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I. RESEARCH IN MY LAB
My research relates to the biology, taxonomy and evolution of aquatic flowering plants. I have published on topics ranging from aquatic plant reproductive systems, the spread of invasive aquatic plants, aquatic plant structure, and the taxonomy of water starworts (Callitrichaceae) and riverweeds (Podostemaceae). Over the last several years my research interests have focused on a family of aquatic plants called riverweeds (Podostemaceae). Riverweeds are flowering plants that occur only attached to rocks in river-rapids and waterfalls. One species occurs in eastern North America, whereas about 140 species occur in Mexico, Central America, and South America. The geographic scope of my research over the last few years has been southern Mexico through Central America, Suriname, Venezuela and various regions of Brazil. My research focuses on the biodiversity of riverweeds. Specifically I am interested in gaining answers to the following questions:

  1. How many species of riverweed are there and where do they occur?
  2. How are species related in the tree of life (phylogeny)?
  3. Is the high incidence of endemism (i.e., species occurring in small geographic regions) real?
  4. What elements of natural history (e.g., pollination biology, seed dispersal) influence species distributions?
  5. Which species are in need of conservation?

 

II. OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS
Funding from the National Science Foundation allows me to integrate undergraduate students into my laboratory and field research. Several students have been involved in my research on Podostemaceae. I encourage students to come to talk with me about their possible involvement in my research activities.

III. FIELD STUDIES IN LATIN AMERICA
A. Regions where field studies have taken place.
Photo map of field studies: Regions where field studies have taken place (black dots) and where trips are planned (red squares). Click on map to see detailed image.

B. Specific field trips
1. Brazil, June 2005.

This trip was in collaboration with Dr. Claudia P. Bove, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Dr. Alejandro Novelo R., National University of Mexico (Mexico). Mr. David Gera, an undergraduate student at WCSU also participated in the trip. The purpose of the trip was to survey for species of riverweeds (Podostemaceae) in the state of Tocantins.


Dave Gera collecting plants of Monostylis capillaceae along the Lajeado River. The plants are the brown materials covering most of the rocks that Dave is standing on.



Dave Gera at the Acuba-Vida Waterfall, western part of state of Bahia, Brazil.

Dave Gera (left) and Alejandro Novelo (right) collecting plants of Castelnavia along the Araguaia River.

2. Brazil, August 2006
This trip was in collaboration with Dr. Claudia P. Bove, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Ms. Stephanie Tucci, an undergraduate student at WCSU also participated in the trip. The purpose was to survey for species of riverweeds (Podostemaceae) in the northern and central regions of the state of Tocantins, as well as the adjacent region of the state of Pará. An exploratory trip was also taken to Mato Grosso in the region north of the city of Cuiabá.


Ms. Stephanie Tucci (WCSU undergraduate; LEFT), Dr. Claudia Bove (Federal University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil; CENTER) and Dr. Tom Philbrick (RIGHT) at a collection site along the Araguaia River, Tocantins, Brazil. The reddish to brownish moss-like material covering much of the rocks are dense growth of plants of Castelnavia fimbriata (Podostemaceae).



Ms. Stephanie Tucci crossing the Lontra River (Tocantins, Brazil). Materials in the plastic bag are specimens of a species of Apinagia. Dried plants and fruits of Apinagia are visible on the rock projecting from the water in the upper left corner of the picture.
3. Brazil, October 2008.

4. Costa Rica, March 2006.
This trip was in collaboration with Dr. Garrett E. Crow, University of New Hampshire. Mr. Tom Edson, an undergraduate student at WCSU, also participated in the trip. The purpose was to survey for species of riverweeds (Podostemaceae) in the provinces of Alajuela, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas and San José.


Tom Edson collecting plants of Marathrum foeniculaceum.


Tom Edson (left) and Dr. Garrett Crow (right) taking a break from collecting.

Tom Edson (left) and Dr. Garrett Crow (right) collecting Marathrum foeniculaceum.

5. Mexico, March 2009.

6. Suriname, November 2007.

7. Venezuela, January 2005.


8. Venezuela, January 2007.
This trip was in collaboration with Dr. Carlos Lasso, La Salle Foundation, Caracas, Venezuela. Mr. Tom Edson (WCSU undergraduate) participated in this trip. The trip focused on surveying for riverweed in rivers of the central region of the state of Bolivar.


Dr. Carlos Lasso (left), Dr. Tom Philbrick (center) and Mr. Tom Edson (right) at Saltos Las Palmas, Caura River.



Mr. Tom Edson along the Carrao River.

Dr. Carlos Lasso (blue hat) and two guides collecting fish that occur within the dense growth of riverweeds.

Mr. Tom Edson with capibara at a camp site along the Caura River.


   

 


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