The QMEE CDT Project proposal database

Welcome to the QMEE CDT Project proposal database. This is a live list of projects proposals put forward by PIs across the CDT partner institutions

PIs/Supervisors will continue to add projects to this list over the next few months, so do keep checking back! You can search the projects using the box below: simply enter some text and press Search to do a text search across all the database fields. If you want to search more finely, the search tool also allows you to search on particular details of the project descriptions: you will see these finer search options appear if you click on the search box.

Click on the view button next to a project to get the full proposal description. If you want to download project details, either for all projects, or for a subset you have searched for, then click on the 'Download details' button.

To find a particular PI's email or look up other PI details, use the menu at the top of this page (PIs tab).

Biocultural Diversity and Global Estimates of Medicinal Plant Diversity
Plants are used as food, fodder, medicines, and a vast array of craft and building materials, in ways determined by both plant biology and culture [1]. Diverse wild and cultivated plant species have a high impact on societies’ well-being by providing healthcare [2] and income from the sale of wild-harvested and cultivated plants, whilst bioprospecting strategies harness traditional knowledge to identify drug leads [3]. Nevertheless, our estimates of how many medicinal plants there are remain unsophisticated. Here we will develop and apply phylogenetic methods to explore the contributions of cultural-linguistic and biotic diversity to global medicinal plant use, accounting for spatial differences in ethnobotanical sampling effort. Outputs will be robust estimates of numbers of medicinal plants and their distribution, and the role of cultural diversity and cultural identity in determining spatial patterns in the number of plant species used. The erosion of traditional knowledge of medicinal plants makes efforts to conserve knowledge particularly urgent. An online tool for curating TK of medicinal plants, linked to our predictions of medicinal plant numbers, will indicate priority regions and cultures for ethnobotanical survey. [1] Teixidor-Toneu, I, Jordan, F.M. and Hawkins, J.A. (2018) Comparative phylogenetic methods and the cultural evolution of medicinal plant use. Nature Plants, in press. [2] WHO World Health Organisation 2013 WHO traditional medicine strategy: 2014-2023. Geneva, World Health Organisation. [3] Saslis Lagoudakis CH, Savolainen V, Williamson, EM, Forest F, Wagstaff S, Baral SR, Watson M, Pendry C and Hawkins JA (2012) Phylogenies reveal predictive power of traditional medicine in bioprospecting. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 39: 15835-15840.
Julie Hawkins
Vincent Savolainen
Fiona Jordan, Anthropology, Bristol
Computing, Quantitative data analysis, Evolutionary observations / data collection
Vincent Savolainen
Data collection and collation, database management, modelling, community phylogenetics, Principal Components of Phylogenetic Structure (PCPS), generalised linear mixed models.
Testing spatial biotic and cultural diversity as drivers of spatial distribution of Traditional Knowledge, by applying phylogenetic methods to these questions, is entirely original. Linking community phylogenetic methods to exploit cultural (linguistic) and plant phylogenies in relation to spatial data is also novel.
A relationship between biodiversity and cultural diversity has been evidenced elsewhere, and explanations for the relationship are the focus of ongoing research. Our project fits this area of evolutionary theory, though we are testing for a relationship between Traditional Knowledge held by different cultures, cultural diversity and biodiversity.
Medicinal plants are a valuable resource; understanding the drivers of their selection by different peoples, and estimating how many there are will be fundamental to realising their value and whilst contributing to their conservation and sustainable use.
The online tool we propose would focus attention on areas where Traditional Knowledge of medicinal plant use is under-recorded. Research to record traditional knowledge before it is lost is urgent; identification of knowledge gaps will enable a global view so that research can be directed to be maximally effective.
This project is highly multidisciplinary, since it is co-supervised by biologists and an anthropologist, and makes use of linguistic phylogeny. Fiona Jordan (Anthropology) is author of the "big data era" resource for anthropologists, D-place. We will use D-place data in our study, as well as large ethnobotanical and biological data sets.
Systematics and taxonomy, Ecological/Evolutionary tools, technology & methods
Training will be provided in handling large phylogenies, data collection and development of online tools for sharing data, community phylogenetics, phylogenetic predictivity, Principal Components of Phylogenetic Structure (PCPS), generalised linear mixed models.
University of Reading, Imperial College London and University of Bristol.
2019-05-28 10:11:09