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Cowan, Robyn S.

Job title: 

Conservation Geneticist

Jodrell Laboratory
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. London, 1993.
  • Council, Systematics Association (2007 – 2009)
  • Chair, Plant Working Group & Scientific Advisory Board, Consortium for the Barcode of Life.(2005 – 2007)

Conservation genetic studies at population and species level.

Main research is in the development and use of molecular techniques to study species delimitations and population dynamics. Much, although not all of this work, is carried out in collaboration with statutory conservation agencies both in the UK and abroad and the resulting data are used to inform Species and Biodiversity Action Plans, applications for protected areas, and ‘on the ground’ management of species.

I have also worked on a research project towards establishing a universal DNA barcode for land plants and am now working on gathering and publishing data on the extraction of DNA from herbarium specimens.

Selected publications: 

Sanchez, M., Ingrouille, M.J., Cowan, R.S., Hamilton, M.A. & Fay, M.F. (2014). Spatial structure and genetic diversity of natural populations of the Caribbean pine, Pinus caribaea var. bahamensis (Pinaceae), in the Bahaman archipelago. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 174: 359–383. doi: 10.1111/boj.12146

Särkinen, T., Staats, M., Richardson, J. E., Cowan, R.S., Bakker, F.T. (2012). How to Open the Treasure Chest? Optimising DNA Extraction from Herbarium. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43808. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043808

Rowntree, J.K., Cowan, R.S., Leggett, M., Ramsay, M.M. & Fay, M.F (2010). Which moss is which? Identification of the threatened moss Orthodontium gracile using molecular and morphological techniques. Conservation Genetics 11: 1033 - 1042.

CBOL Plant Working Group (2009). A DNA barcode for land plants. PNAS 106: 12794-12797.