Adult Programs

ACCA Plant Conservation

Learn how scientists study and take action to conserve plants. Trees and other plants intersect with our lives in so many ways.

Content Detail

Registration has closed for this class. Please contact the registrar at 630-719-2468 or if you have questions about registration.

Learn how scientists study and take action to conserve plants. Trees and other plants intersect with our lives in so many ways. They are the foundations of ecosystems and provide economic, social, cultural, ecological, and medicinal value. But plants are under threat in a rapidly changing world: one in five plants are threatened with extinction, and critical habitats are rapidly disappearing – the once widespread Midwest prairie is 99.9% gone. Why is this happening? What can we do to understand this loss of biodiversity? What tools do we have to assess the status of threatened plant species? What are the key challenges for plants in modern times?

This class will review the major threats to plant species (fragmentation, habitat loss, disease, overharvest, and more) and how biologists make conservation decisions. We’ll discuss the history of plant conservation and the latest practices, tools for study and action, and technology for protecting plant biodiversity. Through readings, discussion, and hands-on investigation with a team of Arboretum scientists and local experts, we will explore the role that biological science and theory play in the conservation and management of imperiled plants. At the end of this course you will:

  • be conversant in the major issues and concepts in plant conservation biology
  • have discussed the perspectives and experiences of a variety of conservation experts
  • have experience with several processes and techniques for conducting conservation assessments
  • be able to critically discuss tools and frontiers in this field.

This course will be held online and in-person. The course will include live (synchronous) lecture and discussion sessions via zoom web conferencing, materials, online learning modules, assignments, and exams housed in the class website at, and in-person laboratory and outdoor learning.


Megan Dunning, Ph.D., manager of adult learning programs and Arboretum Staff


General Biology or Environmental Science are required. At least one of the following: Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, OR Botany is recommended  OR consent of instructor 


4 semester hours (or equivalent), upper-level undergraduate


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