Plant biodiversity of tropical Africa - Phylogenetic relationships and phylogeographical patterns in the African genus Drimiopsis (Asparagaceae, subfamily Scilloidea )
Master projects under this “umbrella” will be a part of a five year collaboration project between researchers at Natural History Museum and partner universities in Ethipoia, Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The project started in 2017 and its main aim is to strengthen the education at all partner institutions by two-way mobility of students and researchers. Norwegian students will have the opportunity to go to partner institutions/countries to take do fieldwork, take courses and/or getting supervision from local co-supervisors. Several master projects are suggested by partners, all within the frame of plant biodiversity. They will most often have their foundation in plant systematics (phylogeny and evolution), but may also include aspects as biogeography, distribution modelling, ecology and ethnobotany (“plant use”). Nearly all projects include both own fieldwork and labwork (DNA methods). Some can be carried out without labwork. It is also possible to define projects based on already collected material where own fieldwork is not necessary. In addition to the projects outlined below we are open to discuss projects based on other plant groups and/or any special interest of the student.
Stedje/Bjorå research group
The genus Drimiopsis comprice about 20 species and is distributed in Africa south of Sahara. It has a disjunct distribution with centres of diversity in South and East Africa, with South Africa having the highest number of species. Previous phylogenetic studies based on DNA sequence data indicate that the genus comes out as a monophyletic group within the paraphyletic genus Ledebouria. The sampling in this studies has, however been biased towards tropical Africa and few DNA regions have been sequenced. These data do not allow a discussion of the nature and the significance of the distribution pattern observed. To fill this gap fieldwork new material was collected in South Africa in 2014 to get a more complete representation of species. The suggested Master project will build on earlier works and include DNA sequence data (and morphological data) for more species and regions to try to elucidate the disjunct distribution pattern observed. Distribution modelling may also be used as a tool. It is also possible to dig deeper into systematics and the delimitation of species. We have material that may represent undescribed species and an important task may be to find out if this material represents species that are new to science. This project is particularly suited for sharing between two students.
Main supervisor: Brita Stedje, firstname.lastname@example.org (with collaborators)