Keynote Speakers

Christine Bacon
University of Gothenburg

"Parallel divergence across scales"

Abstract:  Environmental heterogeneity across the landscape can lead to lineage divergence and adaptationParallel ecological 
divergence is the repeated independent evolution of the same reproductive isolating mechanism. When parallel divergence is 
observed, it serves as strong evidence for 
the role of natural selection in adaptive evolution. I will review relevant concepts 
about these processes and then present our study system, a palm species complex that exhibits distinct morphotypesdefined 
by their leaf morphologywhich occur repeatedly and sympatrically across western Amazonia. Results from data of genomics
morphologyclimatesoil chemistryand reproductive biology are used to test for parallel divergence under gene flow. I will 
also present new, preliminary results from low coverage genomes of different leaf types. I will then put our results into 
context by comparing it to other systems and close by emphasizing the importance of understanding the evolution of biodiversity.

Rosane Collevatti
Universidade Federal de Goiás

"Bridging population genetics, genomics and macroecology to understand the evolution of Neotropical palms"

AbstractSpecies from the Neotropics have undergone geographical distribution modifications during the Neogene and the Quaternary, affecting the spatial distribution of genetic diversity. The geographical distribution dynamics may have caused spatial genome sorting as the species expanded tracking suitable environments. Confounding effects due to the spatial correlation of climatic gradients, geographical space and recolonization routes may hinder the disentangling of neutral genetic structure and selection. Thus, unravelling the effects of demographical history and selection in extant genetic diversity is important to better understand the evolution of species distributions. Here I will talk about the interplay between adaptation and genetic drift as a driver of palm species evolution. Particularly, I will discuss the evolutionary success characterizing the high abundance and broad geographical range of the hyperdominant species Mauritia flexuosa, and the evolution of three Acrocomia species with different geographical distributions.

Thomas Couvreur
Pontifícia Universidad Católica del Ecuador

"Global conservation status of palms: where we are and what we need to achieve"

AbstractPalms are iconic plants of the tropicsbut we have yet to know the overall extinction threat its species face. Here I review the current IUCN status of palms worldwide and highlight some iconic examples of conservation efforts. I undertake a global analysis of palm preliminary conservation status using GBIF data and IUCN methodsFinally, I introduce the IUCN Species Specialist Group for Palms and its role in the global conservation of this family.      

William J. Baker
Royal Botanic Gardens

"The future of palm taxonomy"

AbstractDespite the many challenges of working with palms, the state of knowledge of palm diversity is relatively well-advanced. With a robust checklist of all species, a genus-level monograph and many monographs at species level, and a complete, synthetic phylogeny of all species, we may be forgiven for thinking that the job is done. However, as the twin global crises of climate change and biodiversity extinction start to bite, are we really delivering what is needed? Drawing on experiences of an ongoing monograph of the palms of New Guinea and palm phylogenetics, I will offer personal some reflections on the state of palm taxonomy and the steps we must take as a community to ensure our efforts best serve a planet in peril. 





Ángela Cano (Cambridge University Botanic Garden, England) & Fred Stauffer (Ville de Genève, Switzerland)
Since the last World Palm Symposium held in Colombia in 2015, major palm groups throughout all subfamilies have been taxonomically revised, and important progress has been made in the reconstruction of phylogenetic relationships within the family. This section seeks to gather the authors of those interesting works with the aim of including the presentation of recently revised clades, genera and species complexes, regional treatments (e.g. field guides), and the latest advances on palm phylogenetics. The latter, with the advent of Next Generation Sequencing methods, have accelerated our understanding of phylogenetic relationships at different taxonomic scales, and allowed fine resolution at the species level. Thanks to the studies implementing those methods, palm scientists are getting closer to a complete species phylogeny of palms.
Cintia Freitas (UFPR, Brazil) & Wolf Eiserhardt (Aahrus University, Denmark)
The union of classical biogeography theory and hypotheses with modern phylogenetic techniques has reinvigorated large-scale studies of biodiversity. Currently, this union also facilitates the synthesis of ecology and evolution to further contribute to determining the origin and maintenance of plant diversity across the globe. Beyond that, the field of macroecology has contributed to understanding large-scale patterns of colonization, species distribution, ecological associations and the formation of the main extant biomes. Arecaceae is one of the best-known plant families in terms of phylogenetic relationships and distribution, and therefore, highly suitable for studying the processes that shaped the biodiversity we see today. Here we will provide a general overview of the state of knowledge, methodologies, and future directions within the field of biogeography, macroecology, and evolution of palms as a means to understand the processes underpinning plant diversity overall.

Caroline Dracxler (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands)  & Alexandra Pires (UFRRJ, Brazil)
Interactions between plant and animal species are biologically important relationships that can influence the abundance, distribution and genetic composition of the organisms involved. Plant-animal interactions are often established on the basis of resource exploitation by the animals (e.g. nectar-feeding and frugivory), but plants can also benefit from these interactions (e.g. effective pollination and seed dispersal). Palms are an ideal model group to investigate how plant-animal interactions are structured along communities and ecosystems and how they influence plant dynamics, genetic diversity and species distribution because they are highly diverse, abundant, widely distributed and provide key resources for animals. In this section we aim to showcase some fascinating research examples of how species traits and distribution shape plant-animal interactions, their outcomes and patterns, to illustrate how animals (or their lack thereof) can influence palm ecology and evolution.


Suelen Alves Vianna (Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC), São Paulo, Brazil) & Bruno Francisco Sant’Anna-Santos (Universidade Federal do Paraná - UFPR, Brazil)
Palms have morphological, anatomical, and biochemical characteristics that are unique within the plant kingdom, and therefore constitute a widely diverse group of plant species – making them both challenging and interesting to study. Studies focusing on understanding how those characteristics differ, and how they combine to form the species that we know today, are fundamental to understanding the evolutive history of the Arecaceae family and their correct botanical characterization. That information will also aid in the elaboration of geographic distribution maps of the species as well as the construction of sound conservation strategies that can orient the sustainable use of their valuable natural resources.


Rita Portela (UFRJ, Brazil) & Thaise Emilio (Unicamp, Brazil)
Ecological studies focus on the effects of biotic and abiotic factors on the distribution and abundance of organisms, allowing the integration as well as the disentanglement of mechanisms underlying structural patterns at community- and population-level. Palms are an excellent study model in ecology because they play a key functional and structural role on ecosystems mainly due to their overall high abundances and the resource provisioning for a wide assemblage of animals, which in turn play important ecosystem services. Here we intend to provide an overview of the knowledge on palm ecology by illustrating fieldwork-based research that advances our understanding on ecological processes and patterns and highlights different aspects that make palms an important element of tropical and subtropical ecosystems.

Monica Moraes (Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia) & Evandro José Linhares Ferreira (INPA, Brasil)
Palms are very important for human subsistence and generate incomes for their well-being. Based on ethnobotanical work and ethnoecological surveys, case studies at the international level are illustrated. The utility and conservation include current patterns in traditional knowledge of peoples and the construction of new ecosystems. Conservation status assessment is considered as a tool to protect uses and reduce threats as well as ex situ conservation efforts in botanical gardens.








While PALMS 2021 Online does not arrive, we are preparing lectures with incredible professionals (and palm lovers)!

Check out quality content made for all of you, while staying safe at home.



1 - Carl von Martius (1794-1868): Discovering the neotropical biodiversity
It is an amazing talk to celebrate the 200 years of Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius expedition in Brazil by Fred Stauffer from the Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques, Geneve, Switzerland.


2 -  Emblems of tropical forests - Their diversity and conservation by Dr. Henrik Balslev

In this lecture, Henrik Balslev R, from the Department of Biology at the University of Aahrus, Denmark, will show us why palm trees are so emblematic in tropical forests. Join us to celebrate the wonder of palm trees and learn more about their diversity and conservation.


3 - Perspectives on Neotropical Palms Macroecology by Dra. Cintia Gomes de Freita


4 - Why is the double coconut {Lodoicea maldivica (J.F.Gmel Pers.] so big? By Dra. Sidonie Bellot from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew - Richmond, London.


5 - Losin our palms: the influence of landscap - scale deforestation on Arecaceae diversity in the Atlantic forest by Dra. Maíra Benchimol (UESC - Brazil)


6 - Habitat loss and the persistence of a keystone species (Euterpe edulis) in the Brazilian Atlantic forest by Dra. Eliana Cazetta (UESC - Brazil) 



7 - The relationship between palms and megafaunal frugivores: the impact of past and future defaunation by Dr. Jun Ying Lim (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)


8 - Integration and harmonization of trait data from plant individuals across heterogeneous sources by Tim Lenters (Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics - University of Amsterdam)


9 - The Global abundance of tree palms by Dr. Bob Muscarella ( Uppsala University, Sweden)