We are studying the genetic, morphological, and ecological evolution of Zingiberales over geologic time scales. The order Zingiberales is a diverse group of economically and ecologically important tropical plants including bananas, gingers, bird-of-paradise, and canna lilies. Morphological data from living and fossil species will be combined with DNA sequence and plastome data to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among species and the timing of important evolutionary events. The geographical distribution of living and fossil species and changes in their ecology through time will then be examined to understand how these plants have adapted to different regions and climates through time.
The integration of multiple lines of evidence from both fossil and modern data is needed in order to understand evolutionary drivers and responses, current and historic biodiversity, and how modern ecosystems have been formed; all of which give us insight to the current patterns of biodiversity and the ability to predict future evolutionary patterns and ecosystem processes. The Zingiberales serve as a model for this type of study due to their ecological importance today and the presence of an extensive fossil record. In addition, because they are tropical and subtropical plants, they will help us understand the biology of a warming world.
This website will serve as a place to receive updates, news, and data related to the project. Enjoy!