Project Overview

Reproductive Allocation and the Ecology and Physiology of Cycads

Faculty Sponsor

Eddie Watkins (




The history leading to modern land plants is littered with failed experiments. Our modern lineages are a vestige of the vast diversity that once made up the global flora. Most of us are familiar with the marked diversity of flowering plants, a group that is comprised of over 300,000 species. The magnificent coniferous forests of our coastal plains and boreal forests are largely dominated by pines and other conifers: a group referred to as gymnosperms, which has approximately 1000 species. What gymnosperms lack in species richness is made up by a diversity of unusual families to include the monotypic Ginkgo, the pines and spruces, Gnetum, and the enigmatic Cycads. Each of these lineages represent a novel combination of functional ecological, physiological, and/or reproductive traits in response to unique selective pressures. Yet, our knowledge of the functional ecology of those non-coniferous gymnosperms is unbelievably poor. The goal of this summer research is to examine the physiology of cycads to understand better 1) some of the basic physiological attributes of the lineage and 2) if female cycads have different physiological behavior relative to male plants.

Student Qualifications

Students should have taken Bio 328 or have an equivalent level of lab and field experience.

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 01/15/2017 and close on 02/07/2017

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (