San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSan Diego Natural History Museum Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias: Botany Department


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Synopsis of Research Projects

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Lower California, Mexico
The botany dept. staff and volunteers have been compiling this specimen-based checklist, creating a database, constructing a synoptic collection, and updating the scientific nomenclature for the plant taxa of this region for the last five years. We have almost finished with this research in our own SD Herbarium, but still need to visit a few other herbaria in order to complete the research. We have plans to digitally scan all of the specimens in this synoptic collection and sell them as a regional botanical resource on compact disk.

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of San Diego County, California
We are always continuing to stay abreast of the flora of our own county. Various new plant species have been described in recent years and new plant records are found almost weekly for the county. All of this research has helped to produce a new checklist that should be published later this year by Simpson and Rebman that will include new nomenclature, new records, herbarium specimen information, and the authors of plant names. We have also been updating and continuing to add to the San Diego synoptic collection in the SD Herbarium, which is quite heavily used by staff and local botanists. We have plans to digitally scan all of the specimens in this collection and sell them as a regional botanical resource on compact disk.

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Imperial County, California
To date, no complete floristic checklist has ever been published for this county. We are continuing plant collecting efforts, synoptic collection construction, and database compilation for this county flora. More fieldwork is still in dire need, but seasonal rainfall has been limiting in recent years.

The Baja California Cactus Atlas
Most all of the literature work and distributional mapping has already been conducted for this project. Plus, most of the photographs for the cactus taxa have been selected for this atlas. However, it still lacks complete descriptions and discussions for each cactus in the region before the book will be ready.

The Flora of the Sierra San Francisco, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Most of the fieldwork and specimen documentation was conducted during the Lindblad Expedition of 1997 and preliminary collecting trips before that expedition. However, accurate vegetation mapping, discussions of the floristic affinities, and a visit to the east side of the range still needs to be performed.

The Flora of the Sierra Guadalupe, Baja California Sur, Mexico
A lot of field work and specimen documentation was conducted during the Lindblad Expedition of 1997 and on a few post-expedition collecting trips, but much more is still needed in order to survey most of the range. This sierra has turned out to be quite interesting in relation to its floristic composition since it is yielding many new plant records for the peninsula and even new species, i.e. Amyris sp. (Rutaceae). More extensive fieldwork in the fall of 2001 is being planned.

The Common Cacti of the State of Baja California, Mexico
This is a collaborative project with Mexican botanists at UABC and the state municipal government. We are attempting to produce a general publication in order to educate the public and tourists on the diversity of cacti and their importance in the state of Baja California.

San Diego Urban Canyon Floristic Surveys
Rebman and botany dept. volunteers are trying to survey and document the plant diversity in various undeveloped canyons in the San Diego metropolitan area. This requires a lot more fieldwork, collecting, and help from other volunteers in order to get it accomplished more thoroughly. However, it has been useful in understanding local diversity and getting some better local specimen vouchers.

Balboa Park Cactus and Succulent Garden Research
This is a project that was started with Oscar Solis, a Price Fellow to the San Diego Natural History Museum botany department. It involves collecting and documenting many of the cacti and succulents in this garden in order to obtain cytogenetic data, especially chromosome counts, and better succulent species representation in the SD Herbarium. This study will eventually help the Balboa Park horticultural staff and the general public by providing accurate identifications of the species in this area of the park.

Palm Vouchers for the San Diego Zoo
As part of a MOU between San Diego Natural History Museum and the Zoological Society of San Diego, the botany department is helping the zoo to better document some of their botanical resources. In this study, a botany volunteer, Bob Lauri, is periodically making collecting trips to the zoo and preparing palm (Arecaceae) specimens for the SD Herbarium. This information is being databased and will help the zoo in their re-accreditation process.

Cholla Cactus (Cylindropuntia) Taxonomy
Rebman continues to research and publish on various cholla cacti from our region, which was part of his doctoral research. These studies have revealed a lot of new information on the biosystematics and reproductive systems of this cactus group.

Biosystematics of the Prickly-pear Cacti of Southern California and Baja California
Rebman is continuing to investigate the taxonomy of this diverse and difficult group of plants. There is still a whole lot of fieldwork and cytogenetic evaluation that needs to be done before any major publications can be produced from it. There is no doubt that many new species will be elucidated by this study and various typification and nomenclature changes will also result.

San Diego County Plant Diversity and Documentation Analysis
Since a few of the larger plant families have now been fully databased in the SD Herbarium, Rebman would like to use this data to produce a manuscript that factually reveals how poorly we know the distribution of plants in our county and how important collections are in studying, monitoring, and managing the local flora.

Diversity Mapping of the Cactaceae of Lower California, Mexico
This is a collaborative project with Hugo Riemann at the Colegio del Frontera Norte in Tijuana. Rebman has provided him with all of his specimen and observation databases on the cacti of Baja California and Riemann is producing GIS maps that show their distribution, richness, and endemism on the peninsula. We hope to produce a detailed manuscript on this research later this year.

A New Shrub Species (Rutaceae: Amyris) from Baja California Sur
This is a new species that Rebman found in the Sierra Guadalupe during a plant collecting trip in 1997. This species still needs a full description and its affinities to other species in this genus need to be analyzed further.

More New Plant Taxa from San Diego County and Baja California
Rebman still needs to conduct some taxonomic research on a possible new taxon of Tauschia (Apiaceae) from the desert transition area of San Diego County. Plus, more work needs to be done on a possible new species of Calyptridium (Portulacaceae) from the Sierra San Pedro Mrtir of Baja California.

Future Projects:

Biosystematics of the Chollas (Cactaceae: Cylindropuntia) of Lower California, Mexico
Rebman hopes to publish all of the taxonomic data that he discovered on this cactus group while he was a graduate student along with all of the findings that have been revealed since his dissertation. Partial funding has already been received from the local San Diego chapter of the Cactus and Succulent Society to help with publication costs.

The Cacti of California
Rebman would like to write a book on the cacti of the state of California. This is a project he would like to conduct within the next three years, but it will require quite a bit of fieldwork and herbarium visits within the state of California.

Biodiversity of San Diego County; What We Do Not Know
Rebman has already started on this manuscript that discusses our local biodiversity and what we dont know about it. He is guiding this article toward a general audience and maybe a newspaper publication.

Natural History Expedition of the Pacific Crest Trail of San Diego County
Rebman hopes to hike all the way across San Diego County this next year and collect and document the plants along this entire transect. This endeavor would not only add a lot of floristic information and new collections for the county, but it would also promote the usage of this nature trail in the county. After talking with a few of the San Diego Natural History Museum scientists, we feel that we may be able to make this into a mini expedition and bring up our Mexican colleagues to help us collect and work here in San Diego.

On the urgency of conservation actions on Guadalupe Island, Mexico; is it a lost paradise?
This is a paper that Rebman is working on with Dr. Jose Luis Leon de la Luz at CIBNOR as a result of the Guadalupe Expedition 2000. Dr. Leon de la Luz has already written the first draft but it still needs some editing and additions.

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