It is widely recognized that humans have had and continue to have profound impacts on species, communities, and ecosystems. Botany researchers help document and interpret these changes by engaging in studies of rare and exotic species, plant communities, and ecosystems through survey, inventory, monitoring, assessment and modeling. KU Botany research generally is focused on three major themes: phylogenetics floristics, and environmental change.
For phylogenetic studies, a major research focus, evolutionary patterns are reconstructed using molecular data, enzymes, morphology, cytology, palynology, reproductive biology, ecology and phytogeography. Building on these studies, we seek to understand the biological and evolutionary processes that give rise to plant diversity. Processes of particular interest are hybridization, polyploidy, isolation, physiology, pollination biology and breeding-mating systems.
- During the past 10 years, KU Botany scientists have carried out field studies in 18 states in the U.S.
- Average more than 8 peer-reviewed, major publications in press or published annually, as well as numerous technical reports and minor publications.
- Research is funded mainly by competitive research grants from federal and state agencies, conservation organizations, and from private gifts through the KU Endowment Association.
- During the past 50 years, KU Botany scientists have accessioned an average of 3,400 specimens annually in support of their research.
Assessing the monophyly of Pensemon sect. Coerulei and P. haydenii, including assessing intra- and interpopulational morphological variation in the species.
Flora of North America Project
Drawing on floristic, systematic and ecological research conducted by KU botanists, the McGregor Herbarium plays an important role in the production of the 30-volume Flora of North America.
Farm Pond Conversion
Nearly 100 farm ponds in northeastern Kansas were part of a study to evaluate potential conversion to wetlands, to provide increased ecological services and watershed functions.
Lichen Flora of the Great Plains
Work on the project has generated approximately 30,000 specimens from throughout the Great Plains and afforded us a basic understanding of the lichen diversity of the region.
Herbarium and field studies of more than 30,000 specimens of Penstemon (Plantaginaceae) were used to produce the first comprehensive descriptions and keys for the 239 species in the U.S. and Canada. Continuing studies examine existing cytological data and morphological analyses.
Digitization of the more than 450,000 specimens in the KU Botany collection is ongoing. Currently, nearly 350,000 records are served to the research community through global biodiversity data portals.
The genus Tolpis (Asteraceae-sunflower family) in the Macaronesian islands is being used as a system for studying evolution and diversification on oceanic islands.