SYSTEMATICS OF TARGETED FLAT SEDGES (CYPERUS, CYPERACEAE) OF THE AMERICAS, INCLUDING A FLORISTIC ANALYSIS OF AN IMPERILED SEDGE-RICH PRAIRIE COMMUNITY
Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
Louisiana State University and
Agricultural and Mechanical College
in partial fulfillments of the requirements of
Doctor of Philosophy
The Department of Biological Sciences
Christopher Simon Reid
B.S.F., Louisiana State University, 1997
M.S., The University of Louisiana at Monroe, 2000
Completion of this dissertation would not have been possible without the help and support of many. First, I would like to thank my major professor, Dr. Lowell Urbatsch. His support and patience are greatly appreciated, as are our many field trips together and enjoyable botanical discussions. His support was vital in my having the opportunity to teach BIOL/RNR 4020. That experience was incredibly rich. I owe him beyond measure for that opportunity.
My committee members, Drs. Meredith Blackwell and Prosanta Chakrabarty have educated and inspired me during classes, seminars, and discussions. These scientists set superb examples, and I feel fortunate to have had their influence in my graduate career. I also appreciate their support and patience with my non-traditional path.
Two other scientists were not formally on my committee, but were de facto committee members. Dr. Richard Carter has generously helped me with all aspects of this work. We shared some wonderful field trips as part of my research. I appreciate his kindness and hospitality and am fortunate to have gained from his 30 plus years of studying Cyperus. I do not know if I would have been successful without the help of Dr. Vinson Doyle. Dr. Doyle helped me considerably with computational aspects of the phylogenetic work presented herein. His computer wizardry deeply impresses me.
My friendship with Dr. David Rosen, a fellow hard-core field botanist, is greatly appreciated. Dr. Rosen was also a non-traditional student, being professionally employed full-time during his Ph.D. studies at Texas A. & M. University, proving that it could be accomplished.
Having the opportunity to teach BIOL/RNR 4020 was an immensely rich experience. Dr. Urbatsch initiated that arrangement, and other faculty in Biological Sciences and Renewable Natural Resources contributed to making that possible, including Drs. Jackie Stevens, John Lynn, Michael Kaller, and Allen Rutherford. I love teaching that class! In addition to those who made that possible, I also thank the four classes of students who took my course. I cherished every minute of teaching!
The LSU Herbarium is a first-class facility. It is staffed by wonderful people. I thank Dr. Yalma Vargas-Rodriguez, Jennie Kluse, Dr. Tim Jones, and Matthew Faldyn for help in various ways. Dr. Vargas-Rodriguez performed a considerable amount of DNA extractions and PCR for my research. I appreciate the encouragement from Ms. Kluse. She had the ability to see and point out positive things to me at times when I was feeling discouraged. While he was my classmate, I shared many stimulating conversations with Dr. Jones. His input changed my perspective on various things. I also appreciate his encouragement. Dr. Jones is someone with whom I could discuss any aspect of botany and also to whom I could vent frustrations. My classmate, Mr. Faldyn, kindly assisted with statistical analyses for Chapter 4 of this dissertation. Mr. Faldyn is one of the most positive and encouraging people I have ever met. I consider myself fortunate to know him. While he is not part of the Herbarium staff, this is the most appropriate point to acknowledge the help of Kreg Ellzey with measuring specimens of the Cyperus rigens group for Chapter 4. Mr. Ellzey’s assistance and good humor made the task of performing tedious measurements from daunting stacks of specimens infinitely more enjoyable.
The LSU Department of Biological Sciences provides a very nurturing environment in which to develop. I was struck early on in my graduate career by the warmth and acceptance of students and faculty. I would to like to thank Dr. Michael Hellberg for supporting my time extension and for forwarding his support up to the Graduate School administration.
During this research I gained several colleagues around the world. Drs. Ricardo Vanni and Gabriela Lopez hosted me during field work in Corrientes, Argentina. Drs. Mauricio Bonafacino and Gisela Sancho worked with me in Uruguay. I appreciate the continued friendship with Dr. Socorro Gonzalez in Durango, Mexico, who provided some critical specimens for the molecular component of my research. Dr. Isabel Larridon at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, has provided helpful reviews of two manuscripts from this dissertation, and has provided help and encouragement throughout my involvement with Cyperus.
I am very grateful to my employer, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries, for allowing flexibility needed to complete this program. I was kindly afforded a period of extended leave for over one year to be a “normal” graduate student. My direct supervisor, Amity Bass, was very supportive and understanding throughout this process. I greatly value the relationships with my colleagues in the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program – they are terrific biologists and people, and are the very definition of dedication to conservation. Michael Seymour provided help with Photoshop to prepare phylogenetic tree figures. Nicole Lorenz prepared Figure 15.
Access to Deer Ridge Prairie on White Lake Wetland Conservation Area was fascilitated by Schuyler Dartez, Justin Gilchrist, and Roger Cormier. Most of the coastal prairie sites studied were privately owned. I am grateful to the landowners and managers who allowed me to access these amazing sites. I thank Doug Miller with Sweet Lake Land and Oil, Bill Bruce with F-R Ranch, and Kent Ledoux and David Richard with Gray Ranch.
My field travels for this research provided wonderful experiences. These trips were made possible by funding from Coypu Foundation and the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission. I gratefully acknowledge the Department of Biological Sciences for support through teaching assistantships. Funding for a portion of the coastal prairie floristics work was provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Finally, I would like to give a special thanks to my family. My grandmother, Flora Price, and my parents, Donald and Tina Reid, have been an unfailing reservoir of emotional support during this program. My wife Maria, has provided her word processing genius to help format publications and this dissertation, and helped me with Cyperus rigens specimen measurements. Most of all, I appreciate her patience, understanding, and support. I know living the “double life” of being a professional botanist and simultaneously a graduate student has been difficult on her.