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Ana Maria Bedoya
I am interested in investigating the role of Andean uplift in the diversification of both plants that are restricted to rivers (Podostemaceae) and to the lentic environments that dominated in the Pebas system prior to the increase in the rate of uplift of the Andes. Previous studies investigating the effect of Andean uplift on plant diversification have focused on the study of the flora adapted to mountain habitats. However, it has also been suggested that during the late Miocene (ca.11–5 Ma), the tectonic behavior of the Andes changed the landscape in the region by transforming existing predominant standing-water ecosystems into drainage basins, characterized by the presence of fast-flowing water ecosystems such as modern rivers and streams. Also, the split of the Andes into three ranges –whose time of uplift differs from one another– provided a complex barrier that isolated to some extent the Magdalena, Orinoco, and Amazon basins.
More than 900 species of aquatic plants occur in the region, including a great diversity of growth forms and adaptations to the aquatic habit. How has the palaeogeographical history of northern South America affected the origin, evolution and diversification patterns of aquatic plant groups that inhabit it?
For over two years, I conducted field work in the Orinoco basin of Colombia, studying aquatic plants. As a Masters student in my country of origin, I explored the evolution of he aquatic habit in Ludwigia (Onagraceae), finding evidence of convergent evolution of the strictly aquatic habit in the group.