Keys to the flora of the world renown Kimberley region of Western Australia and a bibliographic synopsis
This project will deliver an 800+ page publication providing identification keys to 3,500 vascular plant taxa in north-western Australia. It also includes representative colour photographs, comprehensive bibliographic data, misapplication of names, type citations and synoptic flowering and distribution data. Updating the Flora of the Kimberley Region (Wheeler 1992), which included 2,045 taxa, it includes many ‘phrase-name’ taxa for which there is currently no published identification tool. Nearly a quarter of a century in compilation, this will be an essential tool for identifying plants in north-western Australia.
Funded by an Australian Biological Resources Study Bush Blitz grant.
Cryptic speciation in Arivela (Cleomaceae)
Collaborators: Margaret Byrne, David Coates, Craig Moritz, Kym Ottewell, Kevin Thiele
This project is investigating cryptic speciation in Australian species of Arivela (formerly included in the large genus Cleome; Cleomaceae). It complements phylogenomic studies for a recent ARC Linkage Grant “Phylogenomic assessment of conservation priorities in two biodiversity hotspots: The Pilbara and the Kimberley”. There appears to be a high level of cryptic speciation in several species complexes not identified in the existing Flora of Australia account. Most Australian native species are best placed in the segregate genus Arivela and new combinations have been made (Barrett et al. 2017). However, the unusual C4 species Cleome oxalidea, endemic to the tropical arid zone of Australia, was found to be an isolated lineage, described as a new genus Areocleome. We are currently working with the Genomics of Australian Plants project to sequence the Areocleome genome. Both molecular markers and morphological characters are being used to assess taxonomic limits in the genus.
Funded by an Australian Biological Resources Study grant.
Untangling the sand lilies – taxonomic revision of the genus Corynotheca (Asphodelaceae / Hemerocallidaceae)
Collaborators: Terry Macfarlane, Greg Keighery
The unusual Australian sand lily genus is being revised following the recognition of new species in Western Australia. The taxonomic status of all varieties of Corynotheca micrantha is being re-evaluated. Type specimens have been examined and new descriptions have been prepared for all taxa. Corynotheca has an unusual distribution, with many species in inland Australia, another cluster of species in south-west Western Australia, and an apparent replacement series of species in northern Australia, but it is absent from the east coast and Tasmania.
Facilitated by grants from the Australian Biological Resources Study.
Species boundaries in Erythrophleum (Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae) in Australia
A small genus of about 10 species distributed across Africa to South-east Asia and Australia. Fieldwork in northern Australia has shown that three species should be recognised in Australia. Found from the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, to the tip of Cape York in Queensland, this genus occurs in a wide range of habitats. It has many traditional uses and is an important native timber source in the Northern Territory as it is one of the few species resistant to termites. The core wood is deep red in colour, and very hard, making it excellent for woodworking. On a note of caution, almost all parts of the plant are highly toxic to both people and livestock, and even dust from cut wood can be highly irritating.
Phylogenetics of the Sword sedges (Lepidosperma) and allied genera
Collaborators: Matt Barrett, Jeremy Bruhl, George Plunkett, Mark Wallace, Karen Wilson
One of Australia's largest genera, Lepidosperma is a common component of many ecosystems in southern and eastern Australia (Barrett & Wilson 2012; Barrett 2013). With a few species extending to New Zealand, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Borneo, Malaysia and China, it presents many exciting opportunities to study patterns of biogeography and speciation. With large numbers of undescribed species, the species-level taxonomy of this genus only now being determined. It is estimated that over 200 species are yet to be formally named, most of these from Western Australia. New species are also known from most Australian states.