Plant biodiversity of tropical Africa - Biogeography and biodiversity hotspots of the genus Chlorophytum (Asparagaceae)
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 Chlorophytum comprice about 160 species in Africa south of the Sahara. They cover a wide range of habitats from semi-desert in northern Kenya to very moist forest (rain forest) e.g. in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. A preliminary project based on East African species and using prediction modelling and different measures of biodiversity indicates that the areas of highest diversity often do not coincide with protected areas (national parts etc.). Diversity measures used were total number of species, number of endemic species, morphological/functional diversity and predicted number of species based on distribution modelling. These we calculated for nearly 8000 gird cells and correlation between measures calculated. It is of interest to expand this project to include more of the total distribution area of the genus. The data can also be used for analyses of the biogeographical history of the genus: where did it originate?, has there been any major dispersal events?, how has climate shifts affected distribution and dispersal patterns? This project can be done without any own lab work, but good computer skills are needed.
Main supervisor: Brita Stedje, firstname.lastname@example.org (with collaborators)