From Plant Press, Vol. 21, No. 3, July 2018.
The publication, “Grasses of Chihuahua, Mexico” (Smithson. Contr. Bot. 107: 1−380; 2018. https://dx.doi.org/10.5479/si.1938-2812.107), is a culmination of a long and fruitful collaboration between Yolanda Herrera Arrieta (Instituto Politécnico Nacional, CIIDIR, in Durango) and Paul Peterson. Chihuahua is floristically diverse, bordering the United States on the north along the Rio Grande while containing the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon), the deepest and most picturesque canyon in North America. The two scientists have known each other for more than 33 years, having first met while Peterson was on an expedition (extended camping trip) collecting grasses in Mexico doing his dissertation research on Muhlenbergia, a single-flowered chloridoid grass with a center of diversity in Chihuahua where 78 species are found. Eventually, Herrera Arrieta completed her doctoral studies in 1995 at McGill University in Montreal, also working on Muhlenbergia. The two agrostologists have coauthored 24 peer-reviewed manuscripts on grasses, ranging from floristic studies to monographs and phylogenetic classifications based on molecular DNA sequences.
After finishing a floristic treatment of grasses in Zacatecas (Herrera Arrieta, Y., P.M. Peterson, and A. Cortés Ortiz. 2010. Gramíneas de Zacatecas, México. Sida, Botanical Miscellany 32: 1−239), the two began working on compiling a list of all the known grasses in Chihuahua while verifying all grass collections from the state tallied in the Mexican National database (CONABIO). Peterson has amassed nearly 12,000 collection numbers in Mexico, of which 1,521 are grasses from Chihuahua. Many of these were incorporated in the specimen examined section, documenting the occurrence of each species.
Mexico contains about 1,215 grass species, 385 of these are included in this new treatment of the Chihuahua grasses, and 257 of these (66%) are illustrated. In the next few years Herrera Arrieta and Peterson hope to finish many grass manuscripts, two notable projects are the grasses of San Luis Potosí and a revision of Muhlenbergia for Mexico.