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Science, Conservation and Research Review

June 30, 2020

NTBG is a global resource for tropical plant knowledge. The expertise of our dedicated staff spans identifying, documenting, understanding, and conserving the rich diversity of plants and their habitats in the tropics, with particular emphasis on the plants of Hawai’i and the greater Pacific region. To stay informed of NTBG scientific research and conservation news read the research review online, join our mailing list, or become a member.

1. Evolution and classification of figs (Ficus) and their close relatives (Castilleae) united by involucral bracts

Clement WL, Bruun-Lund S, Cohen A, Kjellberg F, Weiblen GD, Rønsted N* (2020). Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, boaa022.

Evolution and classification of figs (Ficus) and their close relatives (Castilleae) united by involucral bracts

Figs and fig wasps are a classic example of an obligate pollination mutualism. With > 800 species, figs (Ficus, Moraceae) are among some of the larger genera of flowering plants while their closest relatives in the Castilleae have much fewer species. However, despite decades of work, we still don’t understand the evolution of the pollination mutualism well.

NTBGs Nina Rønsted and collaborators provide an overview of their classification based on evolutionary relationships and advocate taking a closer look at little known pollination systems in Castilleae to find answers.

2. Applying the zoo model to conservation of threatened exceptional plant species

Jordan Wood, Jonathan D. Ballou, Taylor Callicrate, Jeremie B. Fant, M. Patrick Griffith, Andrea T. Kramer, Robert C. Lacy, Abby Meyer, Sara Sullivan, Kathy Traylor‐Holzer, Seana K. Walsh, Kayri Havens (2020) Conservation Biology.

Applying the zoo model to conservation of threatened exceptional plant species

A paper co-authored by NTBG Conservation Biologist, Seana Walsh, was just published in the journal Conservation Biology. The paper titled ‘Applying the zoo model to conservation of threatened exceptional plant species’ demonstrates to botanic gardens how using zoo‐style studbooks and pedigree management will be transformative for the conservation of exceptional plant species like Brighamia insignia. Read the full paper here.

3. Pacifigeron indivisus (Asteraceae: Astereae), a new species endemic to Rapa, Austral Islands, and a new delimitation of the Celmisia group

Saldivia, P., Wood, K.R., Orlovich, D.A., Lord, J.M. (2020). Phytotaxa.

Pacifigeron indivisus (Asteraceae: Astereae)

In autumn of 2002, a botanical expedition to Rapa (Austral Islands, French Polynesia) was carried out by the National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG), along with the Délégation à la Recherche (Polynésie Française) and the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG).

During the expedition, several new species were discovered including a new member of the extraordinary Rapan endemic genus Pacifigeron (Asteraceae). Recently, staff at the University of Otago (New Zealand) and the NTBG published the description of Pacifigeron indivisus in the prestigious journal Phytotaxa and included a summary on its distribution and abundance, along with the results of a molecular study clarifying its relationship to other members of the Asteraceae.

This publication follows several other new species descriptions discovered during NTBG’s 2002 Rapan Expedition, including a new species of Melicope (Appelhans et al. 2014), a new species of Bidens (Funk & Wood 2014), in addition to a molecular phylogenetic study on the rediscovered endemic Rapan genus Apostates (Baldwin & Wood 2016).

4. Updates from the collaboration between NTBG and the International Center for Tropical Botany at the Kampong

international center for tropical botany

In collaboration with Florida International University, NTBG has established the International Center for Tropical Botany at the Kampong (ICTB) as a center of excellence for research and education in tropical botany.

The building of the new research headquarters for the ICTB at the Kampong is scheduled to begin in August 2020 with anticipated completion in Fall 2021.

Four new faculty members have been hired by FIU to work with the ICTB:

In addition, FIU will be funding a postdoctoral fellow to be co-mentored by Dr. Baraloto and Dr. Rønsted. Following up on a successful joint workshop between in NTBG and ICTB in Miami in this past February, four joint research themes were prioritized focused on:

Multiple collaborative research questions, publications, and funding applications are in progress with seed money from the William R. Kenan Charitable Trust.