2018 Annual Symposium Program Honorary Membership Award

IAVS Honorary Member for 2018 - Dr. Laco Mucina

The IAVS Awards Committee has announced that this year's Honorary Membership has been awarded to Dr. Laco Mucina. Dr. Mucina will accept his richly-deserved award in a special ceremony to be held at the IAVS 2018 Symposium on the afternoon of Monday, July 23 (see Program Outline). After a Laudatio by Dr. Bob Peet and Dr. Milan Chytrý, Dr. Mucina will present his acceptance speech, the title and abstract of which follows.

Pain in the paradise: evolutionary ecology of nutrient-poor biomes of the world

There are places on this planet which almost defy logic: they are stressed, extremely nutrient poor and yet – they support flora of unprecedented diversity, deep evolutionary history, and diverse vegetation types showing intricate patterns ecological and evolutionary assembly. These places are of associated with regions called hotspots of diversity and endemism, and with habitats might have served as refugia during periods of adverse climate and other, associated large-scale disturbances such as increased fire frequency. Besides being ecologically and evolutionary appealing subject to study, the high biodiversity of these habitats is rivaled only by the mesmerizing beauty of vegetated landscapes and colors of its flowers.

Ecology of biomes calls these places ‘peinobiomes’; these are biotic communities supported by nutrient-deprived (hungry) landscapes. The low status of available phosphorus, nitrogen, and other vital resources for plants create highly-stressful soils supporting azonal vegetation and are driving the patterns and dynamics of the ecological community assembly short-term. Many landscapes of the Southern Hemisphere dominated by peinobiomes are characterised by lack of tectonic rejuvenation (hence retarded replenishment of soil nutrients and hence producing nutrient-poor regolith), relative climatic stability (in terms of increased levels of predictability of the climate dynamics), and large-scale, long-term predictable disturbance (involving recurrent fire having a regenerative agent in providing short-term nutrient-supply, and at the same time acting as disruptor of local populations creating opportunities for isolation and later reunion and hence opening possibilities for genetic restructuring, that in turn would underpin speciation processes. The spatial coincidence of peinobiomes and these Old Stable Landscapes is the major source of survival of palaeo-geographically old habitat complexes, supporting both ancient plant relict lineages as well as evolutionary young lineages resulting from local rapid radiations. These evolutionary processes, as well as the plethora of ecological adaptations to low nutrients, lead to high gamma diversity (very rich floras) and unprecedented species turnover across habitats in these landscapes. Southern Hemisphere, preserving the oldest (and possibly also most diverse) biotic communities on this planet is home to iconic peinobiomes. Here are invite you for a journey spanning tropical, subtropical and warm-temperate peinobiomes of South America, including Guyanan Pantepui system, Campos rupestre, Southern Africa with famous Fynbos of the Cape and less famous, yet equally intriguing Sourvelds, and Australasia featuring SW Australian Kwongan, Top End ancient sandstone plateaus, and enigmatic maquis miniers of Nouvelle-Caledonie. Models of the evolution of traits pools and (endemic) species diversity will attempt to explain how the abundance and beauty of those treasured corners of our home came about.


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