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ODU Botanist Timothy Motley is on Expedition in Papua New Guinea

Timothy Motley, the J. Robert Stiffler Distinguished Professor of Botany and Horticulture at Old Dominion University, set out in a small boat from the main island of Papua New Guinea on Friday, Jan. 16, to begin a three-week exploration of the nation's remote Louisiade Archipelago.

Motley is part of a team of researchers that is collecting plants and data in order to compile a botanical conservation assessment of the little-explored archipelago. Other scientists taking part in the project are from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, New York Botanical Garden, Botanical Research Institute of Texas and Conservation International. (Motley, at left , is pictured with John Mitchell of the New York Botanical Garden on the main island.)

Susan Pell, a researcher with the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, is producing an expedition blog at http://bbg.org/blogs/expedition.

The team arrived in on the main island on Jan. 10 and spent several days getting the necessary government permits and buying provisions in the capital city of Port Moresby and in Alotau. In the archipelago they will visit some of the remotest regions of Misima, Rossel and Sudest islands.

Motley is an expert on Pacific flora, focusing on the molecular systematics of the coffee family (Rubiaceae) and the strychnine family (Loganiaceae). He has worked throughout the islands of the Pacific for more than a decade and uses both traditional and molecular systematics techniques to investigate plant evolution in island systems.

In 2000, Motley conducted field research in Papua New Guinea that led to documenting the origin of breadfruit and a better knowledge of the relationship of genus Timonius (Rubiaceae) with other species of the Pacific.

As the Stiffler Distinguished Professor, Motley is on the ODU faculty and also associated as a researcher with the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

This article was posted on: January 16, 2009

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