28 April 2009

Herald-Tribune Article on the Vidaver Expedition

I was interviewed last week by Jack McClintock, a correspondent for the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Jack is a freelance journalist, specializing in science writing. His articles have been published in various places including Discover Magazine.

You can read his article on the up-coming Vidaver Expedition at the Herald-Tribune's website:

Selby Botanist to Brave Jungle to Find Flowers

22 April 2009

Background Info on the Solomon Islands

22 April 2009 (10 days until departure)

The Solomon Islands, located at 9° 41.25'S 160° 13.00' E, are a group of oceanic islands that were formed about 25 million years ago. There are over 900 islands that make up the archepelagio, Guadalcanal being the largest. The Solomons are known as outer-arc islands - the islands were formed from the collision between two (or more) tectonic plates resulting in the upheaval of land. The region is known as the Andesite Line. Unlike continents and continental islands (chunks of land broken off from continents such as New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea), the Solomons are thought to be true oceanic islands that have always been separated by water from other neighboring landmasses.

The fact that the Solomon have been separated throughout their history is of great importance in understanding how and why species evolve on islands. Plants, such as the gesneriads I study, had to have made it to the Solomons by some means of dispersal. The question is how did new species form because of or following this dispersal and how did this lead to the great diversity we see in the Solomons and other oceanic islands of the Pacific? One main goal of the Vidaver Expedition is to collect plant specimens to further study this phenomenon.


20 April 2009

Announcing the Dr. Anne Vidaver Expedition to the Solomon Islands, 2 May – 26 June, 2009

(Sarasota, FL – April 20, 2009): As part of on-going work at the Gesneriad Research Center, Dr. John R. Clark of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, will conduct an expedition to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific from May 2 – June 26, 2009. The expedition is generously funded by Dr. Anne Vidaver, an ardent supporter of research on the gesneriad plant family.

The Solomon Islands, located northeast of Australia and east of Papua New Guinea, is a biologically-rich part of the world representing some of the last large tracts of lowland and mountain island forest in the world. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the biodiversity of the Solomons is greatly threatened by deforestation for logging and subsistence agriculture.

Dr. Clark, along with collaborators from the Ministry of Environment, Solomon Islands, and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, will be conducting plant diversity studies in this poorly-known and increasingly threatened part of the world. Specimens and data collected during this expedition will be used for inventory, classification and conservation efforts. To learn more about the Vidaver Expedition and to follow Dr. Clark’s progress go to http://gesneriadresearchcenter.blogspot.com.

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is a respected center for research and education as well as a famous orchid showplace. The Gardens is located at 900 South Palm Avenue in Sarasota, Florida. It is open to the public daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the exception of Christmas day. For further information call (941) 366-5731 or visit www.selby.org.

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