On August 8, 2013, Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum from the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, Australia described the historical and modern day patterns that have resulted in the living biological diversity of cycads and ferns.

Cycads have been long thought of as “living fossils” but molecular clock analysis reveals strikingly young ages. Despite their recent origins, much of cycad diversity is at risk of extinction. Nathalie described future projects planned to address this issue through conservation genetics.

Ferns have a wide range of habitat preferences and are widely distributed, thus they are an ideal group for understanding how diversity is distributed. Using Australia as a study region she has analyzed patterns of fern diversity using standard taxon-based metrics as well as phylogenetic indices. These measures identify hotspots of diversity and can be used for conservation planning.

Nathalie’s travels to Montgomery and to other research centers in North America are funded by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. Please see Dr. Nagalingum’s website for more information: http://www.evolutionofplants.org.

Dr. Patrick Griffith, MBC Executive Director was happy the lecture was well attended by many local collaborators: “I am glad that Dr. Nagalingum chose to spend a week at Montgomery as part of her travels, studying our collections and meeting with our team and our colleagues. We have a lot of common challenges and interests in cycad conservation and research, and our gardens can work together in these areas. I see great things ahead!”