Dr. Jan Washburn on Climate Change and Native Pollinators

Entomologist Dr. Jan Washburn to discuss Climate Change and Native Pollinators

The Redbud Audubon Society is pleased to welcome Entomologist, Dr. Jan Washburn, as guest speaker at its Thursday, March 21, program meeting at the Lower Lake Methodist Church Social Hall starting with refreshments at 7 p.m.

Dr. Washburn, who is retired from UC Berkeley, will discuss the impacts of climate change on native plants and their pollinators, especially in California. Flowering plants and their pollinators have been co-evolving and developing relationships of mutual dependency for over 200,000,000 years.  The majority of flowering plants rely on animals to facilitate pollination, and over 70% of these depend on insects for this pollinator service.

Scientific data clearly show that earth’s climate is changing rapidly as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise. Climate models predict that the earth’s ecosystems will experience higher and more variable temperatures, shifts in rain patterns, and more frequent and more severe storms.

These climate changes will have a profound effect on the seasonal growth and development of native plants and the activity and behavior of pollinators that service them.  Plants living at high altitudes and those with specialized pollination relationships will be most profoundly impacted.  Increased temperatures will displace and eliminate alpine vegetation, increase pollen production among many species, alter the chemical composition of nectars, facilitate invasion of non-native species, and eliminate some pollinator species altogether.


Dr. Jan Washburn grew up in West Virginia where he was collecting insects by the age of three and began rearing butterflies before entering first grade. To this day, he’d always rather be out-of-doors than inside.

After earning a B.S. degree in biology and an M.A. in ecology from the University of Delaware, he moved to California 40 years ago to earn a PhD in entomology from UC Berkeley. After completing his degree, Jan remained on the research faculty at Cal for 24 years.

For ten years he conducted field research at the Hopland Research and Extension Center Now retired, Jan splits his time between homes in Oakland and Comptche. He is an avid naturalist, devoted kayaker, seasoned bird watcher, and aficionado of most all creatures with more than four legs (ticks excepted).  He keeps busy with volunteer work and travel.  Jan has served as a docent for the UC Botanical Gardens in Berkeley for the last 12 years, trained Mendocino and Santa Clara Master Gardeners in entomology for the past 15 years, and has been a trustee on the Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District for 25 years. Dr. Washburn is also a Trustee for the Comptche Land Conservancy