Peter Moonlight

Collecting Begonia monadelpha in disturbed montane forest, Cajamarca, Peru

My PhD research is focused on understanding the links between species richness and ecology in Begonia, the world’s sixth largest plant genus. Begonia contains over 1750 accepted species including around 500 in my focal area, the montane forests of Andean and Central America. I am using methods based upon species distribution modelling and field environmental measurements to determine whether those 500 species all inhabit a common “Begonia” environment or if each has its own individual niche. If the latter is true, has selection for those different environments driven Begonia to become the species-rich genus it is today? My research is hosted jointly by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (supervisor Mark Hughes) and the University of Glasgow (supervisor Rod Page).

Email: Peter Moonlight

Current research:

  • Phylogenetics of Neotropical Begonia, in collaboration with Mark Tebbitt and Adolfo Jara.
  • Niche modelling in Neotropical Begonia.
  • Global Begonia database (Neotropical species).
  • Taxonomy of selected Andean Begonia species.
  • Begonia biogeography.


Moonlight, P.W., Richardson, J.E., Tebbitt, M.C., Thomas, D.C., Hollands, R., Peng, C.-I & Hughes, M. (2015). Continental-scale diversification patterns in a mega-diverse genus: the biogeography of Neotropical Begonia. Journal of Biogeography, in press.

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