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vert bar CURRENT RESEARCH at the NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS

Arbutus unedo Phylogeography of Arbutus unedo
Last updated: 12th march 2013

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)

The Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) has a predominantly Mediterranean distribution. The Irish populations are disjunct from the major populations in the Mediterranean, Portugal and Spain. To date we still do not understand where the populations in Ireland have come from. A project currently underway has developed molecular markers that are proving useful in distinguishing European populations and may eventually determine the origins and native status of the Irish populations.
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Phylogeography ForGen – Forest Genetic Resources Research Programme
Last updated: 12th march 2013

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)
Philippe Cubry (National Botanic Gardens)

ForGen is a collaborative research programme involving University College Dublin, Coillte, Teagasc and the National Botanic Gardens. As part of the ForGen programme, we are currently undertaking a number of studies on the phylogeography and genetic diversity of Irish tree species. The target species of the study are Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Birch (Betula spp.) and Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). The programme will also assess levels of genetic variation in other native species such as oak. The results hope to provide useful baseline information to help to improve the forestry sector. As part of the project the NBG have setup and maintain a National Forest Tree DNAbank, which is a store of DNA for future research.
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Phylogeography Phylogeography of Arctic Species
Last updated: 12th march 2013

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)
Evelyn Gallagher (National Botanic Gardens)

Phylogeography is the study of genetic variation within and among species on a landscape scale. For plants, phylogeography involves characterising geographic patterns and assessing routes of migration. Knowing the routes and mechanisms of how plants migrated after the last glacial maximum is of particular relevance due to the impacts of climate change. Gathering more evidence about these migrations is crucial to our understanding of how plants will adapt to current and future climate change. This project looks at the arctic species Saxifraga nivalis.
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Howth Head Hottentot fig control on Howth Head (Carpobrotus edulis)
Last updated: 10th January 2011

Noeleen Smyth, Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens) & Andy Booth (Conservation Services).

Control and eradication of Hottentot fig from Howth Head. The plant has been present at the Needles on Howth since 1962 and in the intervening 47 years it has grown into patches up to 40 metres across – a steady 1 a metre a year. It has often been noted in the literature that after an initial settling in period an invasive plant species reproduces at an exponential rate. In addition numerous smaller patches, as well as its presence on each of the southern headlands (Sutton Dinghy Club, Drumleck Point, Lion’s Head and Baily Lighthouse), demonstrated that it was actively spreading and establishing new colonies on Howth.
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Huperzia selago Conservation and monitoring of legally protected fern allies in Ireland
Last updated: 10 January 2011

Noeleen Smyth (National Botanic Gardens)

A project to document all known records of clubmosses in Ireland and to visit a selected number of sites for detailed monitoring and record colony area, shoot size, habitat description and whether sporing occurs as an indication of population health. Previously the group have been treated as one unit. However, research to date has highlighted that each species is responding differently to environmental pressures with some becoming extremely rare in Ireland.
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Abutilon pitcairnense Conservation of Abutilon pitcairnense
Last updated: 10 January 2011

Noeleen Smyth (National Botanic Gardens)

Abutilon pitcairnense, a highly attractive yellow-flowered member of the Malvaceae from the Pacific island of Pitcairn, is currently extinct in the wild. Its former habitat on the island is under threat from the invasive alien tree Syzygium jambos (Roseapple). Through combining invasive species control, restoration of native vegetation and the proposed reintroduction of Abutilon pitcairnense to various parts of the island, a holistic approach to target species conservation and restoration of its endangered associated habitat will hopefully be achieved.
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Minuartia recurva Biogeography of Irish Arctic-Alpine Caryophyllaceae
Last updated: 3 March 2010

Emma Howard-Williams (NUI Maynooth)
Conor Meade (NUI Maynooth)
Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)
Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens)

A project to determine the postglacial migration routes in Ireland for the species Arenaria ciliata and Minuartia recurva which will be tested using a comparative phylogeographical analysis including a range of Caryophyllaceae (Arenaria norvegica, Silene acaulis, Minuartia verna, M. rubella, M. sedoides and Arenaria serpyllifolia). Read more here ...

Aspen leaf Investigating variation in temperature-related genes in Aspen
Last updated: 19 January 2010

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)
Annelies Pletsers (Trinity College Dublin)
Aspen has a wide longitudinal and latitudinal range, and shows variation in bud-burst timing across this range. This study aims to identify candidate genes related to bud-burst, assessing these for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).
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Encephalartos equatorialis Population genetics and Conservation of Encephalartos equatorialis
Last updated: 12 January 2010

Darach Lupton (National Botanic Gardens)
David Nkwanga (Nature Palace Botanic Gardens, Uganda)
To assess the population genetics and conservation requirements of the endemic Ugandan cycad Encephalartos equatorialis, in order to to ensure the long-term survival of the species in its native habitat through practical plant conservation measures.
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High Nature value tetrads in west County Galway Improving the delivery of advice from conservation ecology to REPS
Last updated: 24 July 2009

Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens)
A methodology has been developed to identify areas of high plant diversity in Ireland. Being able to classify farmland as being of High Nature Value, in an objective manner, will allow the distribution of subsidies aimed at environmental protection to be targeted at the most appropriate farms. A preliminary survey has been undertaken for three counties as examples, and an outline of the next steps required to develop a regional or county scale operational model are being developed.
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Simethis planifolia Conservation status and population genetics of the Kerry Lily
Last updated: 8 January 2009

Darach Lupton (National Botanic Gardens)
The Kerry Lily, Simethis planifolia is a protected species in Ireland, only known from three locations - two in South-West Kerry and one in West Cork. The Irish populations are the most northerly in Europe, and the species is protected under the Flora Protection Order. This project aims to assess the conservation status, and genetic diversity of the species.
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Salix herbacea DNA barcodes – Maples
Last updated: 8 January 2009

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)
To assess the putative DNA barcode regions for their utility in identifying maples in the living collection at the National Botanic Gardens.
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Bryum uliginosum Conservation and monitoring of rare and threatened bryophyte species in Ireland.
Last updated: 5 January 2009

Dr. Noeleen Smyth (Supervisor and project manager) Ms. Christina Campbell (PhD. research student)
Develop a monitoring programme for selected bryophyte populations of dune slack, machair, fen and metal rich grassland species in Ireland; Germination trials of these species; A genetic appraisal of the Irish populations of Petalophyllum ralfsii, Bryum uliginosum, Paludella squarrosa, Leiocolea rutheana var. rutheana, Catascopium nigritum, and Ditrichum cornubicum.
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Floating River Vegetaion Floating River Vegetation – A Review of the Habitat Description and its Distribution in Ireland.
Last updated: 5 January 2009

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens) Deirdre Lynn (National Parks and Wildlife Service).
Assess the current status of Floating River Vegetation (EU Habitat Code 3260); Provide a definition of the habitat in an Irish context; Create a living collection for educational and research purposes; Elaborate on existing keys and field guides for identification of species within the habitat.
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Gunnera tinctoria Eradication of Gunnera tinctoria on Clare Island, Co Mayo.
Last updated: 14 January 2009

Cristina Armstrong (National Botanic Gardens) and Deirdre Cunningham (Mayo County Council) with part funding from the Biodiversity Fund, Heritage Council.
A project to control and eradicate Gunnera tinctoria on Clare Island, based on 3 years of field trials using the herbicide Glyphosate on Achill Island. The distribution of G. tinctoria has been mapped on Clare Island, to know the exact location of each population to be treated, and during 2008 the first eradication measures were undertaken.
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Hydnophytum grandiflorum flowers A revision of the ant-plant genus Hydnophytum.
Last updated: 8 February 2009

Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens) and Camilla Huxley (Oxford University).
Hydnophytum is the largest of the five genera of 'ant-plants' in the Rubiaceae. These plants are almost exclusively epiphytic, and develop chambered tubers at the base of their stems, which act as homes to ants or other creatures - a remarkable symbiotic relationship in which the ant colony gets a home, and leaves behind detritus that helps to feed the plant.
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Island floras Floras of the Irish Isles
Last updated: 8 February 2009

Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens).
A literature survey of Irish island floras revealed a correlation between the log of the island’s area to the log of species richness. These island floras conformed to a regression line, which indicated that with every doubling in area, an Irish island’s floral diversity increases by ca. 3.4 %.
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Meadow plots at Kilmacurragh Kilmacurragh Arboretum Native Meadow Restoration Trials
Last updated: 22 December 2008

Darach Lupton, Seamus O'Brien, Myles Reid, Clare Mullarney and Philip Quested (National Botanic Gardens).
A long term monitoring initiative set up in 2008 to assess the optimal management regime at the Kilmacurragh Arboretum for the restoration of natural meadows.
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Hyoscyamus niger, Henbane, fruiting on Lambay, June 2008 The vascular flora of Lambay
Last updated: 8 February 2009

Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens).
Lambay is an island lying some four kilometres off the east coast of county Dublin. Two previous publications have dealt with the vascular flora of Lambay, in 1883 and 1907. The results of this resurvey demonstrate major changes in the vegetation and species. 309 vascular plant taxa are presently recorded as naturalised on Lambay, 78 previously recorded species were not refound, while 54 taxa have been recorded for the first time.
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Lychnis flos-cuculi, Ragged Robin Assessing the suitability of commercial seed mixes in the restoration of native, species rich meadows in Ireland
Last updated: 22 December 2008

Darach Lupton (National Botanic Gardens) and Marie Dromey (National Parks and Wildlife Service)
To assess the suitability of commercial wild-flower seed mixes for the long-term development and restoration of native Irish meadows; The influence of the soil seed bank and local seed rain; Comparison of genetic diversity within commercial seed suppliers and their wild relatives; develop guidelines regarding the use of wild flower seeds in habitat restoration in Ireland.
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Nepenthes pervillei, N.aristolochioides and N. jamban Phylogeny and biogeography of the genus Nepenthes
Last updated: 8 February 2009

Josef Mullins (Reading University), Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens).
molecular data sets from the chloroplast (trnL – trnF) and nuclear genome (5S-NTS) were analysed to investigate phylogenetic relationships within the family. The two gene trees indicated incongruence of a number of taxa (15 taxa). The analysis suggests a circum-Indian Ocean origin for the genus with a highly conserved and relictual basal clade, and a recent and rapid expansion from New Guinea westwards into South-East Asia. There is no evidence for long-distant dispersal in the genus, and species that do not show hybridogenic orgin are confined to single islands or island grops, whilst taxa of hybrid origin are sometimes remarkably widespread.
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Pandanus field guide A Field Guide to Pandanus in New Guinea, The Bismark Archipelago and the Solomon Islands
Last updated: 8 February 2009

Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens).
Pandanus or screw-pines are large, palm-like spiny monocots found from tropical Africa, though Asia to the Pacific. Their taxonomy is still poorly known, and this field guide will provide descriptions and illustrations to the 74 species known from New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
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Salix herbacea Investigating Rare Willows in Ireland – Remnants of an Arctic Past
Last updated: 8 January 2009

Colin Kelleher (National Botanic Gardens)
To assess the conservation status, ecology, population demographics and genetic diversity of two rare Willow species found in arctic-alpine habitats in Ireland; Salix herbacea and Salix phylicifolia.
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Trichomanes speciosum, Killarney Fern Conservation and monitoring of Killarney fern (Trichomanes speciosum) in Ireland
Last updated: 22 December 2008

Ms. Emer Ni Dhuill (PhD. research student), Noeleen Smyth (National Botanic Gardens, Supervisor), Dr. Steve Waldren, (Trinity College Dublin, Supervisor), Sinead Phelan & Gerry Douglas (Teagasc Research Institute, Malahide Road, Kinsealy, Co. Dublin).
Developing monitoring guidelines relevant for informing reporting structures to the EU under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive; Developing and maintaining long-term ex-situ conservation collections of Killarney fern by devising the best method for propagation; To determine the genetic diversity of all known populations of Killarney fern in Ireland, using DNA fingerprinting techniques (AFLP).
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