Floristic inventories are catalogs of biological
diversity at specific localities. These inventories are compilations of all
historical botanical explorations combined with intensive multiyear collecting
expeditions designed to discover all plants that occur in a particular area. Besides
determining a total number of species for an area, floristic inventories result
in the discovery of new state records, geographical distributions, and species
new to science. Floristic inventories record nonnative species and often track
populations of rare, endemic species.
Vascular Flora of the San Francisco Peaks
Moir compiled more than 800 species records for vascular plants of the San
Francisco Peaks in northern Arizona. These historical collections include
specimens collected by Elbert Little, James Morefield, Jim Rominger, and many NAU
graduate students, including Clark Schaack and Laurie Paulik.
Herbarium staff members are still actively hunting the San Francisco Peaks for
species that have not been found in the past 20 to 80 years to revise the
floristic inventory of the area created by Will, who is now living in northern
California. Vascular Flora of the San Francisco Peaks (3rd ed.), an
online resource, provides the most current inventory of the vascular plants of
the San Francisco Peaks, including life zones, environments, and species list.
Floristic Inventory of the Pinyon-Juniper
Woodlands in the San Francisco Peaks Volcanic Field
Kyle Christie completed a floristic inventory of the pinyon-juniper woodlands in the volcanic field of Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks. He documented
new species to Arizona and Coconino County. Kyle’s research showed that Colorado Plateau
pinyon-juniper woodland is species rich and very different from the pinyin-juniper
woodlands found below the Mogollon Rim. Kyle’s master’s thesis includes an
analysis of floristic regions that have contributed to the Colorado Plateau
pinyon-juniper woodlands and also correlates vegetation communities to the age of
the substrate in the San Francisco Peaks volcanic field. Related publications include
Christie,K. 2008. Vascular flora and floristic analysis of the lower San Francisco Volcanic Field, CoconinoCounty, Arizona. Madroño 55:1–14.
Christie,K. 2009. Phytogeography and floristics of pinyon-juniper woodlands in northernArizona. Western North American Naturalist 69(2):155–164.
Floristic Inventory of Canyon de Chelly
National Monument, Apache County, Arizona
floristic inventory for Canyon de Chelly National Monument was completed by
Glenn Rink as his thesis project. This inventory identified 649 species from 90
families. The Southwest Environmental Information Network, or SEINet, includes the checklist for Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The following article includes a checklist
for the vascular plans of Canyon de Chelly National Monument:
G. 2005. A checklist of the vascular flora of Canyon de Chelly National
Monument, Apache County, Arizona. The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society
Ethnobotany of the San Francisco Peaks
ethnobotanical flora of Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks was documented by Kristin
Kampe in her master’s thesis, which focused on medicinal and ceremonial plants
used by 13 Native American Tribes that find the area sacred. This medicinal
flora provides a comparative analysis of plant usage by these Tribes on the
basis of application as well as by distribution of species.
Henningsen, K., T. Ayers, R. Scott, and P. Hogan. 2011. Medicinal flora of the San Francisco Peaks in norther Arizona: a historical compilation. Journal of the American Herbalists Guild 10(2): 18.22.
Discovery of New Biodiversity
Sometimes botanical research leads to the discovery of
species new to science. Student and
staff members affiliated with the Deaver Herbarium have described new species
that have been discovered as the result of floristic inventories, general
collecting, or while doing revisions and monographs, which are intensive
studies of a single genus of plants.
Deaver Herbarium students have discovered new taxa and varieties of vascular
plants. For example, Suzanne Rhodes, who received an undergraduate degree in
botany from NAU in 1998 and has remained active with the herbarium for the past
15 years, discovered two new taxa while doing field work in northern Arizona.
Suzanne described the new taxa as two different Scutellaria species. Similarly, Robin Taylor described a new
variety of Salvia (Salvia pachyphylla ssp. eremopictus) endemic to northeastern
Arizona. Robin found that most
populations are restricted to Chinle shale substrate that forms the Painted
Desert area near Winslow and Holbrook, Arizona. The following publications
document the discovery of these new taxa and varieties:
Rhodes, S. L., & Ayers, T. J. 2010. Two new taxa of Scutellaria section Resinosa (Lamiaceae) from Northern Arizona. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 4(1):19–26.
Taylor, R. M., & Ayers, T. J. 2006. Systematics of Salvia pachyphylla (Lamiaceae). Madroño 53 (1):11–24.
Understanding the Evolutionary History of Plants
Phylogenetic studies help researchers to understand how
plants are related to each other and how morphology, or the form and structure
of organisms, evolves in response to changing environments or pollinators.
These studies are important to understanding the biogeography, or distribution,
of a species, including where it evolved and how its geographical area has
changed through time.
For example, Deaver Herbarium undergraduate student
Maggie Koopman used DNA sequencing to determine that nectar spurs evolved only
once in the family Campanulaceae and are a significant indicator of
evolutionary relationship within the Mexican
lobeliads. Maggie completed her doctoral degree at the University of Wisconsin
and is now an Associate Professor at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsalanti. The
results of Maggie’s thesis research while an undergraduate at NAU were published in the following article:
Koopman, M. M., & Ayers, T. J. 2005. Nectar spur evolutionin the Mexican lobelias (Campanulaceae: Lobelioideae). American Journal of Botany 92(3): 558–562.
Rare Plant Ecology
Deaver Herbarium staff and students study plants that are
globally rare and of conservation concern. These studies often include collecting ecological data, common
garden experiments, pollination biology, and/or molecular genetics.
As part of her master's thesis research, Meredith Jabis used both a pollination experiment and population genetics to determine that Abronia alpina,
a rare flowering plant, is dependent on insects for both seed production and
the maintenance of genetic diversity. Having completed her master’s degree at
NAU, Meredith is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of
California, Berkeley. The results of her thesis research resulted in the following
Jabis, M. D., Ayers, T. J., & Allan, G. J. 2011. Pollinator-mediated
gene flow fosters genetic variability in a narrow alpine endemic Abronia alpine (Nyctaginaceae). American
Journal of Botany 98:1583–1594.
Elizabeth Johnson helped demonstrate that a federally listed plant, Packera franciscana, endemic to the San Francisco peaks is hybridizing with a lower elevation relative. After completing her master's degree at NAU Elizabeth accepted a position as Collections Manager of the Garrett Herbarium at the University of Utah, Salt Lake.
Johnson, E. and T. Ayers. 2015. Hybridization of a globally rare plant, the San Francisco Peaks Groundsel (Packera franciscana) with a lower elevation congener: evidence from morphometric and molecular data. Southwestern Naturalist 60(1): 56-60.