About the Site

Important: How to cite us.

Principal Investigator

Robyn BurnhamDr. Robyn J. Burnham has deep interests in climbing plants of the Eastern United States as well as in the Amazon Basin. Her field research takes her to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and most recently to Brazil. While climbing plants of all densities and abundances are of interest to her, she has a particular fondness for the species that are common enough to be found in site after site. Why are these species so common? Are they just lucky or is there a basis for their dominance? Her most recent initiative is to Map the Oligarchic Lianas of the Amazon (MOLA), and their responses to the impacts of human intervention in forests from oil exploration, agriculture, and gold mining. In certain areas of Amazonia, these vines become monstrous, overtaking and overtopping large tracts of forest and suppressing the regenerating trees. In North America, it became clear that there was no source for information on vines and their importance. Our goals with the CLIMBERS site and project are to summarize the available information, determine the degree of invasion of climbers in forested ecosystems in the Eastern U.S., and to monitor the advance of species that are starting to “run wild.”

Major Contributors

cristineCristine Santanna: Plants were always my passion, but until I became involved with CLIMBERS, I had little exposure to the diversity, beauty, and importance of vines. CLIMBERS not only taught me a lot about vines in Michigan, but it allowed me to learn a lot about taxonomy, botanical terms, and comparative research. I graduated in 2012, and after working for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, I am glad to be back in Ann Arbor working for NAP (City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation) as a conservation worker (or nature’s doctor, as I like to call it) and I plan on passing on my knowledge about CLIMBERS to our volunteers on our nature walks! And I’ll also keep working for Robyn to quench my thirst for more CLIMBERS knowledge!

Claire Malley copyClaire Malley:  I was the mastermind behind the design of this website and I led Robyn into the modern age, with grace and patience.  I am now in a graduate program at Northwestern University where I try hard to ignore Robyn’s pleas for “HELP, SOCORRO, AJUDAME” because she generally figures it out if I give her enough time…  However I am dedicated to development of tools for accessing information on the internet on biological characteristics of local species.  Go CLIMBERS!

One individual’s involvement in the CLIMBERS project began through UROP, or rather, when they saw Robyn’s UROP ad and asked if the research could be done without the tedious UROP part. Robyn was amenable (until she saw the early work, and wasn’t so amenable, and then after the person improved became amenable again). Two years and many pages of vines later, this individual graduated, but came back after those two crazy years.

Marko MelymukaMarko Melymuka lives in Brooklyn, New York and is nearing completion of his MS in molecular biology from New York University. He has also recently begun working for Sanofi Pasteur, a century-old vaccine company.
Marko’s involvement in the CLIMBERS project began during the spring semester of his junior year at Michigan. While perusing the course catalog, a lab caught his eye: lab work, botany, species identification and field trips?! Plant Diversity was going to be a great way for naive undergrad Marko Melymuka to spend his break. So after months of trekking through knee-deep bogs in the rain, and traipsing around forests in the oppressive Michigan humidity, Marko was smitten. After the semester was over, Marko approached Dr. Burnham about a position in her lab and was hired. While there, Marko made many trips to the herbarium and greenhouse, as well as various libraries, all in the name of compiling data for as many species accounts as possible in his spare time. To this day he walks past various plants and mumbles their scientific names under his breath. Lonicera sempervirens…Aristolochia macrophylla…Calystegia sylvatica… Like a brainwashed assassin with amnesia, he doesn’t know why he knows these things as he wanders the earth, he just does.

How to cite us

If you reference information from this site, please provide a citation:

Burnham, R.J. (2008-2014). "CLIMBERS: Censusing Lianas in Mesic Biomes of Eastern RegionS."
 <http://climbers.umich.edu>. (Date Accessed).

If you reference information found in a Species Account, be sure to cite the original author, who may be listed under “Literature and websites used.” Do not duplicate images without written permission from the photographer, who is listed under “Image Credits.”