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Global Patterns and Processes of Plant Diversity

Combining phylogenetic, morphological, geographical and ecological data, global patterns and processes of plant diversity are being disentangled.

We are working on large-scale patterns of biodiversity, combining phylogenetic and community-ecological approaches to understand the uneven distribution of species diversity across the globe. Integrating the human dimension in biodiversity studies, we also look at the factors that promote invasiveness as well the effect of climate change on environment and biodiversity. Correlates of extinction risks are also studied using the same datasets with Red List assessments. The work focuses on monocots, island floras and Africa. The project takes advantages of unique resources held at Kew, such as the World Monocot Checklist or DNA barcoding and DNA banking, and allies experience in this sort of analyses elsewhere (Imperial College London).

Project partners and collaborators


Prof Jonathan Davies (McGill University)


Dr Lynsey McInnes, Prof. Tim Barraclough (Imperial College London)

Dr Neil Brummitt (Natural History Museum, London)


Prof Pam Soltis, Prof Doug Soltis (University of Florida)

Prof Peter Crane (Yale)

South Africa

Prof. Michelle van der Bank (University of Johannesburg)

Dr John Manning, Prof Gideon Smith (South African National Biodiversity Institute)

Project funders


The European Commission


The Leverhulme Trust

Annex material

Key publications 2006-2011

Davies, T.J., Smith, G.F., Bellstedt, D.U., Boatwright, J.S., Bytebier, B., Cowling, R.M., Forest, F., Harmon, L.J., Muasya, A.M., Schrire, B., Steenkamp, Y., Bank, M.V.D. & Savolainen, V. (2011). Extinction risk and diversification are linked in a plant biodiversity hotspot. PLoS Biology 9: e1000620.

Schnitzler, J., Barraclough, T.G., Boatwright, J.S., Goldblatt, P., Manning, J.C., Powell, M.P., Rebelo, T., & Savolainen, V. (2011). Causes of plant diversification in the Cape biodiversity hotspot of South Africa. Syst Biol. 60:343-357.

Schaefer, H., Hardy, O.J., Silva, L., Barraclough, T.G. & Savolainen, V. (2011). Testing Darwin's naturalization hypothesis in the Azores. Ecol. Lett. 14:389-396.

Sauquet, H., Weston, P. H., Anderson, C. J., Barker, N. P., Cantrill, D. L., Mast, A. R. & Savolainen, V. (2009). Contrasted patterns of hyperdiversification in Mediterranean hotspots. PNAS 106: 221-225.

Lahaye, R., van der Bank, M., Bogarin, D., Warner, J., Pupulin, F., Gigot, G., Maurin, O., Duthoit, S., Barraclough, T. G. & Savolainen, V. (2008). DNA barcoding the floras of biodiversity hotspots. PNAS 105: 2923-2928

Project team

Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives

Bill Baker, Rafael Govaerts

Jodrell Laboratory

Mark Chase, Felix FOrest, Paula Rudall, Vincent Savolainen

Science Teams: 
Project Leader: