Plant biodiversity of tropical Africa - Phylogenetic relationship and morphological variation in the African genus Albuca (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 Albuca comprice somewhere between 20 and 30 species. It is distributed south of Sahara and has a center of diversity in South Africa. There is a lot of complex morphological variation within the genus and it has often been difficult to delimit species in a good way. Attempts have been done to split the genus into subgenera without any consensus reached. Little is known about how the characters vary and if the different character states have evolved one or more times in the evolution of the genus. A study made as a part of a Ph.D. thesis at the Natural History Museum (UiO) indicates that the correlation between morphological variation and phylogeny is weak. This study was, however, mainly based on material from tropical Africa. Fieldwork was done in South Africa late 2014 to complement data from the Ph.D. project. The suggested Master project will build on the previous Ph.D. project, and preliminary additional investigations of the South African material. It will include morphological studies and DNA sequence data to try to elucidate relationships of the species in the genus as well as character evolution.
Main supervisor: Brita Stedje, email@example.com (with collaborators)