A Systematic Monograph of Swartzia

Benjamin Torke

With about 200 species, the neotropical tree genus Swartzia is a ubiquitous element in lowland rainforests of Central and South America and is an outstanding example of explosive evolution. This project integrates diverse approaches, including herbarium studies, molecular systematics, and bioinformatics, to produce an online, interactive synthesis of biological data on the genus and a comprehensive taxonomic revision. These data, hosted on The Swartzia Pages, will forward a long-term objective to develop Swartzia as a model in tropical trees for exploring the historical, evolutionary, and ecological factors that underlie species diversity in tropical rainforests. Moreover, the project has already led to the discovery of substantial new taxonomic diversity, including approximately 30 new species. Project data are the basis for assessing the current conservation status of species of Swartzia, many of them threatened with extinction.

More information: The Swartzia Pages

Swartzia alagoensis, a newly discovered species described by the research team in 2012 and currently threatened by habitat destruction in coastal Brazil. Photo: V. Bittrich.