The primary emphasis of our research is the interface of systematics, evolutionary biology and biogeography. We utilize a broad range of experimental data in investigating taxonomic relationships, phylogenetic patterns, modes of speciation, hybridization, and biogeography among flowering plants. Our taxonomic interest is centered in the "family" formerly known as the snapdragon family (Scrophulariaceae), but studies also have involved groups in the Asteraceae, Capparaceae, Lamiaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Malvaceae.
Representative projects include the following: ITS sequence variation among climbing snapdragons; Phylogeny and biogeography of butterfly bushes (Buddlejaceae s. str.) based on trnL-F sequence variation; Evolution and historical biogeography of California island endemics and disjuncts; Molecular approaches to elucidating polyploid evolution in turtleheads (genus Chelone); Phylogeography of the Linaria canadensis complex in the southeastern USA; and taxonomic revisions of Gambelia, Galvezia, and Chelone in the Scrophulariaceae. Molecular and morphological data are juxtaposed generally to test hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships, character evolution, and historical biogeography. Studies at several taxonomic levels are in progress, although the primary focus of our research is at the generic and species levels. Fieldwork is usually a critical component of investigations; field studies have been undertaken throughout the United States as well as in South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
|Galvezia leucantha growing on volcanic cliffs in the Galapagos Islands||Character intermediacy in a F1 hybrid (center) produced from a cross between Lophospermum erubescens (left) and Mabrya geniculata||Floral diversity in subtribe Maurandyinae (Scrophulariaceae)|
For more information about this program, contact the Department or Dr. Wayne Elisens.