Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development in Southwest China

University of Wisconsin-Madison NSF IGERT China Program

Selena Ahmed

Research Interests and Activities

    My research interests include examining human-plant interactions and assessing the biocultural diversity of managed landscapes. I am currently investigating the relationship between the management of tea production systems (of cultivated Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze and wild relatives in section Thea of Camellia; Theaceae) in Southwest Yunnan and biodiversity at the landscape, plant species and genetic levels. As a supplement to this research on tea production, I have started to work with Tibetan communities in Northwest Yunnan to explore the persistence and change of traditional butter tea consumption systems and implications on land use and community health. Historically, tea from Southwest Yunnan made an important contribution to the intake of vitamins and antioxidants for the inhabitants of Northwest Yunnan where extreme environmental conditions present high oxidative stress and limit the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. My activities as an IGERT Associate in 2008 focused on understanding transitioning patterns of agro-pastoralist livelihood strategies and diets through the lens of the beverage butter tea.


  • Ethnobotanical field methods (interviews, ecological sampling, biodiversity inventories);
  • Genetic profiling of plant resources (morphological, phytochemical and molecular)


    Biology at the City University of New York / Institute of Economic Botany at the New York Botanical Garden


    Charles Peters, Institute of Economic Botany, New York Botanical Garden

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