FIU PhD Candidates Haydee Borrero (major advisor Dr. Hong Liu) and Nichole Tiernan (major advisor Dr. Javier Francisco-Ortega) were recently hosted Dr. Ramona Oviedo-Prieto and Julio Montes de Oca at the Instituto de Ecología y Sistemática in Havana, Cuba. This trip contributed to the dissertation research of both graduate students. Tiernan studies the taxonomy and systematics of Caribbean occurring Plumeria (Apocynaceae), commonly known as Frangipani. Although several species of Plumeria are common to tropical gardens, little is known about many of the wild growing species endemic to the Caribbean Islands. Tiernan presented her preliminary work on Plumeria to the botanical community at Quinta de Los Molinas. Borrero studies the tropical orchid Trichocentrum undulatum (Mule Ear Orchid) found in both southern Florida and Cuba. She compares habitat types, herbivores, and overall population health between countries. The team visited the Western part of Cuba including the living collection and herbarium at el Jardín Botánico de Pinar del Río, La Estación Biológica el Cuabal-Milcumbres-La Palma, in addition to localities in Guanahacabibes, Viñales, Cajálbana, and Ceiba Mocha.
This trip was funded by the Botany in Action Fellowship through Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden, the student travel grant through the American Society of Plant Taxonomy, and the Judith Parker Travel Scholarship through FIU.
Photo below. Team participants (Left to Right: Dr. Oviedo, Montes de Oca, Borrero, Tiernan) in Cajalbana protected area, Pinar del Río.