Richard B. Primack

Professor, Biology

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PhD, Duke University, 1976

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Professor Richard B. Primack is currently investigating the impact of climate change on the flowering and leafing out times of plants; the spring arrival of birds and the flight times of insects in Massachusetts, Japan, and South Korea; and the potential for ecological mismatches among species caused by climate change. The main geographical focus is… Read more

Professor Richard B. Primack is currently investigating the impact of climate change on the flowering and leafing out times of plants; the spring arrival of birds and the flight times of insects in Massachusetts, Japan, and South Korea; and the potential for ecological mismatches among species caused by climate change. The main geographical focus is Concord, Massachusetts, due to the availability of extensive phenological records kept by Henry David Thoreau and later naturalists. He is using Concord as a living laboratory to determine the effects of climate change species, and land use changes on the population dynamics of native and non-native species. He is also comparing results from Concord with long-term changes at Acadia National Park in Maine. An expanding interest is the variation among species in leafing out times and leaf senescence times, and the physiological control of these processes. An ongoing activity involves producing conservation biology textbooks and working with co-authors to produce textbooks in other languages. In addition, Primack serves as Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Biological Conservation.

In the Media

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  • Early bird special: Spring pops up super early in much of US

    March 1, 2017

    Associated Press Richard Primack, College of Arts and Sciences Spring has sprung early — potentially record early — in much of the United States, bringing celebrations of shorts weather mixed with unease about a climate gone askew… Expert quote: “Crocuses and snowdrops are in full flower in suburban Boston — all exceptionally early because of […]

  • What the Muck of Walden Pond Tells Us About Our Planet

    January 9, 2017

    New York Times Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences In 1845, Henry David Thoreau repaired to a cabin in the woods beside Walden Pond “to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach.”… Expert quote: The Boston University ecologist Richard Primack compared dates […]

  • How a Changing Climate Is Shaping a Leaf Peeper’s Paradise

    November 3, 2016

    New York Times Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences A century ago, the flaming fall foliage in Nova Scotia would have long faded by early November… Expert quote: “In general, peak leaf color in Concord and the surrounding Boston area for these maples is now more typically a week or two later.” View full […]

  • The Impact Of This Year’s Drought On Fall Foliage Season

    October 11, 2016

    WBUR Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences The air is crisp, the sky is a brilliant blue, the Red Sox are battling to stay in the postseason…it’s autumn in New England, no question about it. Expert quote: “It’s very striking because during the height of the drought in July and August and the very […]

  • Drought’s effects mount as dry weather continues

    August 29, 2016

    The Boston Globe Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Trout and other freshwater fish are dying in rivers and streams run low… Expert quote: “What we’re seeing is devastating. Without insects, there are serious consequences for the ecosystem.” View full article

  • July was warmest in 136 years, NASA says

    August 17, 2016

    The Boston Globe Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences In the 136 years scientists have been tracking global temperatures, there has never been a warmer month than this July, according a new NASA report… Expert quote: “There are huge consequences for us as the climate changes. Even if it gets just a little warmer […]

  • Boston University professor notes low water at Walden Pond

    May 15, 2016

    Concord Journal By Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences This spring Walden Pond is low, exceptionally so. Visitors are enjoying the broad expanse of sandy margins around much of the pond; they can walk and play without being confined to the trails and main swimming beach… View full article by expert Richard Primack

  • As temperatures set a high record, Arctic sea ice sets a low one

    March 30, 2016

    Christian Science Monitor Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences The National Snow and Ice Data Center released disturbing information on the state of Arctic sea ice growth on Monday… Expert quote: “This is a very dramatic example of climate change, but it is a manifestation of the same phenomenon that is affecting us.” View […]

  • Warm December brings flowers to Concord

    January 9, 2016

    Concord Journal By Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Record-breaking temperatures triggered a surprising flash of spring for nature throughout Concord this December… View full article by expert Richard Primack

  • Littleton and Westford trees are budding

    December 24, 2015

    Westford Eagle Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Unusually warm temperatures have confused plants, trees and animals across the region… Expert quote: “Forsythia, cherry trees. There’s lots of rhododendron flowers that are open. There’s lots of roses that have blossoms. It’s quite amazing.” View full article

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