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Coralline Algae and Coral Reefs: Circulating Knowledge about How Plants Make Reefs

October 11, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Register for Free E-tickets


The lecture

Coral reefs are considered to be the “rainforests of the sea” for their immense productivity and species richness. But rainforests’ primary producers are trees, which form the stable structure that makes the habitat for other living organisms. In coral reefs, the name infers that coral—an animal—creates the main habitat structure and sustains the rich underwater ecosystem. The role of algae in forming reef systems is not well-known, though a series of expeditions around the turn of the 20th century began investigating its importance.

In 1899, a year-long Dutch oceanographic expedition, aboard the HM Siboga, traveled to modern day Indonesia to to research the deep sea basins and to conduct “extensive systematic collection” of marine flora and fauna in the region. What they collected was foundational for marine ecology, and marked the beginning of understanding the importance of algae in building and maintaining coral reef ecosystems.  The Linda Hall Library holds the largest collection of the Siboga monographs, the reports published following the expedition, in the United States. The publication of the Siboga monographs about algae relied on a global network of scientists who exchanged specimens and ideas about the ways plants lived on and supported coral reef ecosystems. This talk will explore how these scientists made and circulated knowledge about algae and coral reefs, and why it’s still surprising to think about reef-forming algae.

The speaker

Emily Hutcheson is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in History of Science. She holds an MA in History of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MA in History and Philosophy of Science from Florida State University, and a BA in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University. Her dissertation is on the history of coral reef science traces how reefs came to be seen as living communities between 1880 and 1930, through the work of a self-organized network of scientists.

Admission tickets

The event is free and open to the public; however, e-tickets are required.

If you are unable to attend the lecture in person, you can watch a live broadcast from the Library’s Facebook page or via livestream.com.


Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. The main entrance to the Library grounds is on Cherry Street. The Linda Hall Library is not affiliated with UMKC. Parking in all UMKC lots is by permit or meter.


October 11
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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Linda Hall Library


Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry Street
Kansas City, MO 64110 United States
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Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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