Dean G. Kelch

1001 Valley Life Sciences Bldg., #2465
Berkeley, CA 94720-2465

(510) 642-2465
dkelch at
The Baldwin Lab

Dean Kelch is an Assistant Researcher with the University and Jepson Herbaria, where he conducts plant systematic research and teaches Introduction to California Plant Life. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan. Moving west, he immediately became enamored of the rich and actively evolving flora of California. He received his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Systematic Botany from the University of California, Davis (with Grady Webster and James Doyle).

His interest in plant diversity extends from the wild to the cultivated. Dr. Kelch served as Director of the Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, California from 1997-2000. He was a research Associate at The Jepson Herbaria from 1996-2004. He currently serves as president of the San Francisco Succulent and Cactus Society.

Research interests: phylogeny and evolution of major seed plant groups

The conifers have been of continued research interest to Kelch; as a lineage of limited size, conifers are useful for illuminating biogeographical patterns and evolutionary strategies, including character evolution and ecological shifts. Podocarpaceae, as the most morphologically diverse group of conifers, has been the focus of much of his research. Although usually interpreted as typically Gondwanan, evidence from the Cretaceous of Asia indicates that Podocarpaceae contains Laurasian elements. Evidently, disjunctions due to rafting of segments of Gondwana to Laurasia in the Late Jurassic explain the origins and distributions certain Podocarpaceae. Dr. Kelch is now working on a collaborative systematic study of Podocarpaceae that will combine data from different molecular markers to increase the confidence levels of our phylogenetic inferences in the group.

Dean Kelch is interested in how the study of natural groups including narrow endemic and widespread taxa, can inform our land management decisions and our understanding of patterns of evolution. His investigations of the phylogeny and evolution of North American thistles (Cirsium spp.) were originally inspired by his desire to investigate the narrow endemics occurring in this group generally viewed as weedy. This research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the USDA National Biological Control Institute; an important goal is to facilitate host specificity testing for potential biocontrol agents of weedy thistles. He has found that North American Cirsium have low genetic diversity considering the high ecological and geographic differences between species of the group. This result is particularly striking when comparing the California endemic species to other groups of California neoendemics.

Selected Publications

Wolf P.D., K. G. Karol, D. F. Mandoli, J. Kuehl, K. Arumuganathan, M. W. Ellis, B. D. Mishler, D.G. Kelch, R. G. Olmstead, and J. L. Boore. The first complete chloroplast genome sequence of a lycophyte, Huperzia lucidula (Lycopodiaceae). Gene. In press.

Kelch, D. G., B. Mishler and A. Driskell. 2004. Inferring phylogeny using genomic characters: a case study using land plant plastomes. Molecular Systematics of Bryophytes, ed. B Goffinet. Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Saint Louis.

Kelch, D. G. and A. McClay. 2004. Putting the phylogeny into the centrifugal phylogenetic method. Proceedings of the XI International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, James Cullen, Ed. (CSIRO), Melbourne, Australia

Kelch, D. G. and B. G. Baldwin. 2003. Phylogeny and ecological radiation of New World thistles (Cirsium, Cardueae -- Compositae) based on ITS and ETS rDNA sequence data. Molecular Ecology 12: 141-151.

Kelch, D. G. 2002. Phylogenetic assessment of the monotypic genera Sundacarpus and Manoao (Coniferales: Podocarpaceae) utilizing evidence from 18S rDNA sequences. Australian Systematic Botany 15: 29-35.