Dr Ken Thompson

Emeritus, University of Sheffield, UK; ken.thompson@sheffield.ac.uk

Title: Do seeds really matter?

Abstract: Well, yes, of course they do. I’ve spent much of my career attempting to show that they do, and I like to think that I’ve quite often succeeded. But much depends on what we mean by ‘matter’, and sometimes, seeds don’t matter quite as much as we think they do. So I would like to share with you a few examples of where seeds don’t seem to be as important as we assume, or where the functions of ‘obvious’ features of seed biology turn out to be far from obvious. In every case, I think the outcome is a deeper insight into why seeds really do matter.

Biography: Ken THOMPSON is a senior editor of the British Ecological Society journal Functional Ecology, and was for 20 years an editor of Seed Science Research. He is the author (with Jan Bakker and Renée Bekker) of ‘The Soil Seed Banks of North-West Europe: Methodology, Density and Longevity’ (1997, Cambridge University Press) and (with Mike Fenner) of ‘The Ecology of Seeds’ (2005, Cambridge University Press); and has published 160 papers in refereed journals. He writes and lectures extensively and has written seven books on gardening and popular science; his latest book, containing his collected gardening columns from the Daily Telegraph, was published in 2015. Ken lived and worked in Sheffield from 1990 to 2016; he recently moved to Devon. In 2016 he was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Veitch Memorial Medal for his contribution to the advancement and improvement of the science and practice of horticulture.