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Ecology and Evolutionary Biology pres.

EEB Tuesday Lunch Seminar: Imperiled plants of tropical rivers: Phylogeny, biogeography, and systematics of Podostemaceae

Brad Ruhfel, Collection Manager, U-M Herbarium Division of Vascular Plants, Assistant Research Scientist

Riverweed Riverweed
Please join us for our weekly brown bag lunch seminar

The riverweed family (Podostemaceae) is the largest strictly aquatic family of flowering plants and provides important habitats and food sources for many fishes and aquatic invertebrates. Highly unusual for flowering plants, species grow directly attached to rocks in river-rapids and waterfalls. Podostemaceae species exhibit high phenotypic plasticity and have highly modified growth forms, both of which contribute to taxonomic confusion. Many of the estimated 300 riverweed species are narrowly distributed and incompletely known, and evolutionary relationships within the family are uncertain. Unfortunately, many species are of conservation concern and risk extinction due to the expansion of hydroelectric dams and massive reservoirs. This talk will detail the progress on a collaborative project to better understand the phylogeny, biogeography, and systematics of Podostemaceae. In particular, we aim to better understand the biogeographical history of neotropical riverine organisms and the role that major river capture events during the Cenozoic have played in their distribution. The project includes significant fieldwork, monographic work, and an investigation of the structural organization of the family’s plastid genome. Finally, we are also developing a new online resource designed to broadly disseminate information on the family as well as a new tool for the systematics community to more easily manage monographic data for publication.
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