Exploring the Radiation of Piper (Piperaceae) in the Caribbean
James F. Smith
For some plant taxa the dispersal ability is limited and most of their diversity is geographically restricted. Other groups are readily dispersed and have diversified over a broad geographic region. Previous studies in the plant genus Piper have demonstrated that they can be divided into three distinct evolutionary groups; New World, Old World mainland, and South Pacific Islands. There have been exceptions to this mainly Africa and Australia, but neither of these continents have high levels of Piper diversity. In the New World there have been no tests to determine the dispersal ability of Piper and whether radiations are geographically restricted in the Americas. Here we sample many species found in the Caribbean islands to resolve if the Caribbean represents a single radiation for the genus. We are testing this with molecular phylogenetic analyses. Our preliminary results indicate that Piper as a whole has been introduced into the Caribbean many times. However there are instances where those introductions have resulted in independent radiations.
Ludwig, Sierra; Bornstein, Allan J.; and Smith, James F., "Exploring the Radiation of Piper (Piperaceae) in the Caribbean" (2014). College of Engineering Presentations. 25.