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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  • Carleton student’s research finds mystery in tree leaves

    September 18, 2014

    Ottawa Citizen Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences In an age when biology means studying molecules, Zoe Panchen has gone into the forest to look at plants — great big ones — and the simple-sounding topic of leaves… Expert quote: “Prior to this study, no one would have suspected that there was so much […]

  • Co-authors gone bad – how to avoid publishing conflicts

    July 10, 2014

    ElsevierConnect Co-written by Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Conservation biology and related areas of science are increasingly collaborative endeavors. For most of us, working in teams can improve the quality of our research by bringing together people with complementary areas of expertise, generating and refining ideas, and writing and revising manuscripts… View full […]

  • Diving into Thoreau’s ‘Walden’

    May 26, 2014

    Boston Globe (subscription required) Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Every age gets the Thoreau it deserves. Since “Walden; or, Life in the Woods” was published in 1854, this crank genius has been alternately held up as our greatest nature writer, the icon of American individualism, the firebrand dissenter, the sage of simplicity, the […]

  • For Northeast, a harsh vision of climate change

    May 7, 2014

    Boston Globe (subscription required) Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences The Northeast is bearing the brunt of climate change in the nation, assaulted by heat waves, torrential rains, and flooding that are the result of human action, according to a federal report released Tuesday… Expert quote: “The report highlights the enormous financial impacts that […]

  • Springing Forward, and Its Consequences

    April 23, 2014

    New York Times Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences This is a busy time of year for Richard B. Primack, a biologist at Boston University. He and his colleagues survey the plants growing around Concord, Mass., recording the first day they send up flowers and leaves… Expert quote:  “It’s just much later compared to our […]

  • Eye on weather: The spring forecast

    March 30, 2014

    WBZ Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Pamela Templer, College of Arts & Sciences From the April Fool’s Blizzard of 1997 to the record floods of May 2006 to the sizzling heat of the 2012 Boston Marathon, we are vulnerable to a veritable potpourri of weather in the spring… View video of experts Richard […]

  • The New Spring, Brought To You By Climate Change, In Five Charts

    March 21, 2014

    Popular Science Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences As the planet warms, the temperatures that trigger spring arrive earlier. But not everything’s adjusting on the same schedule. Flowers open before their insect pollinators come out, and birds return from migration too late to find their usual bug meals… Expert quote: “They’re probably the oldest […]

  • Study: Rockies’ wildflower season 35 days longer from climate change

    March 17, 2014

    Los Angeles Times Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences The Rocky Mountain wildflower season has lengthened by over a month since the 1970s, according to a study published Monday that found climate change is altering the flowering patterns of more species than previously thought… Expert quote: “It is probably the most detailed, long-term data […]

  • These Rare Photos Show 21 Famous Scientists More Chilled Out Than You’ve Ever Seen Them

    February 20, 2014

    Huffington Post Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Do scientists work too hard? The answer to that question is a big fat “yes,” at least if you believe the findings of a study published recently in the journal Biological Conservation. It showed that conservation biologists–and, by extension, scientists in general–tend to devote lots of nights and weekends […]

  • Henry David Thoreau as climatologist

    January 26, 2014

    Boston Globe (subscription required) Richard Primack, College of Arts & Sciences Two new books by academics roundly praise Henry David Thoreau as a pioneering citizen scientist… View full article

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