(734) 647-2585


1518 Museums Building
1109 Geddes Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48108-1079


Robyn  Burnham

- Associate Curator (Vascular Plants)
- Associate Professor EEB

Academic Background

Ph.D. University of Washington

Fields of study

Tropical ecosystems and paleoecology of northern South America


Professor Burnham is currently involved in research on climbing plants of the Amazon Basin, especially in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia on the lower flanks of the Andes Mountains. Her interests are in the community structure and species composition of Amazonian forests, as viewed via the lianas and vines that inhabit these forests. Particular interest has recently been focused on the impacts of human intervention in Amazonian forests from oil exploration, agriculture and gold mining. Continuing work on the paleontological history of the forests of Northern South America is carried out in her lab as well, with ongoing research in the intermontane basins of Ecuador and the eastern basins of Bolivia.

Select publications

Burnham, R.J. and C. Revilla-Minaya 2011. Phylogenetic Influence On Twining Chirality in Lianas From Amazonian Peru. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 98(2): 196-205.

Garrido-Pérez, E. I. and R. J. Burnham 2011. The evolution of host specificity in liana-tree interactions. Revista Puente Biológico 3:145-157.

Burnham, R.J. and G.S. Tonkovich 2011. Climate, Leaves, and the Legacy of Two Giants. New Phytologist 190(3): 514-516.

DeWalt, S.J., S.A. Schnitzer, J. Chave, F. Bongers, R.J. Burnham, Z. Cai, G. Chuyong, D.B. Clark, C.E N. Ewango, J.J. Gerwing, E. Gortaire, T. Hart, G. Ibarra-Manríquez, K. Ickes, D. Kenfack, M.J. Macía, J. Makana, M. Martínez-Ramos, J. Mascaro, S. Moses, H.C. Muller-Landau, M.P.E. Parren, N. Parthasarathy, D.R. Pérez-Salicrup, F.E. Putz, H. Romero-Saltos, and D. Thomas 2010. Annual Rainfall and Seasonality Predict Pan-tropical Patterns of Liana Density and Basal Area. Biotropica 42(3):309-317.

Burnham R.J. 2009. An overview of the fossil record of climbers: bejucos, sogas, trepadoras, lianas, cipós, and vines. Revista Brasileira de Paleontologia 12(2): 149-160.

Bennington, J.B., W. DiMichele, C. Badgley, R. Bambach, P. Barrett, K. Behrensmeyer, R. Bobe, R.J. Burnham, T. Daeschler, J. vanDam, J. Eronen, D. Erwin, S. Finnegan, S. Holland, G. Hunt, D. Jablonski, S. Jackson, B. Jacobs, S. Kidwell, P. Koch, M. Kowalewski, C. Labandeira, C. Looy, K. Lyons, P. Novack-Gottshall, R. Potts, P. Roopnarine, C. Strömberg, H. Sues, P. Wagner, P. Wilf, & S.Wing, 2009. Critical Issues of Scale in Paleoecology. Palaios 24(1-2):1-4.

Fine, P.A.V., R. Ree, and R.J. Burnham 2008. The disparity in tree species richness among tropical, temperate and boreal biomes: The geographic area and age hypothesis. Pp. 31-45 in Tropical Forest Community Ecology, W.P. Carson & S.A. Schnitzer (eds.), Blackwell Scientific.

Burnham, R.J. 2008 Hide and Go Seek: What does presence mean in the fossil record? Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 95(1):51-71. 10.3417/2007002

Gerwing, J.J., S.A. Schnitzer, R.J. Burnham, F. Bongers, J. Chave, S.J. DeWalt, C. E.N. Ewango, R.B. Foster, David Kenfack, M. Martinez-Ramos, M. Parren, N. Parthasarathy, D.R. Pérez-Salicrup, F. E. Putz, and D.W. Thomas. 2006 A Standard Protocol for Liana Censuses. Biotropica 38(2): 256-261. 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00134.x

Burnham, R.J., K.R. Johnson, and B. Ellis 2005 Modern tropical forest taphonomy: Does high biodiversity affect paleoclimatic interpretations? Palaios 20:439-451. Honorable Mention Paper

Burnham, R.J. and N.L. Carranco 2004. Miocene winged fruits of Loxopterygium (Anacardiaceae) from the Ecuadorian Andes. American Journal of Botany 91(11): 1767-1773.

Burnham, R.J. and K.R. Johnson 2004. South American paleobotany and the origins of neotropical rainforests. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, series B. 359:1595-1610. 10.1098/rstb.2004.1531

Burnham, R.J. 2004. Alpha and Beta Diversity of Lianas in Yasuní National Park, Ecuador. Forest Ecology and Management 190:43-55. 10.1016/j.foreco.2003.10.005

Burnham, R.J. 2002. Dominance, diversity and distribution of lianas in Yasuní, Ecuador: who is on top? Journal of Tropical Ecology 18:845-864. 10.1017/S0266467402002559

Burnham, R.J., 2002. Climbers of Yasuní National Park, Ecuador and their importance in tropical forests. Pp. 181-210 in Memorias del Tercer Congreso Botanico del Ecuador. A. Freire-Fiero y D. Neill, eds.

Burnham, R.J. 2001. Is Conservation Biology a Paleontological Pursuit? Palaios 16(5):423-424.

Burnham, R.J., N.C.A. Pitman, K.R. Johnson and P. Wilf. 2001. Habitat-related error in estimating temperatures from leaf margins in a humid tropical forest. American Journal of Botany 88(6): 1096-1102.

Sanchez-Villagra, M.R., R.J. Burnham, D. Campbell, R.M. Feldmann, E.S. Gaffney, R.F. Kay, R. Lozsan, R. Purdy, and J.G.M. Thewissen 2000. The Fauna and flora from a new near-shore marine assemblage of early Neogene age from northwestern Venezuela. Journal of Paleontology 74(5): 957-968.

Burnham, R.J. 2000. Plants (Adaptive Strategies). In R. Singer, ed. Encyclopedia of Paleontology. Fitroy Dearborn Publishers.