Email: James Richardson
Phone: +44 (0)131 248 2927
Fax: +44 (0)131 248 2901
My primary interest is in the use of dated molecular phylogenies to reconstruct the history of tropical plant taxa. The research integrates the disciplines of phylogenetics, taxonomy, palaeobotany, geology and palaeoclimatology.
Manilkara lacera, Campo Ma'an, Cameroon (photo Lars Chatrou).
RBGE has recently initiated a research program in Colombia. Click here for details.
Biogeography and Effects of Environmental Change
I study the response of tropical families to historical environmental changes. Sapotaceae, Begoniaceae and Zingiberaceae are pantropical families of flowering plants that I am using as model groups to determine how tectonic and climatic events have affected the current global patterns in the distribution and diversity of these families. In particular, a project on the Sapotaceae of Colombia aims to determine the affect of Andean uplift and other geological changes on diversification in this predominantly lowland group. Previous studies on the genus Inga have demonstrated that diversification occurred recently and coincided with, and thus may have resulted from, Andean uplift, closure of the Isthmus of Panama and Pleistocene climatic changes. Other focus groups at RBGE are the subject of similar studies, e.g. Renealmia, Aframomum, Amomum and Etlingera (Zingiberaceae) and Begonia (Begoniaceae) in Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America. Work continues on generating a phylogeny that will resolve relationships amongst species of Inga (Fabaceae) and help determine what factors have affected speciation in this genus. We are conducting biogeographic studies on Rhododendron section Vireya (Ericaceae) that will contribute to future studies on Southeast Asian biogeography. Previous work on Annonaceae focused on uncovering patterns in the evolution of the African wet forest flora that have been affected by climate change over the last 30 million years and I have also worked on the historical biogeography of Rhamnaceae. Work on Rhamnaceae included studies on the diversification of the genus Phylica in the Cape Flora of South Africa.
Manilkara staminodella, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica (photo James Richardson).
Phylogenetics and classification
A substantial amount of molecular data has been generated for Sapotaceae by our research group and by colleagues at the Natural History Museum in Stockholm (Arne Anderberg and Ulf Swenson). Together we are working on the phylogeny of Sapotaceae to begin to address issues of generic delimitation in this taxonomically problematic group. A phylogeny that includes representatives of all African genera of Annonaceae and has discovered a new genus in the family was recently published. I have also worked on a recircumscription of the tribal classification of Rhamnaceae based on molecular and morphological phylogenetic analyses.
Monographic taxonomic research
The Asian species of the genus Manilkara (Sapotaceae) have been revised by Kate Armstrong who is a former RBGE PhD student. Several other groups within the family have been identified as target taxa for future revision including Southeast Asian Palaquium and the Afro-Malagasy genera, Mimusops, Faucherea, Labramia and Labourdonnasia. The Afro-Malagasy representatives of the genus Chrysophyllum (Sapotaceae) are the subject of a revision and molecular phylogenetic study being undertaken by Barbara MacKinder. I have also co-supervised projects that revised the species of Begonia in Sulawesi and am co-supervising a student working on a revision of the Sumatran species of Amomum (Zingiberaceae). Monographic studies on the African Annonaceae genera Monodora and Isolona by my PhD student (Thomas Couvreur) in the Netherlands were completed in 2008.
Manilkara fasciculata, West Papua, Indonesia (photo Kate Armstrong).
Sapotaceae Resource Centre
Together with Peter Wilkie (RBGE) I have developed a Sapotaceae Resource Centre website hosted by RBGE that includes a searchable specimen and names database, links to other Sapotaceae researchers, information on floristic accounts and a summary of past and present systems of classification for the family. Visit the Sapotaceae Resource Centre.
Elspeth Haston, David Harris and I along with Peter Stevens (Missouri Botanical Garden) and Mark Chase (RBG Kew) developed a linear system of flowering plant families based on the APGII classification upon which the re-organization of the RBGE herbarium was based. This system may be applied to the organization of other herbaria and to Floras.
I co-supervise a PhD project on Begonia section Gireoudia that aims to provide the phylogenetic framework for evolutionary developmental studies on this group that are being conducted by Catherine Kidner and her research group.
Membership of Professional Bodies
Systematics Association Council from 2006 to 2008.
Adjunct Professor at the University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.
Associate Editor for Journal of Biogeography.
Editor of Colombia Forestal.
I teach Plant Geography to MSc and undergraduate students at the University of Edinburgh.
Links to key collaborators
Santiago Madriñán, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia
Ulf Swenson, Natural History Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
Lars Chatrou, University of Wageningen, The Netherlands
Thomas Couvreur (2004-2008). Evolution of Isolona and Monodora (Annonaceae) in Africa. Co-supervisors: Marc Sosef and Lars Chatrou (Wageningen University, the Netherlands). Thomas was a post-doctoral researcher at New York Botanical Garden and now works for IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, http://www.ird.fr) at Montpellier, France.
Kate Armstrong (2006-2010). Systematics & biogeography of the pantropical genus Manilkara (Sapotaceae). Co-supervisors: Richard Milne and Graham Stone (University of Edinburgh). Kate is now a post-doc at the New York Botanical Garden.
Daniel Thomas (2007-2010). Dispersal across Wallaces' line? The systematics of Sulawesi Begonia. Co-supervisors: Mark Hughes (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh) and Rod Page (University of Glasgow). Daniel was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hong Kong and is now a researcher at Naturalis in Leiden, The Netherlands.
Nikki Harrison (2007-2012). Evolution of Diversity in Begonia section Gireoudia. Co-supervisor: Catherine Kidner (RBGE and University of Edinburgh).
Jane Droop (2008-2012). Taxonomic and phylogenetic studies in the genus Amomum (Zingiberaceae) in Sumatra. Co-supervisors: Mark Newman (RBGE) and David Burslem (University of Aberdeen).
Maria Camila Gomez Gutierrez (2010-2013). Evolution of Páramo. Co-supervisors: Richard Milne (University of Edinburgh), Toby Pennington (RBGE) and Santiago Madriñán (Universidad de Los Andes).
Eugenio Valderrama Escallón (2011-2014). Diversification rates in Renealmia (Zingiberaceae). Co-supervisor: Graham Stone (University of Edinburgh) and Santiago Madriñán (Universidad de Los Andes).
Roosevelt Garcia (2011-2014). Origin, biogeography, and evolution of Amazonian white-sand forests. Co-supervisors: Toby Pennington and Kyle Dexter (RBGE).
Lakmini Kumarage (2012-2015). Biogeography of Sri Lankan angiosperms. Co-supervisors: Mark Hughes (RBGE) and Richard Milne (University of Edinburgh).
Ana Maria Aldana (2011-2017). The affect of biodiversity and disturbance regimes on ecosystem services. Co-supervised by Pablo Stevenson and Mailyn Gonzalez (Universidad de Los Andes).
Adolfo Jara Muñoz (2011-2017). Systematics and biogeography of Colombian Begonia. Co-supervised with Santiago Madriñán (Universidad de Los Andes).
Yumiko Baba (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh). Historical biogeography of the genus Pterocarya (Juglandaceae) (2006). Yumiko is studying for her PhD at James Cook University, Australia.
Ruby Prickett (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh). Molecular systematics of Rhododendron section Hymenanthes (2006).
Jurriaan de Vos (Wageningen University). Refuge Begonias - a Pleistocene radiation (2007). Jurriaan is studying for his PhD at the University of Zurich.
Sarah Cody (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh). The timings of plant and animal migration and dispersal between South and Central America (2008).
Maria Camila Gomez Gutierrez (Universidad de Los Andes). Phylogeny and biogeography of Calamagrostis paramo species (2008). Maria Camila is studying for her PhD at RBGE and the University of Edinburgh.
Camilo Londoño Andrade (Universidad de Los Andes). Patrones de distribucion de la flora colombiana, analisis espacial, biogeografia y historia adaptativa de especies vegetales con base en patrones filogeneticos (2009).
Azrul M. Bakar (University of Edinburgh). A phylogenetic and biogeographic study of Isonandreae (Sapotaceae) with special reference to the genus Palaquium using ITS sequence data (2009; thesis awarded with distinction).
William Palmer (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh). Dating asterids (2010). William is now studying for his PhD at the University of Cambridge.
Matti Niissalo (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh). Biogeography of Sloanea (Elaeocarpaceae) (2011). Matti is at the National University of Singapore studying for his PhD.
Loic Cecilo (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and University of Edinburgh). Phylogeography of Amazonian species of Inga (Fabaceae) (2011).
Julieth Serrano (University of Reading). Biogeography of Colombian Sapotaceae (2011).
Gail Stride (University of Edinburgh). Biogeography and generic delimitation in Arabian Sapotaceae (2012).
Hannes Dempewolf (University of Edinburgh). Bayesian approaches to dating phylogenies (2006). Hannes has completed his PhD at the University of British Columbia and now works for the Global Crop Diversity Trust.
Sally Hinds (University of Edinburgh). Patterns of dispersal in Phylica (Rhamnaceae) (2006).
Alex Twyford (University of Edinburgh). Biogeography of Philippine Rhododendron section Vireya (2008). Alex is a PhD student at RBGE and the University of Edinburgh.
Ariadna Mondragon (Universidad de Los Andes). Biogeography of Sapotaceae in Colombia - effects of Andean uplift on a predominantly lowland tropical group.
(a) Refereed research papers
Sarkinen, T., Staats, M., RICHARDSON, J.E., Cowan, R., & Bakker, F.T. Available online 2012. How to open the treasure chest: Optimising DNA extraction from herbarium specimens. PLoS One.
Chatrou, L.W., Erkens, R.H.J., RICHARDSON, J.E. Saunders, R.M.K. & Fay, M.F. 2012. The natural history of Annonaceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 169: 1-4.
Gower, D.J., Johnson, K.G., RICHARDSON, J.E., Rosen, B.R., Rüber, L. & Williams, S.T. 2012. Introduction. In: Gower, D. J., Richardson, J. E., Rosen, B. R., Rüber, L. & Williams, S. T. Biotic Evolution and Environmental Change in Southeast Asia, pages 1-15. Cambridge University Press.
RICHARDSON, J. E., Costion, C.M. & Muellner, A.M. 2012. The Malesian Floristic Interchange. In: Gower, D. J., Richardson, J. E., Rosen, B. R., Rüber, L. & Williams, S. T. Biotic Evolution and Environmental Change in Southeast Asia, pages 138-163. Cambridge University Press.
Staats, M., Cuenca, A., RICHARDSON, J.E., Vrielink-van Ginkel, R., Petersen, G., Seberg, O. & Bakker, F.T. Available online 2011. DNA damage in plant herbarium tissue. PloS One.
Thomas, D.C., Hughes, M., Phutthai, T., Ardi, W.H., Rajbhandary, S., Rubite, R., Twyford, A.D., & RICHARDSON, J.E. 2011. West to east dispersal and subsequent rapid diversification of the mega-diverse genus Begonia (Begoniaceae) in the Malesian archipelago. Journal of Biogeography 39: 98-113.
Thomas, D.C., Hughes, M., Phutthai, T., Rajbhandary, S., Rubite, R., Ardi, W.H. & RICHARDSON, J.E. 2011. A non-coding plastid DNA phylogeny of Asian Begonia (Begoniaceae): Evidence for morphological homoplasy and sectional polyphyly. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 60: 428-444.
Warren, B.H., Bakker, F.T., Bellstedt, D.U., Bytebier, B., Claßen-Bockhoff, R., Dreyer, L.L., Edwards, D., Forest, F., Galley, C., Hardy, C.R., Linder, H.P., Muasya, A.M., Mummenhoff, K., Oberlander, K.C., Quint, M., RICHARDSON, J.E., Savolainen, V., Schrire, B.D., van der Niet, T., Verboom, G.A., Yesson, C. & Hawkins, J.A. 2011. Consistent phenological shifts in the making of a biodiversity hotspot: the Cape flora. BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 39.
Couvreur, T.L.P., Pirie, M.D., Chatrou, L.W., Saunders, R.M.K., Su, Y.C.F., RICHARDSON, J.E. & Erkens, R.H.J. 2011. Early history of the flowering plant family Annonaceae: steady diversification and boreotropical geodispersal. Journal of Biogeography 38: 664-680.
Bartish, I.V., RICHARDSON, J.E., Antonelli, A. & Swenson, U. 2010. Vicariance or long-distance dispersal: historical biogeography of the pantropical subfamily Chrysophylloideae (Sapotaceae). Journal of Biogeography 38: 177-190.
Couvreur, T.L.P., Gort, G., RICHARDSON, J.E., Sosef, M.S.M., & Chatrou, L.W. 2010. Insights into the influence of priors in posterior mapping of discrete morphological characters: a case study in Annonaceae. PLoS One 5: 1-13.
Auvray, G, Harris, D.J., RICHARDSON, J.E., Newman, M.F. & Sarkinen, T.E. 2010. Phylogeny and dating of Aframomum (Zingiberaceae). In Diversity, Phylogeny and Evolution in the Monocotyledons (Seberg, O, Petersen, G, Barfod, A. & Davis, J.L. eds.), pp. 297-305. Aarhus University Press, Denmark.
Cody, S, RICHARDSON, J.E., Rull, V., Ellis, C. & Pennington, R.T. 2010. The great American biotic interchange revisited. Ecography 33: 1-7.
Kursar, T.A., Dexter, K.G., Lokvam, J., Pennington, R.T., RICHARDSON, J.E., Weber, M.G., Murakami, E.T., Drake, C., McGregor, R. & Coley, P.D. 2009. The evolution of antiherbivore defenses and their contribution to species coexistence in the tropical tree genus Inga. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106: 18073-18078.
Chatrou, L.W., Escribano, M.P., Viruel, M.A., Maas, J.W., RICHARDSON, J.E & Hormaza, J.I. 2009. Flanking regions of monomorphic microsatellite loci provide a new source of data for plant species-level phylogenetics 53: 726-733.
Chatrou, L.W., Couvreur. T.L.P. & RICHARDSON, J.E. 2009. Spatio-temporal dynamism of hotspots enhances plant diversity. Journal of Biogeography 36: 1628-1629.
Hollingsworth, P.M., Forrest, L.L., Spouge, J.L., Hajibabaei, M., Ratnasingham, N., van der Bank, M., Chase,, M.W., Cowan, R.S., Erickson, D.L., Fazekas, A.J., Graham, S.W., James, K.E., Kim, K.J., Kress, W.J., Schneider, H., van Alphen Stahl, J., Barrett, S.C.H., van den Berg, C., Bogarin, D., Burgess, K.S., Cameron, K.M., Carine, M., Chacón, J., Clark, A., Clarkson, J.J., Conrad, F., Devey, D.S., Ford, C.S., Hedderson, T.A.J., Hollingsworth, M.L., Husband, B.C., Kelly, L.J., Kesanakurti, P.R., Kim, J.S., Kim, Y.D., Lahaye, R., Lee, H.L., Long, D.G., Madriñán, S., Maurin, O., Meusnier, I., Newmaster, S.G., Park, C.W., Percy, D.M., Petersen, G., RICHARDSON, J.E., Salazar, G.A., Savolainen, V., Seberg, O., Wilkinson, M.J., Yi, D.K. & Little, D.P. 2009. A DNA barcode for land plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106: 12794-12797.
Hollingsworth, M.L., Clark, A., Forrest, L.L., RICHARDSON, J.E., Pennington, R.T., Long, D.G., Cowan, R., Chase, M.W., Gaudeul, M. & Hollingsworth, P.M. 2009. Selecting barcoding loci for plants: evaluation of seven candidate loci with species level sampling in three divergent groups of land plants. Molecular Ecology Resources 9: 439-457.
Couvreur. T.L.P., L.W. Chatrou, M.S.M. Sosef & J.E. RICHARDSON. 2008. Molecular phylogenetics reveal multiple tertiary vicariance origins of African rain forest trees. BMC Biology 6: 54-63.
Swenson, U., RICHARDSON, J.E. & Bartish, I.V. 2008. Multi-gene phylogeny of the pantropical subfamily Chrysophylloideae (Sapotaceae): Evidence of generic polyphyly and extensive morphological homoplasy. Cladistics 24: 1-26.
Couvreur, T.L.P., RICHARDSON, J.E., Sosef, M.S.M., Erkens, R.H.J. & Chatrou, L.W. 2008. Evolution of syncarpy and other morphological characters in African Annonaceae: a posterior mapping approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47: 302-318.
Chase, M.W., Cowan, R.S., Hollingsworth, P.M., van den Berg, C., Madriñán, S., Petersen, G., Seberg, O. Cameron, K.M., Kress, W.J., Hedderson, T.A.J., Conrad, F., Salazar, G., Carine, M., Barraclough, T.G., RICHARDSON, J.E., Hollingsworth, M., Jørgsensen, T., Kelly, L. & Wilkinson, M. 2007. A proposal for a standardized protocol to barcode all land plants. Taxon. 56: 295-299
Särkinen, T.E., M.F. Newman, P.J.M. Maas, H. Maas, A.D. Poulsen, D.J. Harris, J.E. RICHARDSON, A. Clark, M. Hollingsworth & R.T. Pennington. 2007. Recent oceanic long-distance dispersal and divergence in the amphi-Atlantic rain forest genus Renealmia L.f. (Zingiberaceae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44: 968-980.
Haston, E., RICHARDSON, J.E., Stevens, P.F., Chase, M.W. & Harris, D.J. 2007. A linear sequence of Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II families. Taxon 56: 7-12.
Pennington, R.T., RICHARDSON, J.E. & Lavin, M. 2006. Insights into the historical construction of species-rich biomes from dated plant phylogenies, neutral ecological theory and phylogenetic community structure. New Phytologist 172: 605-616.
Couvreur T.L.P., Gereau R.E., Wieringa J.J. & RICHARDSON J.E. 2006. Description of four new species of Monodora and Isolona (Annonaceae) from Tanzania and an overview of Tanzanian Annonaceae diversity. Adansonia, sér. 3, 28: 243-266.
Pirie, M.D., Chatrou, L.W., Erkens, R.H.J., Maas, J.W., van der Niet, T., Mols, J.B. & RICHARDSON, J.E. 2005. Phylogeny reconstruction and molecular dating in four Neotropical genera of Annonaceae: the effect of taxon sampling in age estimations. Regnum Vegetabile 143, A.R.G. Gantner Verlag, Liechtenstein, pp.149-174.
Hollingsworth, P.M., Dawson, I.K., Goodall-Copestake, W.P., RICHARDSON, J.E., Weber, J.C., Sotelo Montes, C. & Pennington, R.T. 2005. Do farmers reduce genetic diversity when they domesticate tropical trees? A case study from Amazonia. Molecular Ecology 14: 497-501.
Pennington, R.T., Cronk, Q.C.B. & RICHARDSON, J.E. 2004. Introduction and synthesis: plant phylogeny and the origin of major biomes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B59: 1455-1465.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Chatrou, L.W. Mols, J.B., Erkens, R.H.J. & Pirie, M.D. 2004. Historical biogeography of two cosmopolitan families of flowering plants: Annonaceae and Rhamnaceae. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London B59: 1495-1508.
Calsbeek, R.G., Thompson, J.N. & RICHARDSON, J.E. 2003. Patterns of molecular evolution and diversification in a biodiversity hotspot: the California Floristic Province. Molecular Ecology 12:1021-1029.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Fay, M.F., Cronk, Q.C.B. & Chase, M.W. 2003. Species delimitation and the origin of populations in island representatives of the genus Phylica L. (Rhamnaceae). Evolution 57: 816-827.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Pennington, R.T., Pennington, T.D. & Hollingsworth, P.M. 2001. Rapid diversification of a species-rich genus of neotropical rain forest trees. Science 293: 2242-2245.
Fay, M.F., Lledó, M.D., RICHARDSON, J.E., Rye, B.L. & Hopper, S.D. 2001. Molecular data confirm the affinities of Granitites with Alphitonia (Rhamnaceae). Kew Bulletin 56: 669-675.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Weitz, F.M., Fay, M.F., Cronk, Q.C.B., Linder, H.P., Reeves, G. & Chase, M.W. 2001. Rapid and recent origin of species richness in the Cape flora of South Africa. Nature 412: 181-183.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Weitz, F.M., Fay, M.F., Cronk, Q.C.B., Linder, H.P., Reeves, G. & Chase, M.W. 2001. Phylogenetic analysis of Phylica L. with an emphasis on island species: evidence from plastid trnL-F DNA and nuclear internal transcribed spacer (ribosomal DNA) sequences. Taxon 50: 405-427.
RICHARDSON, J.E. 2000. In Walters et al. (eds.) European Garden Flora VI: Accounts of Myoporaceae, selected genera in Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Bignoniaceae, Boraginaceae, Buddleiaceae and Compositae.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Fay, M.F., Cronk, Q.C.B. & Chase, M.W. 2000. A revision of the tribal classification of Rhamnaceae. Kew Bulletin 55: 1-30.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Fay, M.F., Cronk, Q.C.B., Bowman, D. & Chase, M.W. 2000. A phylogenetic analysis of Rhamnaceae using rbcL and trnL-F plastid DNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 87: 1309-1324.
Thulin, M., Bremer, B., Chase, M.W., Niklasson, J., RICHARDSON, J.E. & Fay, M.F. 1998. Barbeya and Dirachma - Family Relationships of two Enigmatic Genera. Plant Systematics and Evolution 213: 103-119.
Fay, M.F., Olmstead, R.G., RICHARDSON, J.E., Santiago, E., Prance, G.T. & Chase, M.W. 1998. Molecular data support the inclusion of Duckeodendron cestroides in Solanaceae. Kew Bulletin 53: 203-212.
RICHARDSON, J.E. 1997. In Walters et al. (eds.) European Garden Flora V: Accounts of Primula, Anacardiaceae, Sapotaceae, Leeaceae, Alangiaceae, Corynocarpaceae, selected genera in Cistaceae, Ericaceae, Myrtaceae, Sterculiaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Umbelliferae and Vitaceae.
Williams, C.A., RICHARDSON, J.E., Greenham, J. & Eagles, J. 1993. Correlations between leaf flavonoids, taxonomy and plant geography in the genus Disporum. Phytochemistry 34: 197-203.
(b) Books and volumes authored or edited
Gower, D. J., RICHARDSON, J. E., Rosen, B. R., Rüber, L. & Williams, S. T. 2012. Biotic Evolution and Environmental Change in Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press.
Chatrou, L.W., Erkens, R.H.J., RICHARDSON, J.E. Saunders, R.M.K. & Fay, M.F. 2012. The natural history of Annonaceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 169(1).
Pennington, R.T., RICHARDSON, J.E. & Cronk, Q.C.B. (eds). (2004). Plant phylogeny and the origin of major biomes. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B 359: 1453-1656.
RICHARDSON, J.E., Wilkie, P., Pullan, M. & Watson, M.F. Sapotaceae Resource Centre.