… I want to go so bad!!!
Above is a figure from one of my collaborator’s papers on the genus Claytonia and relationships among members of the Montieae. In the genus Claytonia, section Claytonia consists primarily of tuberous perennials (the ones I study) with a disjunct distribution between Russia and North America. I’m enthusiastic about the possibility of comparatively observing patterns of evolution in Claytonia across two major continents. This research would monumentally contribute to our understanding of how these plants survived the last 5 million years of Pleistocene climate change (warming and cooling periods). As you can see from my preliminary phylogeny below, some groups that are geographically proximal are not most closely related, the opposite of what would be expected in an isolation-by-distance model! With incorporation of the Russian counterparts into my phylogeny, these data will permit a thorough assessment of the evolution of traits in Claytonia such as perennation structures (e.g., below-ground storage organs).
Russia is considered a ‘black hole’ for research on Claytonia; I can only imagine how much diversity is yet to be discovered and studied given what I’ve observed in my backyard, the mountains of southern California. The way I see it, Claytonia is the black hole!
How can you help? Just like Pam MacKay, Dean Wm. Taylor, and Danea and James Riley have done recently, you can donate directly to my research fund by sending a check of any amount to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. The bonus is, all donations are tax-deductible, so everybody wins. Siberia, here we come!