Quick Links

Marcia Waterway

Marcia J. Waterway PhD.
Associate Professor and Curator of the McGill University Herbarium
marcia [dot] waterway [at] mcgill [dot] ca (E-mail)

Research interests

Dr Waterway's research interests are plant systematics, phylogeny and ecological genetics, with emphasis on the Cyperaceae. The focus of her research program is to understand the patterns of species diversity, genetic diversity and clonal diversity in plants in relation to the environments in which they grow, using the genus Carex as a model system. Patterns of species diversity vary widely among the groups of flowering plants. Within the monocotyledons, three large families account for most of the species: grasses (Poaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae) and orchids, (Orchidaceae). Each of these families has both small and large genera, with the genus Carex in the Cyperaceae being one of the ten most species-rich genera in the world. What accounts for this extreme diversity within a single group of plants? Can we identify the different evolutionary (genealogical) lineages within this genus? How is this diversity apportioned among the evolutionary lineages within Carex? What structural characteristics and ecological preferences are associated with these species-rich lineages? Can we discern biogeographic patterns related to ancient geological events or recent migrations associated with glaciation? Has there been co-evolution of this genus with its fungal pathogens? Are patterns of clonal diversity within rhizomatous species correlated with environmental heterogeneity? These are some of the questions that she and her students seek to answer in their research. The genus Carex is the largest genus in Canada and is widespread in temperate, boreal, subarctic and arctic habitats, including both wooded and open sites. Rhizomatous sedges dominate in many wetland habitats and woodland Carex species often account for as much as 10% of the herbaceous understory flora in temperate and boreal forests. In collaboration with colleagues from around the world, they are developing a phylogenetic hypothesis for the genus Carex using DNA sequence data and using this phylogeny to study character evolution and the biogeographic patterns within the genus. These studies of the correlations among lineage diversification, ecological preferences, and structural innovations contribute to understanding the evolutionary processes that generate diversity.

Recent publications

Waterway, M. J., Hoshino, T and Masaki, T. (in press) Phylogeny, species richness, and ecological specialization in Cyperaceae tribe Cariceae. Botanical Review

Waterway, M. J., and Starr, J. R. (in press) Phylogenetic relationships in tribe Cariceae (Cyperaceae) based on nested analayses of four molecular data sets. In: Columbus, J. T., E. A. Friar, C. W. Hamilton, J. M. Porter, L. M. Prince, and M. G. Simpson [eds.]. Monocots: Comparative Biology and Evolution, vol. 2, Poales. Rancho Sanata Ana Botanic Garden, Claremont, CA, U.S.A.

Dabros, A., and Waterway, M. J. (in press) Segregation of sedge species (Cyperaceae) along environmental gradients in fens of the Schefferville region, northern Quebec. R. F. C. Naczi and B. A. Ford [eds.], Sedges: uses, diversity, and systematics of the Cyperaceae. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Consaul, L. L., Gillespie, L. J., and Waterway, M. J. 2008. Systematics of North American arctic diploid Puccinellia (Poaceae): Morphology, DNA content, and AFLP markers. Systematic Botany 33: 251-261.

Consaul, L. L., Gillespie, L. J., and Waterway, M. J. 2008. Systematics of three North American polyploid arctic alkali grasses (Puccinellia, Poaceae): morphology, ploidy, and AFLP markers. Botany 86: 916-937.

Smith, T. W., and Waterway, M. J. 2008. Evaluating species limits and hybridization in the Carex complanata complex using morphology, amplified fragment length polymorphisms, and restriction fragment analysis. Botany 86: 809-826.

Smith, T. W., and Waterway, M. J. 2008. Evaluating the taxonomic status of the globally rare Carex roanensis (Cyperaceae) and allied species using morphology, and amplified fragment length polymorphisms. Systematic Botany 33:525-535.

Flinn, K., Lechowicz, M. J., and Waterway, M. J. 2008. Plant species diversity and composition of wetlands within an upland forest. American Journal of Botany 95(10): 1216-1224.

Dabros, A., and Waterway, M. J. 2008. Segregation of sedge species (Cyperaceae) along environmental gradients in fens of the Schefferville region, northern Quebec. Chap. 6 in: R. F. C. Naczi and B. A. Ford [eds.], Sedges: uses, diversity, and systematics of the Cyperaceae. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 108: 145-161. (papers from the Sedges 2002 International symposium on the uses, diversity and systematic of the Cyperaceae).

Smith, T. W., Donaldson, J.T., Wieboldt, T. F., Kauffman, G. L., and Waterway, M. J. 2006. The geographic and ecological distribution of the Roan Mountain Sedge, Carex roanensis. Castanea 71: 45-53.

Bell, G., Lechowicz, M. J., and Waterway, M. J. 2006. The comparative evidence relating to functional and neutral interpretations of biological communities. Ecology 87(6): 1378-1386.

Aldous, A.R., Dutilleuil, P., and Waterway, M. J. 2003. Phenotypic plasticity of three nutsedges (Cyperus, Cyperaceae): analysis of genotype-environment interactions. Recent Research Developments in Genetics 3: 205-231.

McIntire, E. J. B., and Waterway, M. J. 2002. Clonal structure and hybrid susceptibility to a smut pathogen in microscale hybrid zones of northern wetland Carex (Cyperaceae). American Journal of Botany 89: 666-678.

Waterway, M. J. 2002. Carex section Hymenochlaenae (Drejer) L.H. Bailey. Pp. 461-475 in: Flora of North America Editorial Committee [eds.], Flora of North America, north of Mexico, vol. 23. Magnoliophyta: Commelinidae (in part): Cyperaceae. Oxford Univ. Press, New York.