Contact Information:
Kathleen Pryer
Department of Biology
Duke University
Durham, NC 27707-0338
Telephone: 919-660-7380

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North Carolina Mountains (October 2004)

October 15-17

Exploring the Highlands Region of western North Carolina

Confronted by a need for additional taxon sampling in their molecular systematics projects, this intrepid band of explorers plotted an expedition to the Highlands region. This area encompasses Jackson, Transylvania and Macon counties of North Carolina, Oconee and Pickens counties in South Carolina and Rabun county in Georgia. The area is noted for its high rainfall (highest in the eastern USA!), numerous waterfalls and high species diversity and endemism. This fearless band of botaneers was comprised of fern enthusiasts Jordan Metzgar, Maarten Christenhusz and Sabine Hennequin, and lichenologists Emily Fraker and Monica Garcia Otalora. Realizing the need to travel in state-of-the-art comfort, lest they suffer the same fate as the Donner Party, the group acquired the Minivan of Botany. The expedition used the Highlands Biological Station as their home base and made quick strikes into Georgia, South Carolina and around North Carolina. While the lichenologists were successful in their goal of making a number of general collections, the pteridologists did not fare as well in their pursuit of several filmy fern species (Trichomanes spp. and Hymenophyllum spp.). Old herbarium localities did not pan out and severe hurricane damage made several sites inaccessible. However, these noble scientists managed to make numerous general collections and to lay the groundwork for their inevitable victorious return to the region (tentatively planned for summer 2005). The photos below tell their story. (All photos by M. Christenhusz. Text by Jordan Metzgar.)

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