• 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 plants, birds and insects; conservation biology; timing of leaf out, leaf senescence, and fruiting; rare plants; noise pollution
  • 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, and the potential for ecological mismatches among species caused by changes in timing. The main geographical 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 currently comparing our results from Concord with long-term changes at Acadia National Park in Maine. At the Arnold Arboretum and an international network of botanical gardens, we investigate variation among over 1600 species in leafing out times, leaf senescence times, and fruiting times and the physiological control of these processes. We compare on the ground observations with similar observations made using remote sensing and drones. A new interest is investigating noise pollution in protected areas. An ongoing activity involves producing conservation biology textbooks and working with co-authors to produce textbooks in other languages. In addition, Richard Primack serves as Editor of the international journal Biological Conservation.

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

  • Heberling JM, McDonough MacKenzie C, Fridley JD, Kalisz S, Primack RB (2019) Phenological mismatch with trees reduces wildflower carbon budgets. Ecology Letters doi: 10.1111/ele.13224.
  • McDonough MacKenzie C, Mittelhauser G, Primack RB, Miller-Rushing AJ (2019) Trails as transects: phenology monitoring across heterogeneous microclimates in Acadia National Park, Maine. Ecosphere doi/10.1002/ecs2.2626.
  • Gallinat AS, Primack RB, et al. (2018) Patterns and predictors of fleshy fruit phenology at five international botanical gardens. American Journal of Botany 105: 1824-1834.
  • Willis CG, Ellwood ER, 
Primack RB, Davis CC, Pearson KD, Gallinat AS et al. (2017) Old plants, new tricks: Phenological research using herbarium specimens. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 32(7): 531-546.
  • Pearse WD, Davis CC, Inouye D, Primack RB, Davies TJ (2017) Measuring the limits of phenology: estimating synchrony and variation in contemporary, historic, and citizen-science datasets. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1: 1876–1882.
  • Primack RB, Gallinat AS (2016) Spring budburst in a changing climate. American Scientist 104: 102-109.
  • Primack RB, Sher AA (2016) An Introduction to Conservation Biology. First Edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. 476 pages. Oxford University Press.
  • Gallinat AS, Primack RB, Wagner DL (2015) Autumn, the neglected season: five crucial topics in autumn phenology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 169-176.
  • Courses Taught:

    • KHC BI 101 Freshman Honors Seminar, Climate Change Biology in Massachusetts: What Would Henry Say.
    • BI 448/648 Conservation Biology

View all profiles