Congratulations Mafe!

Mafe successfully defended her thesis on Thursday! Her work focused on the interactions between ants and there Tococa (Melastomataceae) host plants. Mafe generated, analyzed and interpreted huge amounts of DNA sequence data to determine how these plant insect interactions were effected by the uplift of the Andes.

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Mafe pushed the boundaries back with her research. We are sure she will continue to do the same in the future.

 

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Congratulations Julieth!

Julieth Serrano successfully defended her thesis on Tuesday. The work focused on using herbarium and DNA sequence data to assess patterns in the distribution of Sapotaceae. Julieth is interested in applying this data to practical conservation particularly within Colombia.

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Julieth conducted extensive fieldwork in various parts of Colombia.

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She also immersed herself in Botanics and local culture.

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Congratulations again to Julieth for being such a valued member of our research team.

Solutions for resolving phylogenies in recently evolved groups: a case study in Zingiberaceae

Eugenio Valderrama recently had a paper accepted for publication in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. In it he details how he discovered new phylogenetic markers that are needed to resolve relationships amongst species of the genus Renealmia (Zingiberaceae) that is the only genus in the family native to the neotropics. The markers were designed to be short in length and thus suitable for use on the often degraded DNA that is recovered from herbarium specimens. The genus is also found in Africa and the data will be used to determine whether there are differences in diversification rates between African and neotropical lineages. Click here for a link to the article.

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Renealmia lucida Photo Eugenio Valderrama.

Paramo research featured on Colombia Calling

Colombia Calling is a weekly podcast by Anglo-Canadian expat journalist Richard McColl. The 10th of October presentation (number 204) “Explaining Colombia´s Paramos” featured an interview with researchers at the Rosario University in Bogota who focus some of their work on the paramo ecosystem. The podcast can be heard at Richard’s website http://www.richardmccoll.com/colombia-calling/.

A new species of Begonia from Colombia

Begonia solaniflora Jara is a new species from Colombia’s Eastern Cordillera recently described in the journal Phytotaxa. It is a representative of a section of Begonia that was studied by Adolfo Jara, a student of the University of the Andes who spent six months on an RBGE study visit to work with our Begonia team. Its name refers to the general aspect of the staminate flowers that are reminiscent of Solanum.

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It is known from only two locations and was categorized as critically endangered in the publication. Adolfo continues with his taxonomic work and plans to publish more new species in the near future.

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Photos Adolfo Jara.

Genetic diversity in the Andes

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Maca has recently published an article based on some of her work from her PhD. In the paper, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Alpine Botany, she describes genetic diversity of species in the genus Oreobolus (Cyperaceae) that are distributed from southern South America to the northern Andes. The paper highlights the complex nature of genetic diversity within and amongst species in a group of recently radiated plants that have likely been affected by Pleistocene climatic fluctuations.

A full-text view-only version of the paper can be found at http://rdcu.be/vBkg

Chocolate de Paz

On the 20th of June at 6pm RBGE will screen Chocolate de Paz, a film by Gwen Burnyeat and Pablo Mejía Trujillo.

Chocolate of Peace depicts the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó’s experiences of resistance, via a journey through their processes of organic chocolate production. From the seed to the product, cacao is the narrative thread that takes us through the Community’s stories of violence and resilience, and their fight to remain neutral in the face of the Colombian armed conflict.

This film offers a panorama of hope, proof that despite great difficulties it is possible to sow peace through human and economic relationships. It invites us to rethink our relationship with food, to value the efforts of those who produce it, and to build bridges between the victims of the armed conflict and other sectors of global civil society.

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Producer and co-director Gwen Burnyeat will be present and will participate in a question and answer session following the screening. More information on Gwen´s work can be found at her Colombian blog at Latin America Bureau.

Also check Gwen´s forthcoming book: ‘Chocolate, Politics and Peace-Building: An Ethnography of the Peace Community of San José de Apartadó, Colombia (Palgrave Macmillan 2017).

Ethnographic Documentary ‘Chocolate of Peace’: chocolateofpeace.com

Documental etnográfico ‘Chocolate de Paz’: chocolatedepaz.com

Twitter: @GwenBurnyeat

Twitter: @ChocolatedePaz

Twitter: @rbgeColombia

Congratulations Adolfo…and more new species of Begonia

Adolfo Jara, a student from the University of Los Andes who was co-supervised by James Richardson, recently successfully defended his thesis entitled “Systematics and Biogeography of Begonia section Casparya“.

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Two new species of Begonia were published by Adolfo as part of this work (http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.257.1.6).

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Begonia suaviola Jara, one of Adolfo´s new species, from Serrania de Los Paraguas, Valle del Cauca, Colombia.

Adolfo spent six months at RBGE working on the molecular aspects of his project. In addition to the new species, Adolfo also studied the biogeography and diversification of Begonia in the Andes.

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Congratulations Karina!

More good news! Today Karina passed her viva examination – congratulations Dr Banda-R!

The following is posted on behalf of Toby Pennington

Karina’s research topic was the tropical dry forests in Latin America, which are amongst the world’s most threatened tropical forests.  Less than 10% of their original extent remains in many countries, much less than many rain forests such as Amazonia that remains approximately 80% intact.  Dry forests were the cradle of pre-Colombian civilisation in Latin America, and the source of globally important crops such as maize, beans, peanuts and tomato, but despite this and their widespread destruction, they have been long-overlooked by scientists and conservationists.

Karina’s project started with a focus on the tropical dry forests of Colombia, but expanded to take in the entire area of Latin America and the Caribbean via her role in the Latin American Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest Floristic Network – DRYFLOR, for which she co-ordinated work in Colombia. DRYFLOR includes more than 50 scientists and conservationists and has developed an unprecedented database of dry forest tree species, based upon 1602 inventories across Latin America and the Caribbean. As part of her PhD, Karina led the analyses of this huge dataset for a paper published in the journal Science that show that these dry forests contain a remarkable 6958 species of woody plants. Karina showed that species found in different regions of dry forest are seldom shared, meaning that each contains species growing nowhere else. This conveys a simple but urgent message that numerous protected areas across many countries will be needed to protect the full diversity of dry forests. In the light of probable warmer climates in the tropics, conservation of unique dry forest species that have adaptations to heat and drought should be global priority.

Publishing a paper in Science during a PhD is a remarkable achievement for Karina. Her hope is that these results will provide the scientific framework within which, for the first time, national decision makers can contextualise the significance of their dry forests at a regional and continental scale.

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Karina in her element, the tropical dry forest.

Congratulations Javier!

Javier passed his viva examination today – congratulations Dr Luna-Castro!

Javier studied the phylogeny, taxonomy, floral evolution and biogeographic history of Gesneriaceae and conducted a morphometric study of artificially raised hybrids between species of Streptocarpus. He also participated in RBGE’s floral morphology discussion groups. Javier also contributed greatly to rbgeColombia’s outreach program being an active and enthusiastic contributor including running his own workshops as part of The University of Edinburgh’s Innovative Learning Week (Ancient myths have more to say than western science on Amazonian sustainability?).

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Javier ready to engage in conversation with festival-goers at the 2013 Wickerman Festival. From left to right: Eva, Eugenio and Javier (photo by Suzanne Nairn)