The Genus Veronica (speedwells) - In 15 Million Years to New York
Dirk Albach, AG Biodiversität und Evolution der Pflanzen, Institut für Biologie und Umweltwissenschaften, Carl von Ossietzky-Universität
The genus Veronica comprises around 450 species, of which 34 occur in North America. The genus originated approximately 15 million years ago and diversified across most of the world. It includes many species well-known by gardeners as ornamentals but also a abundant weeds. The past 20 years have brought new insights into the evolution of the genus and relationships between the species. Studies investigating DNA, phytochemistry and ultrastructure added to detailed analyses of morphological characters to delimit species better. Based on this we are now better able to determine species and understand the distribution of the species. This is true for the global picture but in my talk I will focus on the species present in New York. Based on my 20+ years of studying the genus as a scientist and naturalist, I will provide information on how to distinguish closely related species but also emphasize our gaps of understanding the differentiation of species. Finally, I will show how everyone can observe interesting aspects of the genetics and evolution of species.
Dr. Dirk Albach studied botany at the University of Bonn (Germany) and Washington State University (Pullman, Washington), where he received his Master of Science in 1998. After that he started his career quest to understand the evolution of the genus Veronica. During his PhD ( finished in 2002) at the University of Vienna (Austria) and the Royal Botanic Garden, Kew (United Kingdom) he has been partly responsible for the splitting of the family Scrophulariaceae and reclassification of Veronica in Plantaginaceae and provided the evidence to classify the hebes (again) in the genus Veronica. He continued his career at the University of Mainz (Germany) as assistant professor before joining the University of Oldenburg i