Australian Orchid Foundation


Project: 325/2018

Title: Australasian orchid diversification in space and time: elucidating the floristic interchange between Australia and New Caledonia in a phylogenomic framework
Applicant: Dr. Katharina Nargar and Dr. Mark Clements
Institution: Australian Tropical Herbarium and Centre for Australian National Biodiversity Research


The orchid floras of Australia and New Caledonia are characterised by high levels of endemicity, and a large proportion of species that are threatened. The two orchid floras, nonetheless have strong floristic links, evident through a high proportion of shared and closely related orchid taxa. However, the evolutionary history of the Australian and New Caledonian Orchidaceae, in particular the relative importance of diversification within each landmass and floristic interchange between them is still poorly understood.

This project aims to reconstruct the evolutionary relationships of Australasian orchid lineages based on genomic data and to infer their spatio-temporal evolution in a phylogenomic framework. We will investigate the directionality and timing of floristic interchanges between the two orchid floras and examine to what extend today’s species distributions are the result of more recent long-distance dispersals between the two countries or of biogeographic events in the deeper evolutionary history of the respective orchid lineages. The results of the phylogenomic study will be critical to re-assess the taxonomic and conservation status of rare New Caledonian species. Further, this project aims to establish and strengthen collaborations between Australian and New Caledonian orchid taxonomists through joint fieldwork, workshops and research projects.