Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

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W. John Kress

W. John Kress

Research Botanist & Curator

Phone: 202-633-0920, 202-633-0939
Fax: 202-786-2563
E-mail Address:

Postal Address
(Mail and Packages):

Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Courier Address:
National Museum of Natural History
West Loading Dock
10th and Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20560-0166

     Graduate School: Ph.D. (Botany) 1981, Department of Botany, Duke University, Durham, NC. (Advisor: D.E. Stone),
     College: B.A. (Biology) 1975, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. (Advisor: P.B. Tomlinson).

Research Interests
     Systematic Biology: systematics of Heliconia and other Zingiberales, especially with regards to reproductive biology, allozyme and molecular variation, and cladistic relationships; generic concepts in the Zingiberales; phylogeny and evolution of the monocotyledons.`Evolutionary Biology: plant reproductive biology; the evolution of breeding and pollination systems; genetic diversity and speciation in tropical angiosperms.`Conservation Biology: forest fragmentation, gene flow, and genetic variation in tropical and temperate plant species.

Recent Publications - (All Publications)

Betts, Matthew G., Hadley, Adam S. and Kress, W. J. 2015. Pollinator recognition by a keystone tropical plant. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, doi:10.1073/pnas.1419522112

Chen, Juan, Zhao, Jietang, Erickson, David L., Xia, Nianhe and Kress, W. John 2015. Testing DNA barcodes in closely related species of Curcuma (Zingiberaceae) from Myanmar and China. Molecular Ecology Resources, 15(2): 337-348. doi:10.1111/1755-0998.12319

García-Robledo, Carlos, Staines, Charles L. and Kress, W. J. 2015. A new species of bromeliad-feeding Cephaloleia Chevrolat (Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cassidinae) from Costa Rica: evidence from DNA barcodes, larval and adult morphology and insect diets. Zookeys, 477: 143-155. doi:10.3897/zookeys.477.8220

Kress, W. J., García-Robledo, Carlos, Uriarte, Maria and Erickson, David L. 2015. DNA barcodes for ecology, evolution, and conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 30(1): 25-35. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2014.10.008

Shapcott, Alison, Forster, Paul I., Guymer, Gordon P., McDonald, William J. F., Faith, Daniel P., Erickson, David and Kress, W. J. 2015. Mapping Biodiversity and Setting Conservation Priorities for SE Queensland's Rainforests Using DNA Barcoding. PloS One, 10(3) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0122164

Zhao, Jian-Li, Xia, Yong-Mei, Cannon, Charles H., Kress, W. J. and Li, Qing-Jun 2015. Evolutionary diversification of alpine ginger reflects the early uplift of the Himalayan–Tibetan Plateau and rapid extrusion of Indochina. Gondwana Research, doi:10.1016/

Erickson, David L., Jones, Frank A., Swenson, Nathan G., Pei, Nancai, Bourg, Norman, Chen, Wenna, Davies, Stuart James, Ge, Xue-jun, Hao, Zhanqing, Howe, Robert W., Huang, Chun Lin, Larson, Andrew J., Lum, Shawn K., Lutz, James, Ma, Keping, Meegaskumbura, Madhava, Mi, Xiangcheng, Parker, John D., Sun, I. Fang, Wright, S. Joseph, Wolf, Amy T., Xing, Dinglian, Zimmerman, Jess K. and Kress, W. John 2014. Comparative evolutionary diversity and phylogenetic structure across multiple forest dynamics plots: a mega-phylogeny approach. Frontiers in Genetics, doi:10.3389/fgene.2014.00358

Lasky, Jesse R., Uriarte, María, Boukili, Vanessa K., Erickson, David L., John Kress, W. and Chazdon, Robin L. 2014. The relationship between tree biodiversity and biomass dynamics changes with tropical forest succession. Ecology Letters, 17(9): 1158-1167. doi:10.1111/ele.12322

Lasky, Jesse R., Uriarte, María, Boukili, Vanessa K., Erickson, David L., Kress, W. John and Chazdon, Robin L. 2014. Corrigendum to "The relationship between tree biodiversity and biomass dynamics changes with tropical forest succession". Ecology Letters, 17(11): 1478 doi:10.1111/ele.12370

Martin, Adam R., Erickson, David L., Kress, W. John and Thomas, Sean C. 2014. Wood nitrogen concentrations in tropical trees: phylogenetic patterns and ecological correlates. New Phytologist, 204(3): 484-495. doi:10.1111/nph.12943

Muscarella, Robert, Uriarte, María, Erickson, David L., Swenson, Nathan G., Zimmerman, Jess K. and Kress, W. John 2014. A well-resolved phylogeny of the trees of puerto rico based on DNA barcode sequence data. PloS One, 9(11): 1-11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112843

Côrtes, Marina C., Uriarte, María, Lemes, Maristerra R., Gribel, Rogério, Kress, W. John, Smouse, Peter E. and Bruna, Emilio M. 2013. Low plant density enhances gene dispersal in the Amazonian understory herb Heliconia acuminata. Molecular Ecology, 22(22): 5716-5729. doi:10.1111/mec.12495

García-Robledo, Carlos, Erickson, David L., Staines, Charles L., Erwin, Terry L. and Kress, W. John 2013. Tropical Plant–Herbivore Networks: Reconstructing Species Interactions Using DNA Barcodes. Plos One, 8(1): e52967 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0052967

García-Robledo, Carlos, Kuprewicz, Erin K., Staines, Charles L., Kress, W. John and Erwin, Terry L. 2013. Using a comprehensive DNA barcode library to detect novel egg and larval host plant associations in a Cephaloleia rolled-leaf beetle (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 110(1): 189-198. doi:10.1111/bij.12115

Gowda, Vinita and Kress, W. John 2013. A Geographic Mosaic of Plant–Pollinator Interactions in the Eastern Caribbean Islands. Biotropica, 45(2): 224-235. doi:10.1111/j.1744-7429.2012.00915.x

Swenson, Nathan G., Mi, Xiangcheng, Kress, W. John, Thompson, Jill, Uriarte, María and Zimmerman, Jess K. 2013. Species-time-area and phylogenetic-time-area relationships in tropical tree communities. Ecology and Evolution, 3(5): 1173-1183. doi:10.1002/ece3.526

Temeles, Ethan J., Rah, Y. J., Andicoechea, J., Byanova, K. L., Giller, G. S. J., Stolk, S. B. and Kress, W. John 2013. Pollinator-mediated selection in a specialized hummingbird-Heliconia system in the Eastern Caribbean. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 26(2): 347-356. doi:10.1111/jeb.12053

Cron, Glynis V., Pirone, Cary, Bartlett, Madelaine, Kress, W. John and Specht, Chelsea 2012. Phylogenetic Relationships and Evolution in the Strelitziaceae (Zingiberales). Systematic Botany, 37(3): 606-619. doi:10.1600/036364412X648562

Erickson, David L. and Kress, W. John 2012. Future directions. In: DNA Barcodes: Methods and Protocols. Humana Press,(Methods in molecular biology) pp.459-465.

Gowda, Vinita, Erickson, David L. and Kress, W. John 2012. Development and characterization of microsatellite loci for two Caribbean Heliconia (Heliconiaceae: H. bihai and H. caribaea). American Journal of Botany, 99(2): e81-e83. doi:10.3732/ajb.1100386

Gowda, Vinita, Kress, W. John and Htun, Thet 2012. Two new species of Gingers (Zingiberaceae) from Myanmar. Phytokeys, 13: 5-14. doi:10.3897/phytokeys.13.2670

Gowda, Vinita, Temeles, Ethan J. and Kress, W. John 2012. Territorial Fidelity to Nectar Sources by Purple-throated Caribs, Eulampis Jugularis. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 124(1): 81-86. doi:10.1676/11-061.1

Kress, W. J. and Erickson, David L. 2012. DNA barcodes: methods and protocols. In: DNA Barcodes: Methods and Protocols. Humana Press,(Methods in molecular biology) pp.3-8.

Kress, W. J., Lopez, Ida C. and Erickson, David L. 2012. Generating Plant DNA Barcodes for Trees in Long-Term Forest Dynamics Plots. In: Kress, W. J. and Erickson, David L., DNA Barcodes. Humana Press,(Methods in Molecular Biology) pp.441-458.

Mi, Xiangcheng, Swenson, Nathan G., Valencia, Renato, Kress, W. John, Erickson, David L., Perez, Alvaro J., Ren, Haibao, Su, Sheng-Hsin, Gunatilleke, Nimal, Gunatilleke, Savi, Hao, Zhanqing, Ye, Wanhui, Cao, Min, Suresh, H. S., Dattaraja, H. S., Sukumar, R. and Ma, Keping 2012. The Contribution of Rare Species to Community Phylogenetic Diversity across a Global Network of Forest Plots. American Naturalist, 180(1): E17-E30. doi:10.1086/665999

Nicole, Silvia, Negrisolo, Enrico, Eccher, Giulia, Mantovani, Roberto, Patarnello, Tomaso, Erickson, David L., Kress, W. John and Barcaccia, Gianni 2012. DNA Barcoding as a Reliable Method for the Authentication of Commercial Seafood Products. Food Technology and Biotechnology, 50(4): 387-398.

Specht, Chelsea D., Yockteng, Roxana, Almeida, Ana Maria, Kirchoff, Bruce K. and Kress, W. John 2012. Homoplasy, Pollination, and Emerging Complexity During the Evolution of Floral Development in the Tropical Gingers (Zingiberales). Botanical Review, 78(4): 440-462. doi:10.1007/s12229-012-9111-6

Swenson, Nathan G., Erickson, David L., Mi, Xiangcheng, Bourg, Norman Alan, Forero-Montana, Jimena, Ge, Xuejun, Howe, Robert, Lake, Jeffrey K., Liu, Xiaojuan, Ma, Keping, Pei, Nancai, Thompson, Jill, Uriarte, María, Wolf, Amy T., Wright, S. Joseph, Ye, Wanhu, Zhang, Jinlong, Zimmerman, Jess and Kress, W. John 2012. Phylogenetic and Functional Alpha and Beta Diversity in Temperate and Tropical Tree Communities. Ecology, 93(8): S112-S125. doi:10.1890/11-0402.1

Swenson, Nathan G., Stegen, James C., Davies, Stuart James, Erickson, David L., Forero-Montaña, Jimena, Hurlbert, Allen H., Kress, W. John, Thompson, Jill, Uriarte, María, Wright, S. Joseph and Zimmerman, Jess K. 2012. Temporal turnover in the composition of tropical tree communities: functional determinism and phylogenetic stochasticity. Ecology, 93(3): 490-499. doi:10.1890/11-1180.1

Fleming, Theodore H. and Kress, W. John 2011. A brief history of fruits and frugivores. Acta Oecologica, 37(6): 521-530. doi:10.1016/j.actao.2011.01.016

Gagnon, Paul R., Bruna, Emilio M., Rubim, Paulo, Darrigo, Maria Rosa, Littell, Ramon C., Uriarte, Maria and Kress, W. John 2011. Growth of an understory herb is chronically reduced in Amazonian forest fragments. Biological Conservation, 144(2): 830-835. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.11.015

Jones, F. A., Erickson, David L., Bernal, Moises A., Bermingham, Eldredge, Kress, W. John, Herre, Edward Allen, Muller-Landau, Helene C. and Turner, Benjamin L. 2011. The Roots of Diversity: Below Ground Species Richness and Rooting Distributions in a Tropical Forest Revealed by DNA Barcodes and Inverse Modeling. Plos One, 6(9): 1-10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024506

Kress, W. J. and Penev, Lyubomir 2011. Innovative electronic publication in plant systematics: PhytoKeys and the changes to the "Botanical Code" accepted at the XVIII International Botanical Congress in Melbourne. PhytoKeys, 6: 1-4.

Martén-Rodríguez, Silvana, Kress, W. John, Temeles, Ethan J. and Meléndez-Ackerman, Elvia 2011. Plant–pollinator interactions and floral convergence in two species of Heliconia from the Caribbean Islands. Oecologia, 167(4): 1075-1083. doi:10.1007/s00442-011-2043-8

Nicolè, Silvia, Erickson, David L., Ambrosi, Daria, Bellucci, Elisa, Lucchin, Margherita, Papa, Roberto, Kress, W. John and Barcaccia, Gianni 2011. Biodiversity studies in Phaseolus species by DNA barcoding. Genome, 54(7): 529-545. doi:10.1139/g11-018

Pei, Nancai, Lian, Ju-Yu, Erickson, David L., Swenson, Nathan G., Kress, W. John, Ye, Wan-Hui and Ge, Xue-Jun 2011. Exploring Tree-Habitat Associations in a Chinese Subtropical Forest Plot Using a Molecular Phylogeny Generated from DNA Barcode Loci. Plos One, 6(6): 1-9. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021273

Penev, Lyubomir, Stoev, Pavel, Kress, W. John, Knapp, S. and Erwin, Terry L. 2011. Cybertaxonomy, semantic markup and semantic enhancements: The PhytoKeys and ZooKeys experience. South African Journal of Botany, 77(2): 560

Westbrook, Jared W., Kitajima, Kaoru, Burleigh, J. Gordon, Kress, W. John, Erickson, David L. and Wright, S. Joseph 2011. What Makes a Leaf Tough? Patterns of Correlated Evolution between Leaf Toughness Traits and Demographic Rates among 197 Shade-Tolerant Woody Species in a Neotropical Forest. American Naturalist, 177(6): 800-811. doi:10.1086/659963

Whitfeld, T. J. S., Kress, W. John, Erickson, D. L. and Weiblen, G. D. 2011. Change in community phylogenetic structure during tropical forest succession: evidence from New Guinea. Ecography, 35(9): 821-830. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0587.2011.07181.x

Zhang, Z. Q., Kress, W. John, Xie, W. J., Ren, P. Y., Gao, J. Y. and Li, Q. J. 2011. Reproductive biology of two Himalayan alpine gingers (Roscoea spp., Zingiberaceae) in China: pollination syndrome and compensatory floral mechanisms. Plant Biology, 13(4): 582-589. doi:10.1111/j.1438-8677.2010.00423.x

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