Science & Conservation

Research at the Gardens identifies and anticipates climate change impacts to plants, developing strategies to protect them in wild and cultivated spaces.

Our Plant Science and Collections team stewards conservation and research initiatives to understand and mitigate climate change-related threats to native plants. Our goal is to conserve the plant biodiversity of the three Level III ecoregions found in Maine: the Northeastern Highlands, Acadian Plains and Hills, and Northeastern Coastal Zone. With a network of conservation and research partners, our collaborative projects shed light on species rarity and imperilment in Maine, identify key ecological factors for species survival, and advance the protection of vulnerable species both in their native habitats and in our conservation collections.

Our Conservation and Research Focus:

  • Plant migration: With our collaborators, we research how best to assist plant species that may face difficulties in rapidly migrating to new environments in a changing climate. Our team also prioritizes conserving genetic diversity of native plant populations reaching the northern periphery, or leading edge, of their ranges in far southern Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. These populations are critically important to the northward expansion of new species into Maine and beyond as the climate warms.
  • Plants of Maine: Our biologists and partners are conducting a conservation and threat assessment for all of Maine’s native plants. Our team is engaged in an in-depth, multi-year study to document the complete modern flora of our MidCoast region and how it is changing in a warming climate. Additionally, we are collaborating on a study of the culture of Maine’s iconic pink lady’s slipper orchid.
  • Plants at risk of becoming endangered: We research and work to conserve plant species that are vulnerable in our ecoregions before they become imperiled. We also prioritize conservation of plants with significant ecological interdepencies in our regions.
  • Plants of climate-imperiled habitats: Conservation research aims to protect plant species that depend specifically on coastal habitats that are imminently vulnerable to climate change and rapidly rising sea level.

Plant Conservation

Plant conservation at the Gardens.


Explore the diverse botanical and horticultural collections at the Gardens.

Our Team

Meet the team performing plant science and expanding collections.

Garden Explorer

Explore our living collections and Gardens Map.

OPALS Library Portal

Explore our library collection.