Dr Erin Tripp
Ph.D., Duke University, 2008 • Associate Professor
Clare Small Building, basement - Herbarium (office)
Ramaley Hall, C105 (lab)

Research Interests

Plant Systematics, Tropical Botany, Lichenology, Biodiversity Inventory, Molecular Genetics and Evolution, Taxonomy, Nomenclature, Pollination Biology.

As a biologist, I am broadly interested in the ecology and evolution of all life on Earth, particularly how natural selection and contingency have shaped the evolution of millions of “endless forms most beautiful”. As a natural historian, I am interested in patterns and trends that characterize the histories of these endless forms. Knowledge of evolutionary history is empowering, has real-world applications, and predictive potential.

In attempt to understand the evolution of biodiversity and the ecological functions that biodiversity sustains, I focus on macroevolutionary approaches at or above the species level. Most of my research emphasizes the species-rich (>4,000 taxa) and morphologically diverse tropical plant family Acanthaceae. More recently, I have advanced research in lichenology, particularly here in the United States where amazingly, some 230 years after Bartram first traversed the Southeast, we still know incredibly little about these organisms from taxonomic and biogeographic perspectives. In addition to biodiversity research on Acanths and lichens, I have maintained a long-term interest in the flora of the tepui highlands of northern South America, where I have participated in or co-led numerous plant collecting expeditions to remote locations in effort to provide baseline plant biodiversity information for these highly endemic ecosystems.

Selected Publications

Tripp, E.A. In Press. Field Guide to the Lichens of White Rocks Open Space. University Press of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado. 

Tripp, E.A. and J.C. Lendemer. In Press. Candelariella clarkiae and Lecidea hoganii: two lichen species new to science from White Rocks Open Space, City of Boulder, Colorado. The Bryologist.

Tripp, E.A. In Press. Lichen inventory of White Rocks Open Space (Boulder, Colorado). Western North American Naturalist.

Tripp, E.A. and J.C. Lendemer. 2014. Sleepless nights: when you cannot find anything to use in describing new taxa but molecules. TAXON 63: 969-971.

Tripp, E.A.  and M. Fekadu**. 2014. Comparative leaf and stem anatomy in selected species of Ruellieae (Acanthaceae) representative of all major lineages. Kew Bulletin 69: 9543 (8 pgs).

Lendemer, J.C., E.A. Tripp, and J. Sheard. 2014. Review of Rinodina Ach. in the Great Smoky Mountains highlights the significance of this “island of biodiversity” in North America. The Bryologist 117: 259-281.

Tripp, E.A. and L.A. McDade. 2014. A rich fossil record yields calibrated phylogeny for Acanthaceae (Lamiales) and evidence for marked biases in timing and directionality of intercontinental disjunctions. Systematic Biology 63: 660-684.

Tripp, E.A. and L.A. McDade. 2014. Time-calibrated phylogenies of hummingbirds and hummingbird-pollinated plants reject hypothesis of diffuse co-evolution. Aliso 31: 89-103.

Lendemer, J.C., R.C. Harris, and E.A. Tripp. 2013. Lichens and Lichenicolous Fungi of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden Press: Bronx, New York, 260 p.

Tripp, E.A. and K.E. Hoagland. 2013. Typifying an era in biology through synthesis of biodiversity information. Taxon 62: 899-911.

Tripp, E.A. S. Fatimah*, I. Darbyshire, and L.A. McDade. 2013. Origin of African Physacanthus (Acanthaceae) Via Wide Hybridization. PLoS ONE 8: e55677.

Tripp, E.A., T.F. Daniel, S. Fatimah*, and L.A. McDade. 2013. Phylogenetic relationships within Ruellieae (Acanthaceae), and a revised classification. International Journal of Plant Sciences 174: 97-137.

Tripp, E.A. and S. Fatimah*. 2012. Comparative anatomy, morphology, and molecular phylogenetics of the African genus Satanocrater (Acanthaceae). American Journal of Botany 99: 967-982.

Tripp, E.A. and J.C. Lendemer. 2012. Not too late for American biodiversity? BioScience 62: 218-219.

Tripp, E.A. 2010. Taxonomic revision of Ruellia sect. Chiropterophila (Acanthaceae): a lineage of rare and endemic species from Mexico. Systematic Botany 35: 629-661.

Tripp, E.A. and P.S. Manos. 2008. Is floral specialization an evolutionary dead-end? Pollination system transitions in Ruellia (Acanthaceae). Evolution 62: 1712-1737.