I want to thank my advisor, Jan Barber, for all these years of teaching, support, trust, advice and guidance. I also thank each of the members of my dissertation committee, Gerardo Camilo, Vicki Funk, Allison Miller, Jason Knouft and Peter Raven, for all the constructive feedback and enlightening discussions.
My most sincere appreciations for the students who contributed to building the database for Espeletiinae: Camilo Cadena, Matthew DeAngelo, Eduardo García Milagros, Hannah King, Aleksandar Radosavljevic, Nicolás Rodríguez, Paulo Vinzon and Lila Wahidi.
I would like to acknowledge the many friends and colleagues who contributed as field assistants: Camilo Cadena, Andrés Diavanera, Elí Flores, Carlos Gómez, Jennifer Gruhn, Rachel Jabaily, César Alirio Leal, Llizeth Mantilla, Clara Quintero, Diego Rodríguez, Nicolás Rodríguez, Susana Rodríguez, César Sanabria, Roberto Sánchez, Jessica Sarmiento, the park rangers of Pisba, Chingaza, Tamá and Denira, the guides of Clorofila Urbana and many others. Without their considerable help, this project could not have been accomplished. Additional plant samples were provided by Fernando Alzate, Rodrigo Camara, Mauricio Castilblanco, Filip Kolar, Betsy V. Rodríguez, Oscar Salazar, Petr Sklenář and Simón Uribe-Convers.
I thank local collaborators in Colombia: Camilo Cadena, Santiago Madriñán and Roberto Sánchez; and in Venezuela: Gilberto Morillo and Luis ‘Kike’ Gamez. Thanks to Petr Sklenář and Filip Kolar from Czech Republic for their support and collaboration with the Venezuelan collecting permits. I thank Carlos Parra, from COL, and Santiago Madriñán and his lab students at the ANDES herbarium, for providing working and storage facilities at their respective herbaria in Colombia, and helping with the collecting permits. Collections and DNA extractions were made under permits No. 2698 of 09/23/2009 and No. 2 of 02/03/2010 (Colombia), and IE-126 (Venezuela, authorized by Petr Sklenář). Special thanks to the institutions and herbaria that opened to the author their collections and shared the databases, especially: ANDES, CAS, COL, CUVC, F, FMB, HECASA, HUA, K, MER, MO, NY and US. I want to thank Santiago Díaz-Piedrahita and Harold Robinson for their always wise advice. I want to express my admiration and acknowledgement for the illustrations of new species made by Lauren Merchant.
I am also grateful for the contributions of many undergraduate and graduate students to the molecular analyses: Christine Abboud, Emily Adamson, Anna Belia de los Santos, Rachel Fauser, Ameera Haider, Hannah King, Shaun Patel, Amith Reddy and Geetha Sridharan. Five students and colleagues deserve our most special acknowledgments for their contributions to the lab work: Talita Carvalho, Shih-Hui Liu, Maria Pinilla, Carolina Romero and Carolina Sánchez.
Ecological modeling would not have been possible without the high-performance cluster at Saint Louis University (http://rocks64.slu.edu/) and without the technical support from Eric Kaufmann, Keith Hacke and David Gruenewald. Many thanks to Eric Westhus for advice on building the codes for R, and to Wasit Wulamu for the access to the GIS laboratory.
Special thanks to Monica Carlsen for her constant comments, support and advice on the phylogenetic analyses. We also thank the Missouri Botanical Garden friends and colleagues for their comments and support, especially John Pruski, Peter Hoch and Mick Richardson.
Saint Louis University has been a wonderful institution and I really want to thank each of the faculty, students and friends who for years made me feel at home. Especially I want to thank Krista Boysen, Alejandra Domic, Kerstin Edberg, Jack Kennell, Chrissy McAllister, Peter Sangthien, Rob Wood, and Ming Zhu.
My greatest appreciations and thanks to all my friends and family, who supported me unconditionally; and to Diana Chaves, who walked with me through the good and bad moments of life for many years. Finally, to my two little cats, Manfred† and Nimué, who took care of me and inspired me constantly.
This project has received funding from multiple institutions, professional societies and granting agencies including Saint Louis University, the National Science Foundation (as a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, DEB 1011624), the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Society for Systematic Biologists, American Society of Plant Taxonomist, Botanical Society of America, Idea-Wild Foundation, the Neotropical Grassland Conservancy and the Fondo Colombia Biodiversa of the Fundación Alejandro Ángel Escobar.