Smithsonian Voices

From the Smithsonian Museums

Benjamin Blonder

Benjamin Blonder is an ecologist focusing on plant response to climate change, past and present. He received his PhD at the University of Arizona and was a Natural Environment Research Council independent research fellow at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford (England). Currently, he is an assistant professor at the University of California at Berkeley in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and previously was assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences. Dr. Blonder also maintains a long-term research program at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory. He is also interested in improving science education through experiential approaches. He co-founded the University of Arizona Sky School, a program that provides inquiry-based outdoor science education to K-12 students throughout the southwest.

Help, a Tapir is Trying to Eat My Leaves! A Month of Plant Ecophysiology in Yasuní

It’s hard being a plant leaf - being eaten is a major risk. In tropical forests, ~10-15% (>70% in some species) of leaf area can be lost via herbivory (Cardenas et al., 2014; Coley & Barone, 1996). Plants may counteract herbivory via resistance, where chemical or mechanical defenses are used to deter herbivores, or resilience, where the effect of unavoidable damage is mitigated (Kursar & Coley, 1996).