Plant Facilities of UC Davis

I am an Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity major and a huge biology nerd with a special passion for herpetology, but before going through the BIS 2C labs – tracing plant evolution from bryophytes through monocots, and studying the adaptations of the miraculous plant world – I had never bothered giving plants much thought. My eyes were opened as a 2nd year when I took BIS 2C. I am now a plant enthusiast almost as much as I am a snake enthusiast, and I credit UC Davis and our incredible plant facilities and collections on campus to sparking my interest. Here are a few of the many plant facilities that UC Davis has to offer.

The Arboretum

Probably the most popular plant exhibit on campus – the Arboretum is a long stretch of gardens, plant collections, and paved walkways along the pond where the North fork of Putah Creek historically flowed. Among their plant collections include the Shields Oak Grove on the West side of the Arboretum, with an astounding diversity of large oak species, and the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove, a perfect spot for a nicely shaded picnic near the Southeast side of campus. The Arboretum is lined with plant collections from around the world, including South American, Mediterranean, South West U.S.A./Mexican, East Asian, and California foothill collections. The Arboretum is open to the public all day, all week, and all year and seasonally holds plant sales. Last year I bought my first carnivorous plant at the Arboretum plant sales!

Plant Conservatory

Most of us are probably aware of the greenhouse on top of the Science Laboratory Building, but have you been inside? Did you know that the Science Lab greenhouse is just the start of what the UC Davis Plant Conservatory has to offer? The Plant Conservatory runs a lot of the campus’s plant propagation needs, including preparing divisions for the Arboretum plant sales. In addition to the Science Lab Building greenhouse, the Conservatory operates several greenhouses with an astounding collection of tropical and arid plants located behind Storer Hall. The greenhouses operated by the Plant Conservatory are open to the public for drop in hours during the day as well as guided tours – check the Center for Plant Diversity website for more information.

Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium

In addition to the Plant Conservatory greenhouses, the Center for Plant Diversity provides a great resource for researchers, amateur plant biologists, or anyone with a curiosity for plant identification. The Herbarium is a repository of over 300,000 preserved plant samples and lengthy species keys managed by UC Davis resident plant identification experts. You can take samples to the Herbarium for accurate identification, free of charge for the first 5 times each year. The Herbarium is now located in the Science Laboratory Building on the first floor, right next to the Biology Academic Success Center!

Other plant resources

The CAES greenhouses, west of campus by the stadium, are available to rent space through a simple google form.

The Plant Conservatory’s controlled environment facilities serve as an incredibly helpful research tool to plant, agriculture, and environmental sciences among others. These state-of-the-art climate controlled chambers are available to rent monthly.

Hopefully attending a school with such a strong reputation in agriculture and plant biology will instill in you an interest for plants like it did me. It’s a great time to start learn how to garden or pick up some interesting house plants. Here are my indoor plants I’ve collected since taking BIS 2C:

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity

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Why Major In Evolution, Ecology & Biodiversity?

When asking students what they like about Biology, most talk about the human body: its physiology, anatomy, metabolism and diseases. Sure, individual health is important and quite fascinating. However, personal well-being is also largely influenced by the environment in which we share with other humans, animals, and plants. This network of interdependence and biodiversity is built upon the foundation of a healthy ecosystem. As we are beginning to see an increasing number of warning signs, our society needs scientists (you) who can understand the big picture and steer us away from catastrophe.

In short, Biodiversity is inclusive of both ecological diversity and species diversity. It would make sense then to say that Biodiversity should be important to us for more than just for an aesthetic reason. Each species of vegetation and each creature has a niche and plays a vital role in the circle of life. Plant, insect, and animal species depend upon one another for necessities like food, shelter, oxygen, and soil enrichment. Many of the processes that result from these interactions offer priceless services for humans for free. In fact, an estimated 40% of world trade is based on biological products or processes!

A discussion of Ecology cannot be had without Evolution, and vice-versa. Evolution results in organisms that are best-suited to survive and reproduce in a given environment. Put it another way, ecological pressures and conditions choose the direction of evolution via natural selection.  How does knowledge of evolution relate to our lives? Not surprisingly, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant organisms is a textbook example of natural selection. Patients infected with a diverse population of bacteria are given an antibiotic that wipes out almost all the bacteria. However, if someone feels better and doesn’t finish the full prescription, bacteria left behind become resistant to the drug. Survivors then become the nuclei of a new, resistant population. Understanding this evolutionary process is an important focus of modern public health due to the increased presence of drug resistant bacteria in our hospitals.

A student working towards getting a Evolution, Ecology and Biodiversity (EEB) degree would have a broad exposure to the fundamentals of biology and chemistry, similar to students in other Biology-related disciplines. The distinction lies in the flexibility of the program in designing a journey uniquely fitted to your needs. EEB students get to explore how biology relates to life processes — an incredibly diverse topic that includes everything from physiological mechanisms to interactions between organisms to the creation and maintenance of ecosystems and diversity. What are you waiting for? Make an appointment with an adviser today and find out more!

Wilson Ng
Peer Adviser, Biology Academic Success Center
B.S. Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Class of 2015