Taxonomy, biogeography, and sectional boundaries of the tropical blueberries (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae) of Malesia
ID: 613 / 294
Proposed Symposium Title: Taxonomy, biogeography, and sectional boundaries of the tropical blueberries (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae) of Malesia
Maverick N. Tamayo1*, Wendy A. Mustaqim2, John D. Horner1, Matthew C. Hale1, Peter W. Fritsch3
Affiliations: 1 Department of Biology, College of Science and Engineering, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, USA 2 Program Studi Biologi, Fakultas Teknik, Universitas Samudra, Langsa, Indonesia 3 Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, USA
The tribe Vaccinieae (Ericaceae) is a large group of more than 1000 species mostly found in the tropics, and a third of which are found in Malesia. Vaccinium is the largest genus of Vaccinieae in Malesia, comprising ca. 250 species, more than half of which are endemic to the island of New Guinea. Malesian species of Vaccinium are mainly adapted to high-elevation zones, exposed mountain ridges and peaks, montane mossy rain forests, nutrient poor habitats, and rarely littoral areas. They are often rare in the wild; hence, few studies on its taxonomy have been conducted in Malesia. A revision was included in the account for Ericaceae in the Flora Malesiana. However, limited specimen availability and utilization of ambiguous and poorly defined morphological characters hindered resolution of many species complexes. Moreover, sectional boundaries of Malesian Vaccinium are poorly defined, and the morphological characters overlap with those of other sections, thus limiting their utility. Furthermore, a comprehensive phylogeny for the Malesian Vaccinium is lacking. A preliminary phylogenetic analysis of Ericaceae reveals that Vaccinium is non-monophyletic, with the genera Agapetes and Rigiolepis nested within it. We present recent findings from field and herbarium work helping to clarify the systematics and evolution of Malesian Vaccinieae. A taxonomic revision of Philippine Vaccinium has resulted in the discovery of 11 new species, three new island records, rediscoveries, and clarification of species complexes. In Indonesia, we have discovered a new species and a variety of Vaccinium, including three new species of Rigiolepis. We provide assessment of the morphological basis for the sectional boundaries of Malesian Vaccinium in the context of ongoing molecular analysis. The biogeography, distribution, and morphological distinctions among Agapetes, Rigiolepis, and Vaccinium will be discussed.