Tomos Jones and Jordan Bilsborrow
Ornamental plants: a threat to the natural environment due to climate change?
Ornamental plants can be important in supporting native animal diversity, especially in urban areas. However, some plants can escape gardens and become noxious weeds, including the Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed. There is concern that climate change might cause some species that are currently benign to become noxious, and there are already records of this happening in some cases.
In his PhD, Tomos combines species distribution modelling of climatic suitability for ornamental plants with a strong and key element of public survey of gardeners and botanists to gain knowledge from their experiences, linking real evidence to model predications. His results will inform gardeners, the horticultural industry and legislators of which species should be of concern and will help avoid future species invasions. Tomos would use the Award to support his participation in international conferences so that he can present his work.
Towards a reliable and reproducible system for daffodil cultivar identification.
Jordan has been developing a means of identifying daffodil cultivar outside of the growing season, with a success rate of over 80%, and has explored next-generation techniques, such as molecular tools, to allow a 100% success rate. He hopes that his work will develop a toolkit that will allow rapid, reliable and reproducible identification of cultivars at any point during their growth cycle. He has now published the first annotated Narcissus plastome, which gained widespread news coverage and allowed him to connect with more people in the industry.
Jordan eventually wishes to expand his work to other species of plants, and so would use the Award to develop the key skills required for research and develop his personal skills as he looks to work in the field of horticultural taxonomy after his PhD.