2023 in plant life

A western Joshua tree in bloom near Mojave, California. (jby)

Following on from my post of 2023 bird photography highlights, here’s some of my favorite flowering plant images I captured in 2023. Flowers are, of course, easier photography subjects, but I’m still learning how to balance lighting and depth of field to really capture details with the most aesthetic interest and botanic value.

Above, the example with the greatest professional value: Joshua trees in flower this spring, after record-breaking winter rainfall across a lot of the Mojave Desert.

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New publication: A genetic fingerprint of coevolutionary diversification

A red milkweed beetle, Tetraopes tertophthalmus, on its host plant (jby)

A new paper from the lab — coauthored with all three of the Yoder Lab’s graduate student alumni — is now online ahead of print in the journal Evolution Letters. In it, we analyze population genetic data from 20 pairs of plants and herbivores, parasites, and mutualists that live intimately on those plants to test for evidence that the associate species’ population genetic structure aligns with that of their host plants. This is an expected result if adaptation to the host plant drives diversification of the associates — and we found that it is indeed a recurring pattern. This is a pretty neat result, and, I think, a nice contribution to a long-established literature on how intimate associations with plants has driven the diversification of groups like butterflies and beetles.