Qualifications & 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.
- Conservation Genetics of UK Plants
- DNA Extraction from Herbarium Specimens
- DNA Banking of the UK Flora and Mycota: a Resource for Conservation Genetics and Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology
- Establishing a Standard DNA Barcode for Land Plants (project completed 2007)
- Ex Situ Conservation of Threatened UK Bryophytes
- Conservation Genetics of UKOTs Plants
- Population Genetics of UK Orchids
- In Vitro Methods for the Conservation of Endemic Species
- Falkland Islands Native Plants Project - Project completed (2009-2012)
- Turks and Caicos Islands Pine Recovery Programme
Selected Recent Publications
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.
Chester, M., Cowan, R.S., Fay, M.F. & Rich, T.C.G. (2007). Parentage of endemic Sorbus L. (Rosaceae) species in the British Isles: evidence from plastid DNA. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 154: 291–304
Chase, M.W., Cowan, R.S., Hollingsworth, P.M., van den Berg, C., Madriñán, S., Petersen, G., Seberg, O., Jørgsensen, T., Cameron, K.M., Carine, M., Pedersen, N., Hedderson, T.A.J., Conrad, F., Salazar, G.A., Richardson, J.E., Hollingsworth, M.L., Barraclough, T.G., Kelly, L. & Wilkinson, M. (2007). A proposal for a standardised protocol to barcode all land plants. Taxon 56: 295-299
Selected Earlier Publications
Savolainen, V., Cowan, R.S., Vogler, A.P., Roderick, G.K. & Lane, R. (2005). Towards writing the encyclopaedia of life: an introduction to DNA barcoding. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 360: 1805-1811.
Fay, M.F., Cowan, R.S. & Leitch, I.J. (2005). The effects of nuclear DNA content (C-value) on the quality and utility of AFLP fingerprints. Annals of Botany 95: 237-246.
Smith, S.D., Cowan, R.S., Gregg, K.B., Chase, M.W., Maxted, N. & Fay, M.F. (2004). Genetic discontinuities among populations of Cleistes (Orchidaceae, Vanilloideae) in North America. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 145: 87-95.
Nielsen, L.R., Cowan, R.S., Siegismund, H.R., Adsersen, H., Philipp, M. & Fay, M.F. (2003). Morphometric, AFLP and plastid microsatellite variation in populations of Scalesia divisa and S. incisa (Asteraceae) from the Galápagos Islands. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 143: 243-254.
Fay, M.F. & Cowan, R.S. (2001). Plastid microsatellites in Cypripedium calceolus (Orchidaceae): genetic fingerprints from herbarium specimens. Lindleyana 16 (3): 151-156.