The Taxonomy and Evolution of Ferns and Lycophytes Program at BRIT is led by Research Botanist Dr. Alejandra Vasco.
The Program focuses broadly on taxonomy, systematics, and evolution of these two plant lineages. We ask questions about species diversity, evolutionary relationships among taxa, trait evolution using comparative methods, and the role that genes play in plant morphological diversity. Our work, whether on ferns or lycophytes, integrates techniques from several disciplines, including traditional specimen-based research in herbaria, fieldwork, anatomy, phylogenetic systematics, and evolutionary genomics. We are a diverse team with many ongoing projects.
We are interested in what the species of ferns and lycophytes are and where they occur—something often poorly known for tropical species—and the evolutionary relationships among the species. We generate phylogenetic trees based on DNA sequences that show how the species are related and use the trees as a framework for answering questions about character evolution, biogeography, and evolutionary processes.