Plant Population Factors Focus of Next Science Sunday Program Nov. 7

The question of what influences the size of plant populations, including some in the Arkansas Valley, is the topic for the next Central Colorado Humanist Sunday Science program on Nov. 7.

The program begins at 10 a.m., presented by Dr. F. Leland Russell. It will explore why some species are rare and others abundant, as well as managing species and working to increase populations of endangered species.

The program will examine past and ongoing research in Colorado and Nebraska studying the impact of insect herbivores in limiting populations of the native Platte Thistle, focusing on comparisons of the species’ status at the edge of its range in the Upper Arkansas River Valley to its range center in Nebraska. 

Dr. Russell worked with scientist and Salida Humanist Dr. Svata Louda in her lab at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in post-doctoral research, examining interactions between an exotic, invasive thistle, musk thistle, and the native wavyleaf thistle, both impacted by an exotic weevil introduced as a biological control for musk thistle. 

Russell majored in Biology at Carleton College in Minnesota, and earned a PhD from the Botany Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2005, Russell has been a professor in the Biology Department at Wichita State University with research on the effects of herbivores, both invertebrates and vertebrates, upon plant populations.

The program begins at 10 a.m. with time for questions from the audience after its conclusion. The program can be accessed on the Central Colorado Humanist website: or at  

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