreted some of the earliest trees known from the fossil record. Fossilized stumps of these “Gilboa trees” are a day-drive from the NYC area, located in the Catskill Mountains. Jamie later earned a Ph.D. in Plant Biology from the State University of New York, Binghamton, where he investigated the evolutionary changes in plants during the Silurian and Devonian Periods. Specifically, he used computer modeling approaches to explore the structural changes that occurred during the evolution of the earliest land plants, to understand the origin of new plant structures, such as upright stems, leaves, and roots. Currently, Jamie holds a position at The New York Botanical where he oversees all aspects of the Garden’s student, teacher, teen, family, special needs, service learning, and veteran’s programs.