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Tribe Rhynchosporeae (ca. 386 spp.; Cyperaceae) has high levels of endemicity (? 44%) in tropical and subtropical American savannas and can provide insights into the diversification of their biotas. Wind pollination, occupation of a savanna habitat, and a C3 photosynthetic pathway are common in the tribe, but showy (presumably insect-pollinated) inflorescences, occupation of forest habitat, and a C4 pathway also occur. We reconstructed a dated phylogenetic hypothesis for 79 taxa, inferring a mean crown-group age of 56 million years. Fitch parsimony infers the most recent common ancestor to have occupied a savanna habitat with eight or more shifts to forest. Features associated with insect pollination-white bracts and spikelets-were shown to evolve six or more times but werenot correlated with the shifts to forest habitat. We found evolutionary correlations in the pairwise comparisons of bract color versus spikelet color and bract positioning versus bract color. Members with anatomies associatedwith C4, photosynthesis though anatomically variable, form a clade with a crown age of 19 million years.
Ever since his childhood in Southeast Asia, William Wayt Thomas has been interested in the natural history of tropical forests. Although he focussed on things that move when he was young, he began to appreciate that plants provide the framework for all other life in a forest. He attended the University of North Carolina and received his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Michigan in 1982. Dr. Thomas is the Elizabeth G. Britton Curator of Botany at The New York Botanical Garden and is also the Executive Director of the Organization for Flora Neotropica. He studies the plant diversity and conservation of the Atlantic coastal forests of northeastern Brazil, especially the forests of the state of Bahia. He is fascinated with species distributions, endemism, and the dynamics of rarity. Thomas also studies the evolution and systematics of the sedge family (Cyperaceae) 111 tropical America, especially the beak-rushes (Rhynchospora). William Wayt Thomas's Author Page
Christopher E. Buddenhagen Christopher E Buddenhagen,'s Author Page
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