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Douglas C. Daly

B. A. Krukoff Curator of Amazonian Botany, Institute of Systematic Botany

Ph.D., City University of New York


Burseraceae (frankincense family)


systematics of Burseraceae; floristics of Amazonia; leaf architecture

Research locations

Neotropics (especially Amazonian Brazil), Mexico, Madagascar, New Guinea, Vietnam


My research revolves around tropical tree systematics and the flora of the Amazon region, focusing on the pantropical frankincense and myrrh family Burseraceae and the flora of southwestern Amazonia. Initially, my work on the Burseraceae was purely taxonomic, but in recent years I have expanded into the molecular systematics, biogeography, pollen morphology, germination patterns, seedling morphology, and leaf architecture of the group, plus fruit dispersal, due in large part to stimulating collaborations with graduate students and colleagues in a number of countries. I became sufficiently interested in the potential applications of leaf architecture in systematics and conservation that I have completed projects with students on several plant groups, and I am a co-author of a newly published manual of leaf architecture.

I have collaborated with NYBG Honorary Curator John Mitchell for many years on projects and publications about the closely related Anacardiaceae or cashew nut family, and recently we formed with four other researchers a consortium to study the remarkably different evolutionary trajectories of this family and the Burseraceae.

The Burseraceae comprise one of the most difficult, diverse, and ecologically important tree families in Amazonia. Most species are found in primary upland vegetation, and in any given part of the region the family shows high density, high diversity, or both, as is the case in central Amazonia, where up to ten percent of the trees are Burseraceae. As such, the family constitutes an excellent tool for examining the phytogeography of Amazonia and other regions.

My geographical interest in the Amazon region centers on the Brazilian state of Acre, but my collaborators and I have been expanding our focus and activities to embrace the whole southwestern quadrant of Amazonia. Through our own work and supplemented by recruitment and training, we have been able to complete a spectrum of projects in the region, including a preliminary checklist of the flora, an analysis of its floristic affinities, ethnobotanical studies of rubber-tapper and indigenous communities, management and commercialization of specific non-timber forest products, the ecology of the bamboo forests that characterize the region, characterization of other vegetation types, a manual of the palms of Acre, and a glossary of common names for plants in Acre, among others.

I have always believed that it is not only possible but actually incumbent on botanists to apply their research results to real-world problems. In Acre, by making our research program an indispensible source of information on the plant resources of southwestern Amazonia, my Brazilian collaborators and I have been able to advance conservation and help guide public policy in a number of ways, including participating directly in the state zoning project as well as a new trinational consortium, providing justifications for the creation of new conservation units, advising government agencies and forest communities on standards and protocols for certification of managed forests, and helping to monitor the impacts of a new highway that will ultimately link Amazonia to the Pacific Ocean.

Selected Publications

Daly, D. C., M. Silveira, & collaborators 2008. First Catalogue of the Flora of Acre, Brazil/Primeiro Catálogo da Flora do Acre, Brasil. EDUFAC, Rio Branco.

Ellis, B., D. C. Daly, K. R. Johnson, J. D. Mitchell, P. Wilf & S. L. Wing (in press). Manual of Leaf Architecture. Cornell University Press.

Daly, D. C. 2007. The local branch: Toward better management of production forests in Amazonia. Public Garden 22(2): 12-15.

Ososki, A. L., M. J. Balick & D. C. Daly (in press). Medicinal plants and cultural variation across Dominican rural, urban, and transnational landscapes. In: A. Pieroni & I. Vandebroek, eds., Traveling Cultures and Plants: The Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacy of Migrations. Bergahn Books, New York.

Daly, D. C. 2007. A new section of Protium Burm. f. from the Neotropics. Studies in neotropical Burseraceae XIV. Brittonia 59: 1-24.

Daly, D. C. (in review). Burseraceae; Amazonian species. In: Giulietti, A. M., L. Paganucci de Queiroz, A. Rapini, J. M. Cardoso da Silva, & M. J. Gomes de Andrade, eds., Catálogo de Espécies de Plantas Raras do Brasil [Catalogue of Rare Plant Species of Brazil]. Conservação Internacional do Brasil.

Daly, D. C. & A. Millozza 2007. “Lost” plant collections from the Amazon 1. The 1899 expedition of Dr. Luigi Buscalioni. Taxon 56: 185-199.

Griscom, B. W., D. C. Daly, & P. M. S. Ashton 2007. Floristics of bamboo-dominated stands in lowland terra-firma forests of southwestern Amazonia. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society 134 (1): 108-125.

Ricker, M, G. Gutiérrez-García, & D. C. Daly 2007. Modeling long-term tree growth curves in tropical forests in a warming climate. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37: 977-989.

Mitchell, J. D., D. C. Daly, S. Pell, & A. Randrianasolo 2006. Poupartiopsis gen. nov. and its context in Anacardiaceae classification. Systematic Botany 31: 337-348.

Aymard C., G. A. & D. C. Daly 2006. Two new species of Ophiocaryon (Sabiaceae) from South America. Brittonia 58: 270-276.

Daly, D. C., D. P. Costa, & A. W. F. Melo 2006. The “salão” vegetation of Southwestern Amazonia. Biodiversity and Conservation 15: 2905-2923.

Bletter, N. & D. C. Daly 2006. Cacao and its relatives in South America: An overview of taxonomy, ecology, biogeography, chemistry, and ethnobotany. Pages 31-68. In: C. McNeil, ed. The Origins of Chocolate: Cacao in the Americas. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

Weeks, A., D. C. Daly, & B. B. Simpson 2005. The phylogenetic history and historical biogeography of the frankincense and myrrh family (Burseraceae) based on nuclear and chloroplast sequence data. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 35: 85-101.

Fine, P. V. A., D. C. Daly, F. G. Villa M., I. Mesones A., & K. M. Cameron 2005. The contribution of edaphic heterogeneity to the evolution and diversity of Burseraceae trees in the Western Amazon. Evolution 29: 1464-1478.

Bletter, N., J. Janovec, B. Brosi, & D. C. Daly 2004. A digital base map for studying the Neotropical flora. Taxon 53: 469-477.

Ter Steege, H., N. Pitman, D. Sabatier, H. Castellanos, P. van der Hout, D. C. Daly, M. Silveira, O. Phillips, R. Vásquez, T. van Andel, J. Duivenvoorden, A. A. Oliveira, R. Ek, R. Lilwah, R. Thomas, J. van Essen, C. Baider, P. Maas, S. Mori, J. Terborgh, P. Nuñez V., H. Mogollón & W. Morawetz 2003. A spatial model of tree α-diversity and -density for the Amazon. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 2255-2276.

Daly, D. C. 2003. Burseraceae; Erythroxylaceae; Flacourtiaceae; Lacistemataceae; Peridiscaceae. Pages 67-70, 143-145, 158-161, 200-201, 290-291. In: Smith, N. P., S. A. Mori, A. Henderson, D. W. Stevenson, & S. V. Heald, eds. Flowering Plant Families of the American Tropics. Princeton University Press/New York Botanical Garden

Silveira, M., J. M. Torezan & D. C. Daly 2002. Caracterização ambiental e diversidade arbórea na bacia do Alto Juruá [“Habitat characterization and tree diversity in the Rio Juruá basin”]. Pages 65-75. In: M. Carneiro da Cunha & M. B. Almeida, eds. Enciclopédia da Floresta [“Encyclopedia of the Forest”]. Companhia das Letras, São Paulo.

Daly, D. C. & M. Silveira 2002. Aspectos florísticos da bacia do Alto Juruá: História botânica, peculiaridades, similaridades e importância para conservação [“Floristic aspects of the Rio Juruá basin: Botanical history, peculiarities, similarities, and importance for conservation”]. Pages 53-63. In: M. Carneiro da Cunha & M. B. Almeida, eds., loc. cit.

Daly, D. C. 2002. Crepidospermum atlanticum sp. nov., a genus new to eastern Brazil’s Atlantic forest complex. Studies in neotropical Burseraceae X. Kew Bulletin 57: 471-477.

Oliveira, A. A. de & D. C. Daly, eds. 2001. Florestas do Rio Negro [“Forests of the Rio Negro”]. Companhia das Letras, São Paulo. 337 pp.

Daly, D. C. 2001. Trilhas botânicas no Rio Negro [“Botanical footsteps in the Rio Negro”]. Pages 25-59. In: Oliveira, A. de & D. C. Daly, eds., loc. cit.

Suffredini, I. B. & D. C. Daly 2001. O Rio Negro como cenário na busca de novos medicamentos [“The Rio Negro as a platform in the search for new medicines”]. Pages 255-281. In: Oliveira, A. A. de & D. C. Daly, eds., loc. cit.

Oliveira, A. A., D. C. Daly & A. Vicentini 2001. Florestas sobre areia: campinaranas e igapós [“Forests on sand: campinaranas and igapós”]. Pages 179-219. In: Oliveira, A. A. de & D. C. Daly, eds. Florestas do Rio Negro. [loc. cit.]

Daly, D. C., K. M. Cameron & D. W. Stevenson 2001. Plant systematics in the age of genomics. Plant Physiology 127: 1328-1333.

Daly, D. C. & J. D. Mitchell 2000. Lowland vegetation of tropical South America — an overview. Pages 391-454. In: D. Lentz, ed. Imperfect Balance: Landscape Transformations in the pre-Columbian Americas. Columbia University Press, New York.

Daly, D. C. 1999. Notes on Trattinnickia, including a synopsis in eastern Brazil’s Atlantic forest complex. Studies in neotropical Burseraceae IX. Kew Bulletin 54 (1): 129-137.

Oliveira, A. A. de & D. C. Daly 1999. Geographic distribution of tree species occurring in the region of Manaus, Brazil: Implications for regional diversity and conservation. Biodiversity and Conservation 8: 1245-1259.

Ricker, M., R. O. Mendelsohn, D. C. Daly, & G. Ángeles 1999. Enriching the rainforest with native fruit trees: An ecological and economic analysis in Los Tuxtlas (Veracruz, Mexico). Ecological Economics 31: 439-448.

Ricker, M. & D. C. Daly 1998. Botánica económica en bosques tropicales principios y métodos para su estudio y aprovechamiento [“Economic Botany in Tropical Forests — Principles and Methods for their Study and Utilization”]. Editorial Diana, México, D.F.

Mitchell, J. D. & D. C. Daly 1998. The “tortoise’s cajá” — a new species of Spondias (Anacardiaceae) from southwestern Amazonia. Brittonia 50: 447-451.

Silveira, M., N. M. C. de Paula, I. F. Brown, H. B. N. Borges, D. Daly & L. A. Ferreira 1997. Os “buracos negros” da diversidade – Estudos no Acre revelam precariedade do conhecimento sobre a flora amazônica [The “black holes” of diversity — Studies in Acre reveal the precariousness of our knowledge of the Amazonian flora]. Ciência Hoje 22(128): 64-65.

Daly, D. C. 1993 (1997). Systematics and ethnobotany: What’s in a name? Delpinoa, n.s. 35-36: 3-14.

Daly, D. C. & C. A. Limbach 1996. The role of the physician in medicinal plant research. In: M. J. Balick, E. Elisabetsky, & S. Laird, eds., Medicinal Resources of the Tropical Forest: Biodiversity and its Importance to Human Health. Pages 48-64. Columbia University Press, New York.

Daly, D. C. 1996. The leaf that launched a thousand ships [about the Late Blight of potato, particularly in Ireland]. Natural History 105(1): 6, 24-32.

Daly, D. C. & H. T. Beck 1996. Collecting bulk samples of plants: Methods and environmental precautions. Pages 147-166. In: M. N. Alexiades, ed. 1996. Selected Guidelines for Ethnobotanical Research: A Field Manual. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx.

Harley, M. M. & D. C. Daly 1996. Burseraceae-Protieae. World Pollen and Spore Flora 20: 1-44.

Daly, D. C. 1996. Subregion of southwestern Amazon moist forest — Upper Rio Purus in Acre and contiguous Bolivia — Brazil, Bolivia. Pages II-14-15 in D. Olson, E. Dinerstein, G. Castro, and E. Maraví, eds. Identifying Gaps in Botanical Information for Biodiversity Conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean. World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D. C.

Daly, D. C., R. Foster, & B. León 1996. Southwestern Amazon moist forest-Southwest, Juruá, Purus-Madeira — Peru, Brazil, Bolivia. Pages II-13-14 in D. Olson, E. Dinerstein, G. Castro, & E. Maraví, eds. loc. cit.

Daly, D. C. 1995. The perils of collecting [botanical history of Amazonia]. Audubon 97(1): 78-86.

Ricker, M., G. Veen, D. C. Daly L. Witte, M. Sinat Velasco, & F. C. Czygan 1994. Alkaloid diversity in eleven species of Ormosia and in Clathrotropis macrocarpa (Leguminosae Papilionoideae). Brittonia 46: 355-371.

Lisboa, P. L. B. & D. C. Daly, eds. 1991 [1993]. Trinta anos de cooperação entre o MG e o NYBG [Thirty Years of Cooperation between the MG and the NYBG.]. Bol. Mus. Paraense, sec. Bot. 7(2) (450 pp.).

Daly, D. C. & Lisboa, P. L. B. 1991 [1993]. The Amazon, the Museu Goeldi and The New York Botanical Garden. In: P. L. B. Lisboa & D. C. Daly, eds., Trinta anos de cooperação entre o MG e o NYBG. Bol. Mus. Paraense, sec. Bot. 7(2): 191 198.

Mitchell, J. D. & D. C. Daly 1993. A revision of the genus Thyrsodium (Anacardiaceae). Brittonia 45: 115 129.

Daly, D. C. 1992. Tree of life [about taxol and the yew tree]. Audubon 94(2): 76 85.

Daly, D. C. 1992. The National Cancer Institute Plant Collections Program: Update and implications for tropical forests. Pages 224 230. In: M. Plotkin & L. Famolare, eds. Sustainable Harvest and Marketing of Rain Forest Products. Island Press, Washington, D.C.

Daly, D. C. 1990. The genus Tetragastris and the forests of Eastern Brazil Studies in neotropical Burseraceae III. Kew Bull. 45: 179 194.

Daly, D. C. 1990. Extractive reserves: a new great hope. Garden Journal 14(6): 14 15, 17 18, 20 21, 32.

Balée, W. & D. C. Daly 1990. Ka’apor resin classification. Advances in Economic Botany 8: 24 34.

Daly, D. C. & G. T. Prance 1989. Brazilian Amazon. Pages 401 426. In: D. G. Campbell & H. D. Hammond, eds. Floristic inventory of tropical countries. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx.

Daly, D. C. 1989. Studies in neotropical Burseraceae II. Generic limits in Neotropical Protieae and Canarieae. Brittonia 41: 17 27.