Rhododendron Research Network

Newsletter - January 15, 2019
In this issue:

Explore the breadth and depth of Rhododendron research
This newest edition of Rhododendrons International hosts a collection of review articles, written by network members, providing in-depth examination of research on Rhododendron across a broad range of disciplines, from cell physiology to ecology, evolutionary biology, horticulture, ethonobotany and medicinal chemistry. Click here to explore this journal.
Invitation to join our new literature database
Over 2.5 million scientific papers are published each year, making it increasingly difficult to locate articles relevant to Rhododendron research.

To address this problem, we built an online database of Rhododendron literature containing 2100+ references, with excellent coverage from 1990-2018, and we plan to update our references on a quarterly basis. In addition, we are working with American Rhododendron Society volunteers to add older references, some dating as far back as 1571.

We are using the freeware Mendeley, which facilitates collaboration via “Groups”. In order to comply with rules on sharing PDFs within this type of social network, we will maintain two types of groups, with the same references.

"Invite-Only" group. Anyone can join, unlimited membership. Search Rhododendron articles and promote your work to other researchers; best for those who already have access to PDFs through their institution. 

“Private” group. Only R-RN members can join, limited membership. Search articles, promote your work, and collaborate with other researchers; best for those who have difficulty obtaining PDFs. 

Click Here to join one of our literature database groups.
The Publication Highlight below describes a recent addition to our database.

Publication Highlight

Global patterns of Rhododendron diversity
A new publication by Rhododendron Research Network member Dr. Nawal Shrestha et al. uses species distributions and phylogenetic information to determine global patterns of diversity and dispersal in Rhododendron over evolutionary time, including possible dispersal routes for the genus shown above (Shrestha et al. 2018, Fig. 2). This work is part of a series of publications by Dr. Shrestha and colleagues examining various aspects of Rhododendron biodiversity, from understanding the evolutionary and climatic factors contributing to biodiversity, to considering the efficacy of different methods for preserving diversity.

Shrestha et al. 2018. Global patterns of Rhododendron diversity: The role of evolutionary time and diversification rates. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27: 913–924.

To learn more, please visit Dr. Shrestha's Webpage.
American Rhododendron Society

Apply by March 1, 2019

The American Rhododendron Society (ARS) is accepting grant applications for research in Rhododendron, due by March 1, 2019. This funding program, started in 1990, has funded over 140 research projects, covering a wide range of topics. Research areas of interest include: systematics, plant introduction, breeding, propagation, cultural practices, physiology, cytology, genetics, and the creation of research archives and databases.

Click Here to find out more about ARS research funding.

The Student Research Highlight below describes a project funded by the ARS.

Student Research Highlight

Ecological strategies of tropical Rhododendron species
Rhododendron Research Network member Dr. Melissa Whitman recently defended her dissertation at the University of Nebraska (UNL), under the supervision of Dr. Sabrina E. Russo, investigating how tropical Rhododendron leaf traits varied with habitat association along an elevation gradient. In contrast to other tropical woody plant species, for 169 Rhododendron species, the mean and variance of their functional trait values was remarkably constant across elevation (e.g. specific leaf area in cm2/g shown above, solid line indicates a significant decline; dashed line indicates non-significant). In addition, trait values varied little among species with different growth forms or edaphic associations. Such stability may be facilitated by associating with habitat types with low resource availability, or by opportunistic flexibility of growth form, especially within lower elevation areas.

This research was made possible by funding from the American Rhododendron Society, the National Science Foundation, and UNL School of Biological Sciences and collaboration with the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, Rhododendron Species Foundation, and Bovees Rare Plant Nursery. Manuscripts currently in preparation; for more information please contact Dr. Whitman at islandevolution@gmail.com or visit Dr. Whitman's Webpage.
Network Charter and 2019 Action Items Approved
In December 2018, the R-RN Steering Committee approved the following:

Network Charter - This guiding document describes our organizational purpose, structure, rules and procedures. 

2019 Action Items
Webpage improvements and additions - Led by Bob Weissman - Improve the clarity of information describing our network and participants; add the ability to conduct NCBI BLAST searches of published Rhododendron genomes and transcriptomes. 

Searchable literature database - Led by Juliana Medeiros - Expand reference list with pre-1990's collections donated by ARS members; obtain PDF copies of literature; conduct quarterly updates of new publications.

Build capacity for citizen science - Led by Robbie Hart - Create a report detailing available resources, opportunities, and challenges of a Rhododendron citizen science phenology project that combines data from private and botanical gardens. 

Build capacity for data hosting - Led by Valerie Soza - Create a report detailing potential Rhododendron data hosting opportunities, along with assessment of logistics, costs, pitfalls, and potential funding sources.

Visit the R-RN Webpage to learn more about network governance.
Advance and inspire your research and collaborations on Rhododendron
Click Here to learn more about Rhododendron Research Network
Click Here to learn more about the American Rhododendron Society
Submit Your Newsletter Items by June 7th
Jobs, grants, publications, collaborative projects, or any news about Rhododendron research, to: Juliana Medeiros, jmedeiros@holdenarb.org

You are invited to share this newsletter via email or social media:

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c/o Dr. Juliana S. Medeiros
The Holden Arboretum
9500 Sperry Rd., Kirtland, OH 44094

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