UC SPARK - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Dr Pieter Pelser

Biological Sciences

Fields of Research

  • Plant systematics
  • Studying and documenting plant diversity
  • Plant taxonomy
  • Conservation genetics
  • Philippine vascular plant diversity
  • Plant photography

Researcher Summary

The evolutionary history of Tribe Senecioneae:
Senecioneae is one of the largest tribes in the Asteraceae (ca. 3,100 species and 155 genera), has a nearly cosmopolitan distribution, and shows remarkable morphological and ecological diversity. To better understand the evolutionary success of Senecioneae and similarly large plant groups, we are taking a molecular phylogenetics approach to study the evolutionary relationships and mode and tempo of diversification of the Senecioneae

The biodiversity and conservation of Philippine Rafflesia:
The genus Rafflesia (Rafflesiaceae) is one of the few parasitic plants that are entirely contained within the tissue of their host plants. Rafflesia only emerges to produce its spectacular flowers, which are the largest of all flowering plants. Our studies of Philippine Rafflesia aim to make this charismatic genus an icon of conservation by demonstrating how knowledge of the taxonomic diversity, ecology, and evolutionary history of Rafflesia contributes to its conservation.

Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines:
Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines (CDFP; www.philippineplants.org) is an online checklist of Philippine vascular plants that aims to present a continuously updated account of all native and naturalized species of vascular plants in the Philippines with diagnostic photographs for each taxon. It is the only publicly available overview of the vascular plants of the Philippines.

Subject Area: Disciplines

Research Projects

Research Groups

Key Methodologies

  • Molecular phylogenetics
  • Conservation genetics
  • Alpha taxonomy

Research/Scholarly/Creative Works

Journal Articles
  • Pelser PB., Nickrent DL., Gemmill CEC. and Barcelona JF. (2017) Genetic diversity and structure in the Philippine Rafflesia lagascae complex (Rafflesiaceae) inform its taxonomic delimitation and conservation. Systematic Botany 42(3): 543-553. http://dx.doi.org/10.1600/036364417X696186.
  • Pyšek P., Pergl J., Essl F., Lenzner B., Dawson W., Kreft H., Weigelt P., Winter M., Kartesz J. and Nishino M. (2017) Naturalized alien flora of the world: species diversity, taxonomic and phylogenetic patterns, geographic distribution and global hotspots of plant invasion. Preslia 89: 203-274. http://dx.doi.org/10.23855/preslia.2017.203.
  • Wright SA., Hutchison M., Hale ML., Gemmill CEC., de Lange PJ. and Pelser PB. (2017) A preliminary conservation genetic study of Pittosporum obcordatum (Pittosporaceae), an endemic New Zealand species with a disjunct distribution. New Zealand Journal of Botany 55(4) 424-438 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0028825X.2017.1363789.
  • Pelser PB., Doble KJS., O Byrne P., Ormerod P. and Barcelona JF. (2016) Gastrodia cajanoae (Orchidaceae: Epidendroideae: Gastrodieae), a new species from the Philippines. Phytotaxa 266(1): 53-56. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.266.1.9.
  • Pelser PB., Nickrent DL. and Barcelona JF. (2016) Untangling a vine and its parasite: Host specificity of philippine rafflesia (rafflesiaceae). Taxon 65(4): 739-758. http://dx.doi.org/10.12705/654.4.
  • Pelser PB., Nickrent DL., Reintar ART. and Barcelona JF. (2016) Lepeostegeres cebuensis (Loranthaceae), a new mistletoe species from Cebu, Philippines. Phytotaxa 266(1): 48-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.266.1.8.
  • Arnet M., Santos B., Brockerhoff EG., Pelser PB., Ecroyd C. and Clemens J. (2015) Importance of arboreta for ex situ conservation of threatened trees. Biodiversity and Conservation 24(14): 3601-3620. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10531-015-1024-3.
  • de Lange PJ., Liew CS., Rolfe JR. and Pelser PB. (2015) Senecio esperensis (Asteraceae: Senecioneae) - a new combination for the L'Esperance Rock groundsel, Kermadec Islands. New Zealand Journal of Botany 53(3): 131-138. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0028825X.2015.1039552.
  • van Kleunen M., Dawson W., Essl F., Pergl J., Winter M., Weber E., Kreft H., Weigelt P., Kartesz J. and Nishino M. (2015) Global exchange and accumulation of non-native plants. Nature 525(7567): 100-103. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14910.
  • Barcelona JF., Manting MME., Arbolonio RB., Caballero RB. and Pelser PB. (2014) Rafflesia mixta (Rafflesiaceae), a new species from Surigao del Norte, Mindanao, Philippines. Phytotaxa 174(5): 272-278. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.174.5.3.
  • de Lange PJ., Rolfe JR., Liew CS. and Pelser PB. (2014) Senecio australis Willd. (Asteraceae: Senecioneae) - a new and uncommon addition to the indigenous vascular flora of New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Botany 52(4): 417-428. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0028825X.2014.973421.
  • Journé V., Barcelona JF., Lafrankie JV. and Pelser PB. (2014) Stylidium javanicum (Stylidiaceae), a new triggerplant record for the Philippines. Phytotaxa 186(2): 113-116. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.186.2.6.
  • Molina J., Hazzouri KM., Nickrent DL., Geisler M., Meyer RS., Pentony MM., Flowers JM., Pelser PB., Barcelona J. and Inovejas SA. (2014) Possible loss of the chloroplast genome in the parasitic flowering plant Rafflesia lagascae (Rafflesiaceae). Molecular Biology and Evolution 31: 793-803. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/molbev/msu051.
  • Barcelona JF., Nickrent DL., LaFrankie JV., Callado JRC. and Pelser PB. (2013) Co's Digital Flora of the Philippines: plant identification and conservation through cybertaxonomy. Philippine Journal of Science 142(Special Issue): 57-67.
  • Pelser PB. and Barcelona JF. (2013) Discovery through photography: Amyema nickrentii, a new species of Loranthaceae from Aurora Province, Philippines. Phytotaxa 125(1): 47-52. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.125.1.7.
  • Pelser PB., Nickrent DL., Callado JRC. and Barcelona JF. (2013) Mt. Banahaw reveals: The resurrection and neotypification of the name Rafflesia lagascae (Rafflesiaceae) and clues to the dispersal of Rafflesia seeds. Phytotaxa 131(1): 35-40. http://dx.doi.org/10.11646/phytotaxa.131.1.6.
  • Roda F., Ambrose L., Walter GM., Liu HL., Schaul A., Lowe A., Pelser PB., Prentis P., Rieseberg LH. and Ortiz-Barrientos D. (2013) Genomic evidence for the parallel evolution of coastal forms in the Senecio lautus complex. Molecular Ecology 22(11): 2941-2952. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.12311.
  • Kirk H., Vrieling K., Pelser PB. and Schaffner U. (2012) Can plant resistance to specialist herbivores be explained by plant chemistry or resource use strategy? Oecologia 168(4): 1043-1055. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00442-011-2179-6.
  • Mennes CB., Smissen RD. and Pelser PB. (2012) AFLP analyses do not provide support for recognizing Brachyglottis saxifragoides as a species distinct from B. lagopus (Asteraceae; Senecioneae). New Zealand Journal of Botany 50(4): 489-495. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0028825X.2012.727441.
  • Nordenstam B. and Pelser PB. (2012) Caputia, a new genus to accommodate four succulent South African Senecioneae (Compositae) species. Compositae Newsletter 50: 56-69.
  • Pelser PB., Abbott RJ., Comes HP., Milton JJ., Möller M., Looseley ME., Cron GV., Barcelona JF., Kennedy AH. and Watson LE. (2011) The genetic ghost of an invasion past: colonization and extinction revealed by historical hybridization in Senecio. Molecular Ecology 21(2): 369-387. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05399.x.
  • Balete DS., Pelser PB., Nickrent DL. and Barcelona JF. (2010) Rafflesia verrucosa (Rafflesiaceae), a new species of small-flowered Rafflesia from eastern Mindanao, Philippines. Phytotaxa 10: 49-57.
  • Pelser PB., Kennedy AH., Tepe EJ., Shidler JB., Nordenstam B., Kadereit JW. and Watson LE. (2010) Patterns and causes of incongruence between plastid and nuclear Senecioneae (Asteraceae) phylogenies. American Journal of Botany 97(5): 856-873. http://dx.doi.org/10.3732/ajb.0900287.
  • Pelser PB., Tepe EJ., Kennedy AH. and Watson LE. (2010) The fate of Robinsonia (Asteraceae): sunk in Senecio, but still monophyletic? Phytotaxa 5: 31-46.
  • Nordenstam B., Pelser PB. and Watson LE. (2009) Lomanthus, a new genus of the Compositae-Senecioneae from Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Compositae Newsletter 47: 33-40.
  • Nordenstam B., Pelser PB. and Watson LE. (2009) The South African aquatic genus Cadiscus (Compositae-Senecioneae) sunk in Senecio. Compositae Newsletter 47: 28-32.
  • Pelser PB. (2009) Het belang van moleculaire kenmerken voor de plantensystematiek. Gorteria 33(4/6): 133-139.
  • Pelser PB. (2009) The importance of molecular characters for plant systematics. Gorteria 33(4-6): 133-139.
  • Wang LY., Pelser PB., Nordenstam B. and Liu JQ. (2009) Strong incongruence between the ITS phylogeny and generic delimitation in the Nemosenecio-Sinosenecio-Tephroseris assemblage (Asteraceae: Senecioneae). Botanical Studies 50(4): 435-442.
  • Barcelona JF. and Pelser PB. (2008) The story continues… the 8th Philippine species of Rafflesia, R. leonardi, discovered and named. Art-i-Facts 10(2): 6-6.
  • Barcelona JF., Pelser PB., Canutaje EM. and Bartolome NA. (2008) Another new species of Rafflesia (Rafflesiaceae) from Luzon, Philippines: R. leonardi. Blumea 53(1): 223-228.
  • Barcelona JF., Pelser PB., Tagtag AM. and Lilangan AP. (2008) The rediscovery of Rafflesia schadenbergiana (Rafflesiaceae). Flora Malesiana Bulletin 14(3): 162-165.
  • Hegt E. and Pelser PB. (2007) Voorkomen is beter dan bestrijden. Paard en Sport 2007(6): 70-71.
  • Pelser PB., Nordenstam B., Kadereit JW. and Watson LE. (2007) An ITS phylogeny of tribe Senecioneae (Asteraceae) and a new delimitation of Senecio L. Taxon 56(4): 1077-1104.
  • Nordenstam B. and Pelser PB. (2005) Dauresia and Mesogramma: one new and one resurrected genus of the Asteraceae-Senecioneae from Southern Africa. Compositae Newsletter 42: 74-88.
  • Pelser PB., De Vos H., Theuring C., Vrieling K. and Hartmann T. (2005) Frequent gain and loss of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the evolution of Senecio section Jacobaea (Asteraceae). Phytochemistry 66: 1285-1295.
  • Pelser PB. and Houchin R. (2004) Taxonomic studies on Senecio aquaticus (Asteraceae). A recommendation for the taxonomic status of Aquaticus and Barbareifolius. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 145: 489-498.
  • Pelser PB., Van den Hof K., Gravendeel B. and Van der Meijden R. (2004) The systematic value of morphological characters in Senecio sect. Jacobaea (Asteraceae) as compared to DNA sequences. Systematic Botany 29(3): 790-805.
  • Pelser PB. (2003) De ontmanteling van de Helmkruidfamilie (Scrophulariaceae). Gorteria 29: 117-123.
  • Pelser PB., Gravendeel B. and Van der Meijden R. (2003) Phylogeny reconstruction in the gap between too little and too much divergence: the closest relatives of Senecio jacobaea (Asteraceae) according to DNA sequences and AFLPs. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 29: 613-628.
  • Pelser PPB. (2003) Disassembling the Scrophulariaceae. Gorteria 29(5): 117-124.
  • Pelser PB. (2002) Spoorzoeken in de Orchideeën: naamsveranderingen als consequenties van modern systematisch onderzoek. Gorteria 28: 113-118.
  • Pelser PB. (2002) Waarom classificaties steeds veranderen: voorbeelden uit de Sleutelbloemfamilie (Primulaceae). Gorteria 28: 89-92.
  • Pelser PB., Gravendeel B. and Van der Meijden R. (2002) Tackling speciose genera: species composition and phylogenetic position of Senecio sect. Jacobaea (Asteraceae) based on plastid and nrDNA sequences. American Journal of Botany 89(6): 929-939.
  • Pelser PB., Kruijer H. and Verpoorte R. (2002) What is the function of oil-containing rudimentary branches in the moss Canalohypopterygium tamariscinum? New Zealand Journal of Botany 40: 149-153.
  • Pelser PPB. (2002) Tracking evolutionary relationships in Orchids: Name changes as a consequence of modern systematic research. Gorteria 28(5): 113-118.
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Moleculaire evolutie in de systematiek. Gorteria 26: 249-250.
  • Pelser PB., Gravendeel B. and De Vogel EF. (2000) Revision of Coelogyne section Fuliginosae (Orchidaceae). Blumea 45: 253-273.
Other
  • Gould KS. and Pelser PB. (2014) Editorial. New Zealand Journal of Botany 52(2): 161-162. Royal Society of New Zealand.
  • Pelser PB., Lambert M., Young LM. and Norton DA. (2013) An illustrated checklist of the flora of the University of Canterbury Cass Mountain Research Area. www.biol.canterbury.ac.nz/cmra-checklist/. http://www.biol.canterbury.ac.nz/cmra-checklist/. [Website (2013 onwards)].
Authored Books
  • Bodegom S., Pelser PB. and Kessler PJA. (1999) Seedlings of secondary forest tree species of East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Amsterdam: Tropenbos Foundation.
Chapters
  • Barcelona JF., Pelser PB., Balete DS. and Co LL. (2011) Conservation status of Philippine Rafflesia and their habitat. In David M; de Jesus AC; Barcelona JF (Ed.), Rafflesia of the Philippines: A story of adventure, appetite, and affinity: 132-133. Manila: Energy Development Corporation.
  • Barcelona JF., Pelser PB., Balete DS. and Co LL. (2011) Introduction to Philippine Rafflesia (Rafflesiaceae). In David M; de Jesus AC; Barcelona JF (Ed.), Rafflesia of the Philippines: A story of adventure, appetite, and affinity: 44-45. Manila: Energy Development Corporation.
  • Barcelona JF., Pelser PB., Balete DS. and Co LL. (2011) Key to Philippine Rafflesia and Taxonomy. In David M; de Jesus AC; Barcelona JF (Ed.), Rafflesia of the Philippines: A story of adventure, appetite, and affinity: 60-119. Manila: Energy Development Corporation.
  • Barcelona JF., Pelser PB., Balete DS. and Co LL. (2011) Remarks on the conservation status of Philippine lowland forests. In David M; de Jesus AC; Barcelona JF (Ed.), Rafflesia of the Philippines: A story of adventure, appetite, and affinity: 146-147. Manila: Energy Development Corporation.
  • Jones C., Montelle C., Pratt A., Pickles K., Rack U., Holdaway RN., Pelser PB. and Sykes WR. (2011) Exploration & Discovery. In Jones C; Matthews B; Clement J (Ed.), Treasures of the University of Canterbury Library Christchurch: Canterbury University Press.
  • Funk VA., Anderberg AA., Baldwin BG., Bayer RJ., Bonifacino JM., Breitwieser I., Brouillet L., Carbajal R., Chan R. and Coutinho AXP. (2009) Compositae Meta-trees: The Next Generation. In Funk VA; Susanna A; Stuessy T; Bayer R (Ed.), Systematics, Evolution & Biogeography of the Compositae: 747-777. Vienna: IAPT.
  • Nordenstam B., Pelser PB., Kadereit JW. and Watson LE. (2009) Senecioneae. In Funk VA; Susanna A; Stuessy T; Bayer R (Ed.), Systematics, Evolution & Biogeography of the Compositae: 503-525. Vienna: IAPT.
  • Pelser PB. and Watson LE. (2009) Introduction to Asteroideae. In Funk VA; Susanna A; Stuessy T; Bayer R (Ed.), Systematics, Evolution & Biogeography of the Compositae: 495-502. Vienna: IAPT.
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Araliaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Bignoniaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Melastomataceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Meliaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Piperaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Simaroubaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Tiliaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Urticaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
  • Pelser PB. (2000) Verbenaceae. In Kessler PJA (Ed.), Secondary Forest Trees of Kalimantan, Indonesia A Manual to 300 Selected Species
Oral Presentations
  • Pelser PB. (2017) Molecular genetic approaches to resolving patterns and processes in the New Zealand flora. Christchurch: U3A, 21 Jul 2017.
  • Pelser PB. and Liew CS. (2017) What is Senecio glaucophyllus? A very complicated story with an unexpected end. Christchurch: Canterbury Botanical Society, 07 Aug 2017.
  • Pelser PB. and Barcelona JF. (2016) Preliminary findings of a conservation genetic study of Rafflesia lagascae (Rafflesiaceae; Philippines). Edinburgh, UK: 10th International Flora Malesiana Symposium, 11 Jul 2016.
  • Pelser PB. (2015) Interpreting species descriptions and botanical terminology. University of St. La Salle, Bacolod, Philippines: University seminar, 11 Dec 2015.
  • Pelser PB. (2015) What’s in a name? Demystifying botanical nomenclature. University of the Philippines, Diliman, Philippines: 3rd Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society Inc. International Symposium, 27 Nov 2015.
  • Pelser PB. and Barcelona JF. (2015) Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines - discovery through photography. Dunedin: New Zealand Plant Conservation Network 2015 Conference, 28 Oct 2015.
  • Pelser PB. and Barcelona JF. (2015) Co’s Digital Flora of the Philippines – Discovery through photography. University of St. La Salle, Bacolod, Philippines: University seminar, 11 Dec 2015.
Theses / Dissertations
  • Pelser PB. (2004) In search of the closest relatives of Senecio jacobaea: systematic studies in Senecio sect. Jacobaea (Asteraceae). Leiden, Netherlands. Leiden University.