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Dr. Alan Weakley

Alan Weakley is a plant taxonomist, community ecologist, and conservationist specializing in the Southeastern United States. He holds a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. from Duke University. He has worked as a botanist and ecologist for the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program and as a regional and chief ecologist for The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe, and currently serves as Director of the UNC-CH Herbarium, a department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden and teaches as adjunct faculty at UNC-Chapel Hill and at the Highlands Biological Station. In the course of his career, he has worked cooperatively with most federal and state land-managing agencies in the southeastern United States.

Alan is the author of the Flora of the Southeastern United States and its app version, FloraQuest, and co-author (with Chris Ludwig and Johnny Townsend) of the Flora of Virginia and the Flora of Virginia App, which have received awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award for Conservation. He is also co-author (with Laura Cotterman and Damon Waitt) of Wildflowers of the Atlantic Southeast. Working with a team of botanists and data scientists across the southeastern United States, Alan is leading a project to complete an enhanced version of the Flora of the Southeastern United States and also develop a series of apps, FloraQuest, covering the 25-state region.

The FloraQuest apps are designed by Alan and the Southeastern Flora Team as a modernized reinvention of “the flora”, designed to present the standard kinds of information usually found in a scientific flora (dichotomous keys, information on habitat, distribution, taxonomy, scientific references) with additional conservation-related information (rarity, conservatism, habitat dependency) and innovative identification tools (graphic keys, diagnostic photos) made possible by digital technology. The goal is to empower biodiversity conservation by a greater diversity of people, including nonprofessionals wanting to contribute through citizen or participatory science.

Alan has authored over 100 journal articles and book chapters and is in high demand as a speaker on plant taxonomy, community classification, and mapping, biogeography, and biodiversity conservation. He is active with the Flora of North America project and the United States National Vegetation Classification and serves as an advisor to the N.C. Natural Heritage Program and N.C. Plant Conservation Program, and is a co-founder of the Carolina Vegetation Survey. As a trustee and board member of public and private conservation granting agencies and foundations, he has helped direct and oversee $400,000,000 of land conservation grants in the Southeastern United States.