Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Dr. Rainer Bussmann and Alyse Kuhlmann

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MBG, William L. Brown Center

Research interests

• Ethnobotany / Economic Botany
• Plant Ecology and Regeneration Ecology
• Systematics (Plukenetieae, Merianeae)
• Seed and Germination Ecology
• Natural Resource Management

Web Page: William L. Brown Center


Alyse Rothrock Kuhlman
MBG, WLBC, Manager DNA Collection and Madagascar Ethnobotany Program

Alyse manages the DNA Bank, which currently holds over 10,000 specimen, Coordinates the Madagascar Ethnobotany program, and organizes the Madagascar ICBG collections in the herbarium.

Project: Use-potential and conservation of tropical mountain forests in Peru and Bolivia: focus on Palm species in Bolivia. Palms (Arecaceae) are a large family of plants with about 2,500 species and are of economic importance to many countries and indigenous peoples of the tropics. They are found in the humid tropics and subtropics and are highly diverse in the Malesian and Neotropical regions but scarce in the African subcontinent. Palms are a major component of tropical ecosystems and occupy many diverse habits. They grow abundantly in wet lowlands, mangrove swamps, along river edges, in the under-storey of rainforests, in high mountainous regions and in secondary forests. They provide important food resources for animals living in these habitats. Indigenous peoples not only hunt these animals that feed on palms, they also use palms for their daily needs. Traditional uses of palms include: leaves for thatching, basketry and weaving, palm trunks for house construction, rattan for making furniture, palm fibers for strong twines, oil from coconuts and oil palms, fermented palm sap and fruits for alcoholic beverages, palm fruits and palm hearts for food, sago starch from the pith of the sago palm and for multiple medicinal purposes. This myriad of palm uses make them among the most exploited of plants on earth by humans.

The WLBC, in cooperation with PALMS—Palm Harvest Impacts in Tropical Forests, a project funded by the Seventh Framework Program of the European Union (see PALMS-FP7) is putting together a series of publications in Spanish on the use of palms among indigenous peoples of Peru and Bolivia. REU student will have the opportunity to work with herbarium collections of ethnobotanically important palm species, learn ethnobotanical investigation methods, and analyze data for publication.

Dr. Rainer Bussmann Dr. Rainer Bussmann
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