Natural History of Tropical Plants J.E....

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Natural History of Tropical Plants J.E. Richardson

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  • Natural History of Tropical Plants

    J.E. Richardson

  • Universidad del Rosario

    Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Matematicas

    Historia Natural de Plantas Tropicales

    Describing plant diversity

    Determine why Colombia is so diverse

    Historical reconstructions in each of Colombia’s biomes

    How have groups of species adapted to historical changes in geology and climate?

    How might they adapt to future change?


  • Herrania kanukuensisGlossostemon bruguieriGuazuma ulmifolia

    Theobroma grandiflorum

    Theobroma cacaoTheobroma cacao

    Theobroma simiarum

    Herrania purpureaTheobroma bicolor

    Guazuma ulmifolia

    Tribe Theobromeae - Malvaceae

    Theobroma – 22 species, neotropics

    Herrania – 20 species, neotropics

    Guazuma – 2-5 species, neotropics

    Glossostemon – one species, Saudi Arabia, Oman

  • The Age of Chocolate – a diversification history of Theobroma and Malvaceae

    Richardson, Whitlock, Meerow & Madriñán

    Chocolate is c. 10 million years old

  • Fedecacao identify major problems

    Advanced age of plantations

    Lack of variety of cultivated material (low resistance to pests and diseases)

    Low density of trees per hectare

    Poor comprehensive crop management strategy

    Witches Broom (Moniliophthora perniciosa) and frosty pod rot or moniliasis disease

    (Moniliophthora rorei)

    A need to ensure long term sustainability from the risks posed by climate change

    Excessive cadmium accumulation

  • Possible projects

    1. Evolution of Theobroma and Herrania

    • Phylogeny of all species• Determine optimal areas for plantations based on existing distributions and climatic

    envelopes that could be applied to future climate change scenarios

    2. Develop molecular markers to screen for disease resistance and novel flavour profiles in existing and potentially new cultivars

    • Search for markers in varieties that are resistant• Screen native populations for resistance

    • Screen for cadmium accumulation

    3. The genetic architecture of drought resistance

    • Compare expression of genes in Guazuma, Glossostemon, Herrania and Theobroma under natural conditions

    • Compare expression of genes under water stress conditions

    4. Cacao economics

  • Photos: Santiago Madriñán

  • Páramo has fastest diversification rate

  • Climate change and spatial distribution of vegetation in Colombia

    Juan Carlos Alarcón Hincapié & José Daniel Pabón Caicedo, Colombia Forestal 2013

    Worst case scenario

    Páramo gone by mid-century

  • Water Towers of South America

  • Most Recent Projects

    Agrodiversity project advisor on a 6.5 million pound GCRF funded international

    consortium led by the Earlham Institute

    Project partner (University of Exeter) - “BioResilience: Biodiversity resilience and

    ecosystem services in post-conflict socio-ecological systems in Colombia”

    • evaluate drivers and factors affecting forest dynamics and resilience

    • deliver estimates of C fluxes associated with forest degradation and recovery

    • manage and improve the provision of ecosystem services

    • plan REDD+ activities and inform climate and conservation policy

    Project partner (University of York) - “Integrating ecological and cultural histories to

    inform sustainable and equitable futures for the Colombian páramos”

    • examine the socio-ecological system of páramo habitat

    • determine the value of biodiversity in this system

    • predict response of páramo ecosystems to environmental change and anthropogenic

    pressures to inform the development of a sustainable and equitable future for the

    páramos, and for the communities dependent on these ecosystems

    Principal Investigator on a British Council project to monitor and recensus an

    ecological plot network throughout Colombia – includes DNA barcoding component