Ken Marr has been botany curator with the Royal BC Museum since 2001. His PhD is from the University of British Columbia, where he also did post-doctoral studies before heading to China for two and a half years to study ethnobotany, specifically crop domestication of several cucurbits, at the Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (Chinese Academy of Sciences). He taught plant taxonomy courses at the University of Wyoming and the University of Montana for one year prior to beginning at the Royal BC Museum.
Ken is interested in the classification, biogeography and conservation of terrestrial vascular plants, in particular the alpine flora of northern BC. With R. Hebda and G. Allen, he is using genetic analysis (DNA markers) to trace the direction of migration of selected alpine species into BC following the most recent ice age as well as evaluating the possibility that during the most recent ice advance, plants may have survived in previously unsuspected ice-free parts of BC, counter to the prevailing viewpoint that holds that nearly all of BC (except for two coastal locations, the Brooks Peninsula on Vancouver Island and parts of Haida Gwaii), was covered in ice during this time. The results of genetic analysis of two species, mountain sorrel (Oxyria digyna), and sibbaldia (Sibbaldia procumbens), strongly suggest that some current BC populations are descendants of plants that survived in refugia, ice-free areas, during the last ice age, rather than migrating into BC from ice-free areas to the north or south.
Ken is also actively working to increase the number of specimens of plants that occur in BC but are not native to BC, especially plants that are known to be invasive. Documentation of the distributions of these species is important to those who are working to control the spread of such species.
PhD, University of British Columbia
Areas of Interest
Specialty: Vascular plant taxonomy
Areas of Expertise: Flora of western North America, especially the alpine flora of northern BC