• 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

  • Lee BR, TK Miller, C Rosche, Y Yang, JM Heberling, SE Kuebbing, RB Primack. 2022. Wildflower phenological escape differs by continent and spring temperature. NatureCommunications, 13(1), 7157. 
  • Primack RB, AJ Miller-Rushing, TK Miller. 2022. Was Henry David Thoreau a good naturalist? An approach for assessing data from historical natural history records. BioScience 72 (10), 1018-1027.
  • Gallinat AS, ER Ellwood, JM Heberling, AJ Miller‐Rushing, WD Pearse, …RB Primack. 2021 Macrophenology: insights into the broad‐scale patterns, drivers, and consequences of phenology. American Journal of Botany 108 (11), 2112-2126. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1793

  • Miller-Rushing AJ, N Athearn, T Blackford, C Brigham, L Cohen, R Cole-Will, T Edgar, ER Ellwood, N Fisichelli, C Flanagan Pritz, AS Gallinat, A Gibson, A Hubbard, S McLane, K Nydick, RB Primack, S Sachs, PE Super. 2021. COVID-19 pandemic impacts on conservation research, management, and public engagement in US national parks. Biological Conservation 257: 109038. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2021.109038

  • Primack RB, ER Ellwood, AS Gallinat, AJ MillerRushing. 2021. The growing and vital role of botanical gardens in climate change research. New Phytologist 231 (3), 917-932. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17410
  • Sullivan, MJP, …Primack. RB et al. (2020) Long-term thermal sensitivity of Earth’s tropical forests. Science 22 May 2020 doi: 10.1126/science.aaw7578.

  • Rutz, C …Primack, RB et al. (2020) COVID-19 lockdown allows researchers to quantify the effects of human activity on wildlife. Nature Ecology & Evolution doi: 10.1038/s41559-020-1237-z.
  • Sher, AA, Primack, RB (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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