Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Charlotte M. Taylor, Ph.D.

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Taxonomic review of the genus Hippotis in Peru and Ecuador. Taylor is a specialist in the taxonomy and floristics of the large tropical plant family Rubiaceae (quinine & coffee). Much of the work of a taxonomist is identification of specimens arriving from exploration of poorly known areas, to find what grows there; this is how many new species and new morphological adaptations are discovered. Most Rubiaceae are wild species that have not been studied in detail, and a number of South American species are still new to science. This project will study specimens of tropical Hippotis shrubs from the western Amazon basin, to evaluate how many species are found in this area, what are their characteristics, and how do the species differ in morphology and perhaps habitat. This survey will produce a guide for ecologists and conservationists about these species, and likely one (or more) of them will be new to science. The student will prepare a schematic taxonomic review of this genus in this area to post on the web, map the geographic distributions of the species of Hippotis, and co-author a detailed morphological description and article for any new species discovered through this study. The participating student should have some familiarity with basic botanical terminology and plant structures, through a botany course or other experience, and be willing to work with field notes in various languages (primarily Spanish; no prior language experience required, just an open mind); a little background in geography or ecology is also helpful.

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