5 August 2020
I lead Kew’s Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology Department, which comprises around 50 researchers (plus students and associates) specialising in comparative research on specific lineages and traits to understand the principles that generate and drive plant and fungal diversity. My research spans herbarium, laboratory, gardens and field to explore the diversity and evolution of plants, especially the palm family, an iconic angiosperm family of immense ecological and economic importance. My current interests include 1) fundamental biodiversity research, especially taxonomy, informatics and conservation, 2) phylogenetics applied to systematic and comparative questions and 3) biogeography and rainforest biome evolution. I lead Kew’s Plant and Fungal Trees of Life (PAFTOL) programme, which aims to gather and analyse genomic data for at least one species from each genus of plants and fungi to produce the most extensive and robust tree of life for these groups yet generated.
Strategic Outputs 2020
Output leader for Plant and Fungal Trees of Life
- BA (Hons), Univ. Oxford, 1993
- MSc, Univ. Reading, 1994
- PhD, Univ. Reading, 1997
- Chair, IUCN SSC Palm Specialist Group
Baker, W.J. & J. Dransfield. (2017).
Phytotaxa 305: 61–86.
Baker, W. J. & Couvreur, T. L. P. (2013).
Global biogeography and diversification of palms sheds light on the evolution of tropical lineages. II. Diversification history and origin of regional assemblages.
Journal of Biogeography 40: 286–298.
Couvreur, T. L. P., Forest, F. & Baker, W. J. (2011).
Origin and global diversification patterns of tropical rain forests: inferences from a complete genus-level phylogeny of palms.
BMC Biology 9: 44.
Eiserhardt, W.L., T.L.P Couvreur & W.J. Baker. (2017).
New Phytologist 214: 1408–1422.
Dransfield, J., Uhl, N. W., Asmussen, C. B., Baker, W. J., Harley, M. M. & Lewis, C. E. (2008).
Genera Palmarum – the evolution and classification of palms.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 732 pages Available in the Kew shop.
Plant and Fungal Trees of Life (PAFTOL)
Discovering and disseminating the evolutionary history of all plant and fungal genera.
Darwin Tree of Life
Sequencing the genomes of all eukaryotic species in the British Isles.
Evolution and diversification of the palms and their seed traits
The palm tree-of-life as a key to palm seed conservation. Phylogenomic research in support of the Global Tree Seed Bank project.
Cladogenesis and niche evolution in Madagascan forests
The palms of Madagascar as a window on the evolution of the island's forests.
Global Tree Seed Bank Programme
Conserving some of the world’s rarest, endangered and useful tree and shrub species as well as conducting vital tree conservation research in order to retain a significant resource for humanity.