Plant Systematics, Conservation Biology, and Ethnobotany


Charlotte M. Taylor, Ph.D.

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Charlotte M. Taylor, Ph.D.

Research - Science & Conservation Division

Research Interests

• Systematics and evolution of the family Rubiaceae

How do Related Plant Species Manage to Live Together? Taylor is a specialist in the taxonomy and floristics of the large tropical plant family Rubiaceae (quinine & coffee). Related organisms are generally similar in their habitat preferences, pollination modes, fruit dispersers, and other factors, and they generally are thought to occupy more similar niches due to these similarities than to unrelated species. Plant species that live together interact in a number of different ways, including competition for resources, pollinators, and dispersers. And, the more similar their niches, the more we hypothesize they compete and can potentially reduce the success of each other. In tropical vegetation, the species diversity is often high and includes a number of related species. How do they manage to co-exist? This project will look at species of the genus Palicourea in the Rubiaceae family, which are common in many places in Central and South America. A dozen or more species are generally found in the same place, and these differ from each other in many aspects including the size and form of the plants; flower color, flower size, timing of flowering, and other factors related to pollination; and fruit color, size, timing, and other factors related to dispersal. This project will analyze some of the flowering characteristics of sets of species that grow together to look for patterns of differences, or similarities. The study data will be floras of selected field stations, to identify the Palicourea species that grow together; published descriptions, herbarium specimens, and photos to compile information for selected flower characters; and herbarium specimens to compile information on phenology and elevational range. The data will be analyzed by graphing and possibly some statistical analyses.

| Categories: Plant Systematics | Tags: Systematics and Evolution of the Family Rubiaceae | Return