Ferns of Colombia: Accelerating Lineage Discovery to Document Neotropical Fern Diversity
ID: 613 / 426
Proposed Symposium Title: Ferns of Colombia: Accelerating Lineage Discovery to Document Neotropical Fern Diversity
Alejandra Vasco1, Weston Testo2, Michael Sundue1,3, Susana Vega4, Sarah Morris2 Lucía Vargas1,5, Kimberlie Sasan1
Affiliations: 1 Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Fort Worth, USA 2 University of Vermont, Burlington, USA 3 Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK 4 Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia 5 Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, USA
With more than 1450 known species, Colombia harbors fern diversity that is unparalleled elsewhere in the Americas. However, fern diversity in Colombia remains poorly known: nearly half of the species in the country have been collected only a handful of times, and most species have never been studied in an evolutionary context. The true richness of Colombia’s fern flora is surely much higher than what is known today — likely there are hundreds of species that remain either unreported for the country or are still awaiting scientific description. The Ferns of Colombia project, funded by the National Science Foundation of the United States, aims to improve our understanding of Colombian fern diversity through collaborative research involving Colombian and international pteridologists. Our research focuses on four key objectives (1) Addressing major gaps in our knowledge of Colombia fern diversity, (2) Generating unified taxonomic resources for the ferns of Colombia, (3) Producing genomic resources for the ferns of Colombia, and (4) Integrating objectives 1-3 to accelerate lineage discovery and taxonomic research on Colombian ferns. Here we present the progress and some of the most exciting results of this project, which include new species discoveries, new species records for the country, identification of hybrids, and assessments of the extinction risk for selected species using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. These results are the products of three field expeditions, visits to herbaria in the United States and Colombia, and the training of both undergraduate and graduate students. Outreach and networking efforts aimed at establishing a community dedicated to the study and conservation of Colombian ferns have played a crucial role in achieving our goals.