What is occurring now against science and scientists in the U.S. goes beyond ideology and political party. Now we find our discourse under attack.


The Barrington Group at the University of Vermont is a community of scholars and students working together on an array of inquiries into the diversity and evolution of spore-dispersed plants, especially ferns and clubmosses. Our current fascination is with the biogeography and diversification rates of these plants and the ecological and geological variables that determine these patterns.

Though we usually work on ferns (notably Grammitidaceae, Polystichum, Phegopteris, Dryopteris, Matteuccia, and Polypodium) and Lycophyes (Huperzia and Phlegmariurus), we have been known to work on flowering plants (including Carex and Lathyrus) as well. All of our projects include molecular genetic analysis of the plants: our data sets include an array of chloroplast and nuclear DNA markers. A continuing theme in the lab is the understanding of hybridization and polyploidy in speciation histories.

Among our nuclear markers PGIc is especially prominent. One of the long-term goals in our lab is the exploration of the whole PGI gene with the goal of an integrated understanding the evolution of introns and exons in this gene, ideally with reference to environmental variables such as temperature optima for gene function. At the moment, we have about two-thirds of the gene sequenced for an array of Andean polystichums. Ultimately, we want to apply these insights into discovering more about the patterns and history of genetic diversity in Matteuccia struthiopteris in Vermont and elsewhere.

At the same time, we are deeply interested in the evolution of plant structures, so we have developed a number of tools for representing plant structural features and analyzing them phylogenetically.

Cathy Paris works closely with us in developing our research projects; she has her own website here.