Stealing the World's Biodiversity
Poaching (illegal harvesting) of wild plants and animals is one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity. Join us to discuss research on two cases of illegal plant and animal trade to and from Asia. Lesley Starke will talk about efforts to monitor and prevent poaching of ginseng root from North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains to meet demands in the traditional Asian medicinal trade. Bryan Stuart will talk about how describing a new species of salamander from Asia has inadvertently led to it facing extinction in the wild from the pet trade, principally in Western countries.
About our Speakers
Lesley Starke is Research Specialist with the Plant Conservation Program in the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. Her work is divided among (1) habitat management on the 22 NC Plant Conservation Preserves to restore and promote North Carolina's imperiled plants in their natural habitats, (2) population monitoring of imperiled plants both on the Preserves and elsewhere in NC, and (3) geospatial analysis to prioritize new preserve locations based on population health, species health, range threats, and recovery goals. Lesley's work with ginseng has been through a Plant Industry Division collaborative program with the National Parks to monitor and mark ginseng plants for the purposes of tracking losses due to poaching, assessing the viability of the species in North Carolina, and assisting with enforcement of anti-poaching laws.
Bryan Stuart  is Curator of Herpetology at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. His research program focuses on the biodiversity, systematics and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. He often travels to Southeast Asia and Central Africa to conduct field research, and he is particularly interested in how DNA can be used to identify species. Stuart has authored numerous publications on amphibians and reptiles in scientific journals, and serves as an Associate Editor for the journals Herpetologica and Copeia. Bryan is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at NC State University and a Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History and the Wildlife Conservation Society.