Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Amanda Wu, Ph.D. candidate

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Ph.D. Candidate
University of Missouri – St. Louis

Research Interests
• Species delimitation
• Species complexes

Iván Jiménez, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist
Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development

Research Interests
• Species concepts and delimitations
• Spatial patterns of species diversity and distributions
• Ecological computer modeling

Investigating the nature of a rare oak species, Maple-leaf Oak (Quercus acerifolia) using morphometric data. Wu is a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her research focuses on understanding the nature of oak species (genus Quercus) and their geographic distributions. Jiménez is an Associate Scientist in the Center for Conservation and Sustainable Development. His research program seeks to determine the factors that determine the abundance and distribution of species at various spatial scales. This summer project would like to test whether taxa in a red-oak species complex are phenotypically distinct in sympatry. This complex includes three species taxa: Quercus acerifolia (Maple-leaf Oak), Q. rubra (Northern Red Oak), and Q. shumardii (Shumard Oak) which sometimes occur in sympatry. Maple-leaf Oak occurs only in five mountain ridges in Arkansas and is ranked as an Endangered Species by IUCN, but its status as a separate distinct species has yet to be studied in detail. The student working in this project will participate in a one-week field trip to Arkansas, where they will collect leaf samples for morphological analyses. After the field trip, they will measure morphological traits from the samples and analyze the data to test whether species taxa correspond to distinct morphological groups in sympatry. The student will carry out data analyses using statistical models for species delimitation that incorporate geographic context (normal mixture models, spatial eigenvectors) implemented in the R environment (a broadly used software for statistical analyses). Prior experience with this software is not required, but the student should have a strong inclination to learn the R language and statistical methods. The student participating in this project will have the opportunity of being co-author of a research paper on the nature of Maple-leaf Oak.

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