Feature article on CONNIE BARLOW's work in
June 2008 ORION Magazine    

"TORREYA STATE PARK perches on the steep, sandy banks of the Apalachicola, where the river twists slowly through the Florida Panhandle toward the Gulf of Mexico. This is one of the most isolated spots in Florida, rich only in plant life and prisons, stupefyingly hot in summer and eerily quiet nearly all year round. Most park visitors are on their way somewhere else, and when Connie Barlow stopped here on a winter day in 1999, she was no exception . . . "


Science Lectures by Connie Barlow



Program #1: "Assisted Migration of Plants in a Time of Global Warming"
or "Deep Time Eyes: Radical Action for Biodiversity Protection in a Time of Global Warming"

The cover story of the February 2007 issue of Conservation Magazine explored the pros and cons of human intervention in helping plants track climate change. The article featured a citizen group, Torreya Guardians, as this group is already engaged in moving this highly endangered conifer to points far north of its so-called "native range" in the Florida panhandle. Connie Barlow founded Torreya Guardians, advocating that Torreya taxifolia was "left behind in near time" in its Ice Age pocket refuge in Florida. Thus, at this point in an interglacial, the tree normally would have migrated to the southern Appalachians. Connie and Paul S. Martin co-authored an advocacy paper proposing "assisted migration" of T. taxifolia in the 2005 issue of Wild Earth magazine. Connie also proposed this intervention for Torreya in her 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution. Torreya taxifolia is thus the poster plant for assisted migration in eastern North America. Subsequent news coverage of Connie's efforts for this tree include: June 2008 ORION Magazine and October 2008 Boston Globe. This is a color digital powerpoint program.

Presented at Highlands Nature Center (Highlands, NC 2006), Selby Botanical Garden (Sarasota, FL 2007) and New College (Sarasota, FL 2007), Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (Milwaukee, WI 2008), Edgewood College (Madison, WI 2008), Converse College (Spartanburg, SC 2008). Click to access Torreya Guardians website; a list of hotlinks to the key articles; and proposed standards for assisted migration.


Program #2: "Rewilding North America: A Deep-Time Perspective"

In August 2005, the journal Nature published a landmark paper by 12 authors (including Josh Donlan, Harry Greene, Paul S. Martin, Dave Foreman, Michael Soule, Joel Berger, and others) that uses a benchmark of 13,000 years ago for wildlife restoration (where feasible) in North America. This means "bringing back" the American cheetah, the American camel, the American plains lion, and American elephants, using proxies from the Old World to re-start their evolution in the New World and to restore their vital roles as shapers of ecological landscapes. Although not an author of this paper, Connie was cited in the 2006 paper, and she has written on this topic (with Pleistocene ecologist Paul Martin) in their own 2005 paper, "Assisted Migration for Torreya Taxifolia" and a pair of papers published in Wild Earth journal in 1999: "Rewilding for Evolution" (by Connie) and "Bring Back the Elephants" (by Paul Martin). This is a color digital powerpoint program.

Presented at Teton Nature Center (Moose, Jackson Hole WY, 2005), Sedona Public Library (Sedona AZ, 2006), Weedon Island Preserve (Tarpon Springs FL, 2007), New College (Sarasota, FL 2007), and University of Florida (Gainesville, 2007). Click for an on-line interview with Connie on this subject.


In July 2008 a citizen group, Torreya Guardians, undertook the first intentional "assisted migration" of an endangered plant. On hand to document this historic conservation action in the mountains of North Carolina were a reporter and a photographer commissioned by Audubon magazine. The citizen group was the first to undertake such an effort because, at the time, scientists were still mired in heated debate, considering the pros and cons of leaping into a new way of thinking about what (and where) would be "native" as climate change accelerated in the decades ahead. Our guest speaker, Connie Barlow, initially advocated assisted migration for the world's most endangered conifer (the Florida Torreya tree) in her 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution. There she proposed that Florida Torreya had been "left behind" in its Ice Age refuge in northern Florida. Its companion tulip trees and hemlocks and sweet gums had been able to disperse back north as the glaciers receded, but Torreya had been unable to do so. Join conservationist and Torreya Guardian founder Connie Barlow for an inside look at the assisted migration controversy: where the concern for biodiversity, native species, and global warming all intersect. (Richly illustrated slide lecture.)


In the fall of 2006, a top science journal published an article coauthored by 12 prominent conservation biologists proposing a shift in the "benchmark" commonly used for restoring lost wildlife to former habitats. Most parklands and wilderness areas in North America will continue to be restored to conditions that prevailed just prior to the arrival of Columbus (the "pre-Columbian" benchmark). But what about rewilding a small portion of America's natural heritage to conditions that prevailed just prior to the first human incursion on the landscape — some 13,000 years ago? If one adopts an "end-Pleistocene" benchmark, then it is time to "bring back" the American cheetah, the American camel, the American plains lion, and American mastodons and mammoths by using proxies from the Old World to re-start their evolution in the New, and to restore their vital roles as shapers of ecological landscapes. Join conservationist and science-writer Connie Barlow for an astonishing look at a radical idea in conservation biology that is already beginning to influence action. (Richly illustrated slide lecture.)


I. Based on Connie's 2001 book, The Ghosts of Evolution and articles excerpted from that book: "Haunting the Wild Avocado" (in Wild Earth magazine, 2000); "Ghost Stories from the Ice Ages" (in Natural History magazine, 2001); and "Anachronistic Fruits and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them" (in Arnoldia magazine, 2001). Also based on her 2005 paper (with Paul S. Martin) in Wild Earth journal: "Assisted Migration for Torreya Taxifolia"

  • "Rewilding Torreya Trees to Appalachia" (presented at Highlands Nature Center, Highlands NC (2006) COLOR POWERPOINT [based on her work with www.TorreyaGuardians.org]
  • "Botanical Ghost Stories from the Ice Ages" (presented at Selby Botanical Gardens, FL, 2003) COLOR
  • "Anachronistic Fruits: Why a Deep Time Perspective is Crucial for Conservation" (at Stanford, Biology Department, 2003) COLOR
  • "The Ghosts of Evolution" (at National Zoo public lecture and Smithsonian research seminar, 2002; also at Brooker Creek Preserve, Tarpon Springs FL, 2007) COLOR
  • "Ghosts of the Ice Age Mammals" (at American Museum of Natural History, 2001; University of Kansas, Zoology, 2002) COLOR
  • "Anachronistic Fruits and the Ghosts Who Haunt Them" (at New York Botanical Garden, 2001; Baker University KS, Biology Dept., 2002) COLOR
  • "The Elder Wisdom of Plants" (at Heartwood Institute, CA, 2002)
  • "The New and Practical Science of Evolutionary Ecology" (at Miami-Dade Community College, 2004; The Gailer School, Burlington VT, 2003) COLOR

    II. Based on Tim Flannery's 2001 book, The Eternal Frontier,
    and Connie's articles in Wild Earth:
    "Goodbye Eternal Frontier" (2002); "Rewilding for Evolution" (1999); "Re-Storying Biodiversity by Way of Science" (1998)

  • "The 65 Million Year Story of the North American Continent" (at John Abbot College and Vanier College in Montreal QC, 2003; at Edgewood College WI, 2002) COLOR
  • "North America Story: Becoming Native to Place" (at University of Wisconsin Arboretum, 2002) COLOR
  • "What Is Native? And How Does a Deep Time Perspective Instruct Us?" (at Northwest Earth Institute in-service training, Portland OR) COLOR
  • "Our North American Story: From T. rex to Today" (at Holy Names College CA, Sophia Center, 2002) COLOR
  • "The Wildlands Project" (at University of Wisconsin Arboretum, 2002)
  • III. Based on Connie's 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science), and as excerpted in UU World, The Humanist, and Wild Earth magazines

  • "The Importance of Deep Time in Environmental Studies" (presented at Warren Wilson College, NC, Environmental Studies, 2002; University of Tennessee Chatanooga, Environmental Studies, 2004)
  • "The Mythic Potential of the Great Story" (at Edgewood College WI, Anthropology, 2002)
  • "Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science" (at University of California Fullerton, Biochemistry Dept.; University of Vermont, Environmental Writers Lecture Series; Rhode Island School of Design, 1998)


  • IV. Micellaneous Presentations

  • "Evolutionary Parables". For creative writing classes, or general science classes writing across the disciplines, as excerpted in EarthLight magazine.
  • "We Are Stardust". For chemistry or general science classes; introductory to technical lectures, with VIDEO and GRAPHICS, that present the scientific story of the creation of chemical elements inside stars. (Presented in workshops for secondary school teachers of independent schools, Columbia SC 2004.) This program is highly recommended for chemistry, astronomy, and earth science classes; download the background documents and charts that Connie uses.
  • "Death Through Deep-Time Eyes" (presented at Stanton College, NJ; What Is Enlightenment? magazine, MA; EarthLight magazine, CA) Draws from mainstream science in 8 disciplines to examine how death, as a material fact, is natural and generative at all levels of reality: from stars and galaxies to cells within developing fetuses. Click here for more details and illustrations of this Death program.

  • CONNIE BARLOW is the author of three popular science books that explore the intersection of evolutionary and ecological sciences with philosophy and religion: Green Space, Green Time (1997 Copernicus); Evolution Extended: Biological Debates on the Meaning of Life (1994 MIT Press); From Gaia to Selfish Genes (1991 MIT Press). Her most recent book, The Ghosts of Evolution (2001 Basic Books), is widely regarded as an important contribution to the field of evolutionary ecology and was the No. 1 "Editor's Choice" among science books at Amazon.com. Connie was a correspondent for Wild Earth, a contributing editor for EarthLight, and has also written for Natural History, Arnoldia, BioScience, and other journals. A warm and unpretentious speaker, Connie offers dynamic powerpoint presentations as a guest lecturer in college science classes and for public or research presentations in major museums and botanical gardens.

    Click to see an annotated list of Popular and Academic Writings by Connie Barlow.

    Scheduling Presentations

    CONNIE BARLOW is happy to present in classroom situations or other small venues at colleges and universities for little or no honorarium if she and her husband, Michael Dowd, have already scheduled a paying event in your city or region.

    To learn when Connie will be in your region, click for our ITINERARY.

    Learn more about us and our work and WORDS OF PRAISE about us from college professors and students.


    WWW www.TheGreatStory.org