Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Dr. Monica Carlsen

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Dr. Monica Carlsen

Research Associate, Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development, MBG

Research Interests

Anthurium (Araceae) systematics, ecology and evolution
• Molecular phylogenetics, spatial distribution modeling and biogeography
• Rapid radiations of species
• Plant species diversity and geographic distribution in tropical regions
• Species richness disparities between sister clades
• Phylogenetic structure of ecological niche preferences

Web Pages: MBG, The Genus Anthurium

Project: The genus Anthurium in northern Central America – morphology, DNA, ecology and evolution. Monica Carlsen is one of the specialists in the Araceae family at MBG. Araceae are a diverse tropical plant family with ca. 3,000 species, highly valuable as ornamental plants and flowers. Her research focuses in understanding the rapid radiation of the species-rich (ca. 900 species) Neotropical genus Anthurium (“flamingo” or “wax flower”), integrating revisionary taxonomical studies, molecular phylogenetics, fossil calibrations and dating, biogeography and species distribution modeling. Several interesting biogeographic patterns have been discovered in Anthurium, one of them involving species restricted to northern Central America (Mexico to Honduras). These species (approx. 60) are divided in two groups (lineages), which differ in terms of diversity, morphology and ecological preferences. The main objective of this project is to perform a detailed study of these species in order to understand the evolutionary history of Anthurium in the area. With the mentor’s guidance, students will learn to morphologically describe Anthurium species, generate molecular data to analyze species relationships, and produce ecological niche models. This is a multidisciplinary project, therefore the student(s) could choose to be involved in all or just some of the following activities: sorting out species of Anthurium, use of herbarium (dried) and living collections, describing basic morphological features of species, developing and using Lucid interactive key technology, DNA extraction, PCR amplification and sequencing, and species distribution modeling using specimen’s collection localities and climatic variables. A maximum of two students could be associated with this project. Student(s) will assist Dr. Carlsen in the preparation of a manuscript and be co-author(s) for a publication based on the results of this project.

Selected Publications

• Carlsen, M. and Croat, T.B. (2013, in press). A molecular phylogeny of the species-rich Neotropical genus Anthurium (Araceae) based on combined chloroplast and nuclear DNA. Systematic Botany.
• Carlsen, M. 2011. Understanding the origin and rapid diversification of the genus Anthurium Schott (Araceae), integrating molecular phylogenetics, morphology and fossils. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Biology, University of Missouri – St. Louis, USA.
• Croat, T.B. and Carlsen, M. 2003. Familia Araceae. Flora del Bajío y regiones adjacentes. Publicaciones del Instituto de Ecología de Michoacán, Mexico. 35 pp.
• Croat, T.B. 1983. A revision of the genus Anthurium (Araceae) of Mexico and Central America. Part I: Mexico and Middle America. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 70(2): 211-417.

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