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Paola Pedraza

Adjunct Scientist, Institute of Systematic Botany

Ph.D., CIty University of New York
New York, NY


Systematics of Ericaceae


Systematics of Ericaceae. Andean flora, especially floristics and diversity in paramos and cloud forests

Research locations

Central and South America


I conduct taxonomic, phylogenetic, and collections-oriented research that seeks to contribute to both the conservation and botanical knowledge of the tropical Andes, a region with the highest levels of biodiversity and endemism in the world, but which faces accelerated habitat loss. I also study the blueberry family Ericaceae (mortiño, agraz, uvito de páramo), a prominent component of montane flora. I am currently working on floristic treatments for Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia, at the same time that I am revising important genera. My research also focuses on the evolution of the diverse tribe Vaccinieae, combining morphological, anatomical, and molecular sequence data. Vaccinieae is an exciting group to study: it is the food source of many animals from hummingbirds to mammals, about 94% of the neo-tropical species are endemic, and many of them are endangered. To address the threats that Ericaceae faces, I am experimenting with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to integrate my phylogenetic research with spatial data and models of habitat change. Through the study of the flora of the cloud forests and páramos I help to identify endangered species and conservation hotspots.

Selected Publications

Pedraza-Peñalosa, P. 2008. Three New Species of Disterigma (Ericaceae: Vaccinieae) from western Colombia, with comments on morphological terminology. Brittonia 60(1): 1-10.

Luteyn, J. L. & P. Pedraza-Peñalosa. 2007. Rapid color guide to the Ericaceae of the National Park Machu Picchu.

Pedraza-Peñalosa, P., J. Betancur & P. Franco-Rosselli. 2005. Chisacá, un Recorrido por los P·ramos Andinos. 2nd Ed. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales e Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt. Bogot·, Colombia. 340 pages.