• Title Professor of Biology
  • Education PhD, Duke University
  • Web Address https://www.rprimacklab.com/
  • Phone 617-353-2454
  • Area of Interest impact of climate change on the phenology plants, birds and insects; conservation biology; noise pollution; ecological and conservation impacts of the pandemic
  • CV

Current Research

Our lab focuses on how climate change affects the flowering, leafing out, fruiting, and leaf senescence times of plants, the migration times of birds and the flight times of insects in Massachusetts. We consider the potential for ecological mismatches among species caused by changes in timing, especially the differences in the sensitivity of trees and wildflowers to spring warming. Our main focus is Concord, Massachusetts, due to the availability of extensive phenological and species abundance records kept by Henry David Thoreau and later naturalists. We are expanding the geographic range of our investigations to Eastern North America, Europe, and East Asia using the perspective provided by herbarium specimens. We are also participating in an international network of botanical gardens investigating variation among herbaceous perennial species in phenology. An additional interest is investigating noise pollution in protected areas and cities. An ongoing activity involves producing conservation biology textbooks and working with co-authors to produce textbooks in other languages. Over the past three years, we have also been investigating the ecological and conservation impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, including its effects of management, research, and education.

Please send an email to Richard Primack if you are interested in graduate studies in his lab.

For popular articles about our work, visit BU News.

The most current source of our activities, including the Conservation Biology Translation Project, can be found on our lab blog.

Selected Publications

  • Gotelli NG, DB Booher, MC Urban, W Ulrich, AV Suarez, DK Skelly, and RB Primack (2023). Estimating species relative abundances from museum records. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 14:431-443.
  • Lee BR, TK Miller, C Rosche, Y Yang, JM Heberling, SE Kuebbing, and RB Primack (2022). Wildflower phenological escape differs by continent and spring temperature. Nature Communications 13:7157.
  • Miller TK, K Pierce, EE Clark Jr, and RB Primack (2023). Wildlife rehabilitation records reveal impacts of anthropogenic activities on wildlife health. Biological Conservation 286:110295.
  • Primack RB, ER Ellwood, AS Gallinat, and AJ Miller‐Rushing (2021). The growing and vital role of botanical gardens in climate change research. New Phytologist 231:917-932.
  • Primack RB, AS Gallinat, ER Ellwood, TM Crimmins, MD Schwartz, MD Staudinger, and AJ Miller-Rushing (2023). Ten best practices for effective phenological research. International Journal of Biometeorology 67:1509-1522.
  • Primack RB, TK Miller, C Terry, E Marin-Spiotta, PH Templer, AA Berhe, EJ Diaz Vallejo, MG Hastings, VJ Magley, A Mattheis, BB Schneider, and RT Barnes (2023). Historically excluded groups in ecology are undervalued and poorly treated. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. doi.org/10.1002/fee.2613.
  • Rutz C, MC Loretto, A Bates, S Davidson, C Duarte, W Jetz, M Johnson, A Kato, R Kays, T Mueller, R Primack, Y Ropert-Coudert, M Tucker, M Wikelski, and F Cagnacci (2020). COVID-19 lockdown allows researchers to quantify the effects of human activity on wildlife. Nature Ecology & Evolution 4:1156-1159.
  • Sher, AA and RB Primack (2019). An Introduction to Conservation Biology. Second Edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. 512 pages. Oxford University Press.

Courses Taught:

  • BI 305 Biology of Plants
  • BI 448/648 Conservation Biology

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