“Tiny Taxa Doing Big Things” — “Itty-bitty” Organisms Are the Focus of Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s 11th Annual Symposium Held Saturday, January 20

The public is invited to join leading biologists in a day-long exploration of “itty-bitty” organisms and their often overlooked yet critical ecological roles at “Tiny Taxa Doing Big Things,” Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s 11th annual symposium. Seven scientists who study tiny plants and creatures each present a talk focused on their area of interest, including lichen, moss, biocrust, flies, ants, and parasites, among others. The symposium is held Saturday, January 20 from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Santa Barbara County Education Office at 4400 Cathedral Oaks Road.

The talks reveal how a “small yet mighty” taxon may have an outsized influence on larger organisms, aid in conservation efforts, and support biodiversity on the planet. Also examined are the relationships between these diverse organisms and how cutting-edge technology is used to study them. The session culminates in a panel discussion about how to help conserve both the “tiny taxa” and the natural world at large.

Advance registration “Tiny Taxa Doing Big Things” is required for both in person and online attendance. Admission is $40 for the public, and $15 for Garden Members and students. A catered lunch is included. Attendance for the virtual-only is free, but registration is required. For a complete schedule of speakers and topics and registration information, please visit https://sbbotanicgarden.org/classes-events/symposium-2024/.

“Sometimes in life, it’s the little things that make all the difference. That’s true in nature, too,” said the Garden’s Director of Conservation, Denise Knapp, Ph.D. “Some of the biggest jobs on the planet are done by the tiniest of organisms. For example, lichens build soil, while bacteria, algae, mosses and more hold it together, then bugs and fungi fertilize and recycle. This tiny world is sometimes beautiful, sometimes bizarre, sometimes disgusting – but always fascinating.”

The winner of this year’s Pritzlaff Conservation Award is world-renowned botanist, lichenologist, and philanthropist Shirley C. Tucker, Ph.D. Unable to attend the Symposium, she is honored at this year’s at this event for her many conservation achievements in California and around the world.

“Tiny Taxa Doing Big Things” is presented by the Nakashima-Rennie Family. Sponsors include Arroyo Seco Construction.

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