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Phylogeny and diversification of the world's oaks

Oak conservation depends on our understanding of what species there are and how they will evolve in response to climate change. Understanding evolutionary history and gene flow is thus key to understanding oak diversity.


We are investigating the evolutionary and ecological history of the world's more than 400 oak species (Quercus, Fagaceae). Working with collaborators in Mexico, Europe, China, and the U.S., we have assembled a DNA database for more than half of the recognized oak species using a genomic method that samples thousands of genes for each oak sampled. Combining these molecular data with data on climate, soils, plant traits, and community compositions allows us to untangle the complicated history of population divergence, hybridization, adaptation, and convergence that shapes oak biodiversity.

Funding sources

National Science Foundation, Fulbright Scholar Program, Center for Tree Science, The Morton Arboretum

Project status