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Scientific Research

Personal statement from Dr. Joe Clark, Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA

My work in the cloud forests of Golondrinas focuses on documenting the diversity and understanding the evolutionary relationships of the plant family Gesneriaceae. My first expedition to the Golondrinas Reserve was in 1995 while serving as a US Peace Corps Volunteer with the Herbario Nacional de Ecuador. More recently, I returned to Golondrinas while conducting my Ph.D. dissertation research while attending the George Washington University. Currently, I am a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Institution’s US National Museum of Natural History and postdoctoral fellow with Lynn Bohs from the University of Utah.

My research focus is geared towards understanding taxonomic diversity in an evolutionary context. I am interested in species level taxonomy, molecular phylogenetics, and floral diversification. The plant family Gesneriaceae is one of the 15 most abundant plant families in Ecuador and Golondrinas is distinctive because it has many floristic affinities with Colombia. Thus, many of the Gesneriaceae species found in the Golondrinas reserve are unique to Ecuador.

I recently published a new species of Gesneriaceae (Alloplectus oblongicalyx) which is found in the Golondrinas reserve. Many other species from the cloud forests of Golondrinas are new to science and I hope to publish these in the near future with Laurence E. Skog from the Smithsonian Institution’s US National Museum of Natural History.

Another aspect of my research involves understanding floral diversification. I am using molecular sequencing and morphology to understand the evolution of resupinate (upside down) flowers in the plant family Gesneriaceae. Resupinate flowers in the plant family Gesneriaceae are an interesting phenomenon because they have evolved multiple times in closely related lineages (clades). Golondrinas is an ideal place to study to study these flowers because there are over 35 species of Gesneriaceae and because both resupinate and non-resupinate members grow sympatrically.

 

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Fundación Golondrinas es una organizacion no gubernamental sin fines de lucro, fue creada, con el Acuerdo Ministerial. # 213 del 26 de junio 1996-MAG/INEFAN.

© Fundación Golondrinas 2008

(C) 2008 FUNDACION GOLONDRINAS, /Gualupe - Ecuador