4 January 2019
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)
More new rattans from New Guinea and the Solomon Islands (Calamus, Arecaceae)
Phytotaxa 305: 61–86
Baker, W. J. and 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 Available online
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. Available online
Eiserhardt, W.L., T.L.P Couvreur & W.J. Baker. (2017)
Plant phylogeny as a window on the evolution of hyperdiversity in the tropical rainforest biome
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 Buy from Kew books
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.
Southeast Asian forests: past, present, and future
Establishing a genomic library for Southeast Asian trees for biodiversity analysis, conservation, and timber authentication.
Cladogenesis and niche evolution in Madagascan forests
The palms of Madagascar as a window on the evolution of the island's forests.