Jess Rickenback

Jess Rickenback
The University of Edinburgh | UoE · School of GeoSciences

Master of Science


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I am a PhD student at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and the University of Edinburgh, working on savanna ecosystems. I am particularly interested in the understudied components of these systems, which includes the forb layer and charismatic forms such as underground trees. My research focuses on functional traits and phylogenetics associated with savanna and evolution across biomes. I have an MSc in Biodiversity & Taxonomy of Plants from RBGE and the University of Edinburgh (2017).
Skills and Expertise


Publications (3)
Ziziphus (Rhamnaceae) is a widely distributed genus across the Australasian and African tropics with unusual diversity in habit, and many species of significance to people. Here, we quantify the environmental limits of Ziziphus species and examine inter‐specific relationships among functional traits, environment, biome, and range size. We developed...
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The genus Ziziphus (Rhamnaceae) is revised for Borneo. 13 species are recognised using morphological evidence, including three new endemic species: Ziziphus cuspidata , Z. domatiata and Z. puberula . Borneo is therefore the island with the greatest known diversity of Ziziphus species. The area surrounding Mount Kinabalu is particularly diverse, wit...
Aim. In savannas, a grass dominated ground layer is key to ecosystem function via grass-fire feedbacks that maintain open ecosystems. With woody encroachment, tree density increases, thereby decreasing light in the ground layer and potentially altering ecosystem function. We investigated how light availability can filter individual grass species di...


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