• Title: Plant Biodiversity in the Caribbean
  • Principal Investigators: Javier Francisco-Ortega
  • Funding Source: Various funding
  • Timeline: Ongoing

The Caribbean islands are a biodiversity hotspot - a region hosting thousands of species, more often than not unique to their habitat. Increasing demand for plant resources, coupled with the threats of climate change, make the classification of these plants urgent as a foundation for conservation. 

Dr. Francisco-Ortega, professor in the Institute, leads work on three distinct areas of study:

Areas of Study

More details about the below areas of study can be found here.

  • Plant biodiversity, conservation, and environmental education in Haiti

    In partnership with the Jardin Botanique des Cayes, the National Botanic Garden of the Dominican Republic and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, the team is working to provide research and education programs for plant conservation in Hispaniola, particularly focused on endemic Haitian species.  In addition, the project focuses on capacity building opportunities for botanists and environmental biologists in Haiti.


  • Plant systematics and conservation of seed plant genera endemic to the Caribbean island biodiversity hotspot

    Focused on endemic and often critically endangered species, the team leads phylogenetic studies that will help establish research and conservation priorities within key plant genera. These projects are in collaboration with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden; the National Botanic Garden of Cuba; the National Botanic Garden of the Dominican Republic; the Botanic Garden of the University of Puerto Rico; the Institute of Jamaica; the University of the West Indies; the Instituto de Ecologia y Sistematica de Cuba; and the Centro de Investigaciones y Servicios Ambientales y Tecnologicos del Holguín.

  • Conservation genetics of Caribbean cycads

    In collaboration with USDA-ARS, New York Botanical Garden, Montgomery Botanical Center, National Botanic Garden of Dominican Republic, the Bahaman National Trust, and the Institute de Ecologia y Sistematica of Cuba, this project focuses on using DNA fingerprinting techniques to document genetic diversity among populations of Zamia pumila from across the Caribbean and South Florida. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society and the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation fund.

Participating Students

  • Nichole Tiernan, PhD Candidate (graduating summer 2021)

Additional Collaborators

  • Patrick Griffith, Montgomery Botanical Center
  • Michael Calonje, Montgomery Botanical Center
  • Brett Jestrow, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden


  • 2020

    There are no publications at the moment. Please check back later.