Félix Forest

Senior Research Leader, Analytical Methods


I lead the Analytical Methods section, which comprises a team of ten laboratory managers and technicians responsible for the operation and maintenance of Kew’s laboratory facilities (molecular, biochemistry, imaging, seed biology). The team is also involved in training staff, student and visitors, supporting the technical aspects of project design and developing and implementing new methodologies.

I am a plant evolutionary biologist with a wide range of interests. I have worked on the molecular systematics of numerous plant families such as Leguminosae, Polygalaceae, Betulaceae, Myrtaceae, Santalaceae and Sapindaceae, but my main current interest is the Iridaceae family, more specifically the species found in the Cape of South Africa and the evolution of pollination syndromes in this group. I am also interested in biogeographical patterns and processes and the factors promoting diversification and speciation. The application of phylogenetics to conservation planning in biodiversity hotspots and the integration of evolutionary approaches in conservation are also topics that I have focused on in recent years.


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc, Univ of Montréal, Canada, 1995
  • MSc, Univ. of Montréal, Canada, 1999
  • PhD, Univ. of Reading, UK, 2004
  • Editorial Board, Kew Bulletin
  • Associate Editor, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society
  • Associate Editor, International Journal of Plant Sciences
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Biogeography
  • Co-Chair, bioGENESIS Scientific Committee
  • Member of the Advisory Group of the Environmental ‘Omics Synthesis (EOS) Centre


Selected publications: 

Forest, F., Moat, J., Baloch, E., Brummitt, N.A., Bachman, S.P., Ickert-Bond, S., Hollingsworth, P.M., Liston, A., Little, D.P., Mathews, S., Rai, H., Rydin, C., Stevenson, D.W., Thomas, P. & Buerki, S. (2018). Gymnosperms on the EDGE. Scientific Reports 8:6053. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-24365-4. Available online

Forest, F., Crandall, K. A., Chase, M. W. & Faith, D. P. (2015). Phylogeny, extinction and conservation: embracing uncertainties in a time of urgency.Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 20140002;http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/370/1662/20140002

Forest, F., Goldblatt, P., Manning, J. C., Baker, D., Colville, J. F., Devey, D. S., Jose, S., Kaye, M. & Buerki, S. (2014). Pollinator shifts as triggers of speciation in painted petal irises (Lapeirousia: Iridaceae). Annals of Botany113: 357-371. Available online

Forest, F., Chase, M. W., Persson, C., Crane, P. R. & Hawkins, J. A. (2007). The role of biotic and abiotic factors in the evolution of ant-dispersal in the milkworth family (Polygalaceae). Evolution 61: 1675–1694. Available online

Forest, F., Grenyer, R., Rouget, M., Davies, T. J., Cowling, R. M., Balmford, A., Faith, D. P., Manning, J. C., Procheş, Ş., van der Bank, M., Reeves, G., Hedderson, T. A. J. & Savolainen, V. (2007). Preserving the evolutionary potential of floras in biodiversity hotspots. Nature 445: 757-760. Available online