What is it about?

Species names can be messy in forest tree species. In this paper, we looked at the species naming scheme for an over-exploited tree genus in the mahogany family, Cedrela. We found that a simplified species naming scheme is more genetically accurate for Cedrela, and we discuss how changes to species names could help the conservation of these species. In the process, we supported previous findings of cryptic species and make inferences about how the landscape may have appeared when Cedrela colonized South America around 19 million years ago.

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Why is it important?

Our study used 168 natural history specimens and targeted sequencing of 10,000 genomic regions and shows that species names can obscure genetic lineages. The Cedrela species count is in flux with more species being described since the publication of the last monograph. This paper provides useful background information for how newly identified species may fit into the genus. This study suggests there are additional forests in South America that should be sampled to address remaining questions concerning cryptic species and how many South American Cedrela species remain to be discovered.


We think this paper provides a view of "what's next" for Cedrela. Our template sequences and analysis methods are publicly available for researchers to add additional species or populations to this dataset. We hope this stimulates discussion and encourages further exploration of the morphology, ecology, and lineage relationships in Cedrela.

Kristen Finch
University of Washington

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cryptic species diversity in a widespread neotropical tree genus: the case of Cedrela odorata, American Journal of Botany, September 2022, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/ajb2.16064.
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