Person Details: J. L. Luteyn
J. L. Luteyn ( James L. Luteyn)
Author, Collector, Determiner
United States of America, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia
My research on flowering plants involves systematics of the neotropical montane flora. Within this context I have travelled extensively in the high mountains of Mexico, Central America, and South America, particularly in the Andes including Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Boliva. The major focus of my work addresses the origin and evolution, biology, and taxonomic diversity of the Ericaceae--the heath, rhododendron, and blueberry family. I search the wet Andean cloud forests looking for wild relatives of our native blueberries and cranberries. I study the ecology of their natural habitats and preserve specimen samples for the Herbarium. I also collect floral material to make detailed studies of their morphology and dna-containing leaf material for molecular analysis in the laboratory with a colleague from North Carolina. Whenever possible, I also make a photographic record of all species and collect living material for cultivation in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. In addition to my long-term monographic studies in the family Ericaceae, I also study the general floristics of Andean cloud forests and páramos. Páramos are high-elevation, grass-shrub ecosystems ranging from Costa Rica to northern Peru that are located above timberline and below perpetual snow. Publishing the results of my research completes my program. I have already finished regional floristic inventories of the Ericaceae for Panama, Nicaragua, and the entire Mesoamerican region, Ecuador, and the Guayana Highland of Venezuela. I have also prepared monographic revisions of selected ericaceous genera for the series Flora Neotropica, as well as for other international botanical journals. These treatments present detailed descriptions of the plant species, distributional and nomenclatural data, diagnostic illustrations, discussions of relationships, local names and economic uses when known, and keys to the identification of the species. Much of this data is presented in my "Neotropical Blueberries" website. Furthermore, I have recently authored a book about páramo plant diversity that includes a checklist of all mosses, hepatics, lichens, and vascular plants, a list of all páramo localities, and an index to botanical literature. That study provides basic data for determining unique páramo areas in need of conservation. I am currently writing another book with several colleagues that will include taxonomic keys to all the páramo families and genera of vascular plants.