• The National Science Foundation has awarded a $457,530 grant (award # 1050340) to a team of scientists from Florida International University, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the United States Department of Agriculture, Montgomery Botanical Center (MBC) and New York Botanic Garden (Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega, Dr. Alan Meerow, Dr. Patrick Griffith, and Dr. Dennis Stevenson, respectively) to conduct evolutionary and conservation genetics studies of the cycad genus Zamia from the Caribbean Islands. The four Principal Investigators have a solid history of outstanding and productive collaborations, and their institutions have a long tradition of research concerning cycad biology and Caribbean Island plants.
The project will involve: (1) molecular studies coordinated by Dr. Meerow; (2) field work and ex situ conservation, coordinated by Dr. Griffith, in association with MBC cycad biologist Michael Calonje; (3) graduate and undergraduate education coordinated by Dr. Francisco-Ortega; and (4) taxonomy coordinated by Dr. Stevenson. Importantly, the study also has a strong secondary education component that will be carried out in association with the Fairchild Challenge program. The project will be done in close partnership with land managers and scientists from the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas Islands. Image on the right: Dr. Alan Meerow collecting germplasm and DNA samples on the island of North Andros, the Bahamas Archipelago.