AN NSF-PEET SPONSORED RESEARCH PROJECT  
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SYSTEMATICS OF THE DALTONIACEAE

The goals of this project are to reconstruct phylogenetic relationships among an ecologically prominent group of Southern Hemisphere mosses, and to clarify the boundaries among species, their geographic ranges, and their distinguishing features. The Daltoniaceae, which are the focal group for this research, are widespread in tropical and South-Temperate forests of both South America and Australasia. The species are conspicuous components of many Southern Hemisphere ecosystems, where they occur as epiphytes on flowering plants and tree ferns, on soil, and on rotting logs. There are about 14 genera and 215 species in the family, but basic information about their ecology and geographic ranges is still lacking. The current project will provide a multifaceted assessment of biodiversity patterns in the Daltoniaceae, utilizing a range of methodology including laboratory analyses of morphological variation, field studies of ecological relationships, and DNA nucleotide sequence data to resolve population structure and phylogenetic relationships. The research will yield formal taxonomic treatments for these mosses (including illustrations, descriptions, and other tools for identification), plus molecular analyses of genealogical relationships that are crucial to understanding the origin of morphological and ecological diversity in this group. Analyses of molecular phylogenetic information will be employed to infer rates and patterns of diversification and how those patterns relate to ecological and geographical factors. The project will address a broad range of scientific issues using complementary methods that are all directed toward a better understanding of the world's biodiversity and its origins. The Southern Hemisphere has a rich and relatively poorly known flora and many of the distributional patterns found in Daltoniaceae occur in other plant and animal groups. Thus, the application of molecular tools to understanding the geography of biodiversity will be relevant to many other groups. The taxonomic treatments produced by this research provide a basic description of biodiversity patterns and thus form the foundation for all future research by members of the broader scientific community. As a PEET grant, this project is built around a central goal of training young investigators to develop future careers in science, and in particular, in studies of biodiversity. This project impacts favorably on scientific infrastructure by including undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral trainees in all aspects of the work. Intellectual cross stimulation and the development of a positive, collaborative research ethic is an important training component of the project. All information collected during the course of this research will be made freely available on the internet, and will be broadly accessible to the public.

 

 

 

 

 


 
 
WHAT IS THE PEET PROJECT?
The National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with academic institutions, botanical gardens, freshwater and marine institutes, and natural history museums, seeks to enhance and stimulate taxonomic research and help prepare future generations of experts... (click here to learn more about PEET)
WHAT IS A MOSS?
Mosses are small, soft plants that are typically 1-10 cm tall, occasionally more. They commonly grow close together in clumps or mats in damp or shady locations... (click here to learn more about MOSS)
 
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Last Updated: 5 August, 2007 - Designed by Gisela Oliván (golivan@duke.edu)