Martha A. Case

Year of arrival 1994. Associate Professor. B.A., Biology, Michigan State University, Lansing, 1984; Ph.D., Botany & Plant Pathology (Plant Systematics), Michigan State University, Lansing, 1993.


·         Director of the William & Mary Herbarium

·         Director of the Biology Greenhouse



Research Interests:

My research interests are centered on plant diversity, including both the evolution and conservation of plant populations.  My evolutionary projects currently focus on how insects, particularly pollinators, shape the morphological diversity and evolution of plant populations.  I have a long-standing interest in lady’s slipper orchids which I have used for many of my field experiments.  These orchids make an excellent model system to study natural selection because they rely entirely on bees of a highly specific size and shape to achieve cross-pollination (see a video here).


My conservation interests concern the fate of floristic diversity in the face of habitat fragmentation and other global change issues.  Examples of past projects include a floristic analysis of Totuskey Creek Watershed on the Northern Neck Peninsula, analyses of lichen diversity in the Williamsburg area, and historical changes in the abundance of American ginseng.  A current available project involves measuring floristic changes in our local 600+ acre woodlot, The College Woods, over the last 30 years.  This would be a highly suitable project for students interested in continuing in plant conservation as a career, as it will develop plant identification skills in the context of ecological theory.


Students can also develop independent projects that will foster a better understanding of plant diversity and divergence mechanisms, or how to best preserve Virginia’s rare plants.  It will be especially important for undergraduate students interested in working with me to take BIO 304 (Integrative Biology: Plants) and BIO 412 (Plant Systematics) early in their programs at the college.  These courses provide fundamental background and skills necessary for work in my laboratory.  Interested students can inquire about projects by contacting, or learn more about our graduate program at


Examples of Publications (*student authors):

Case, M. A., and Z. R. *Bradford.  2009.  Enhancing the trap of lady’s slippers: a new technique for discovering pollinators yields new data from Cypripedium parviflorum (Orchidaceae).  Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 160: 1-10.


*Hodkinson, B. P., R. C. Harris, and M. A. Case. 2009. A Checklist of Virginia Lichens. Evansia 26: 64-88.


*Hodkinson, B. P., and M. A. Case. 2008. A lichen survey of Williamsburg, Virginia. Banisteria 31: 24-30


Case, M. A., K. M. *Flinn, J. *Jancaitis, A. *Alley and A. *Paxton.  2007.  Declining abundance of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) documented by herbarium specimens.  Biological Conservation 134: 22-30.


*Grubbs, H. J. and M. A. Case.  2004. Allozyme variation in American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.): Variation, breeding system, and implications for current conservation practice. Conservation Genetics 5(1): 13-23.


*Wallace, L. E. and M. A. Case. 2000. Contrasting allozyme diversity between northern and southern populations of Cypripedium parviflorum (Orchidaceae): Implications for Pleistocene refugia and taxonomic boundaries. Systematic Botany 25(2): 281-296.


Case, M. A., H. T. *Mlodozeniec, L. E. *Wallace and T. W. *Weldy. 1998. Conservation genetics and taxonomic status of the rare Kentucky lady's slipper: Cypripedium kentuckiense (Orchidaceae). American Journal of Botany 85(12): 1779-1786.


*Weldy, T.W., H.T. *Mlodozeniec, L.E. *Wallace and M.A. Case. 1996. The current status of Cypripedium kentuckiense (Orchidaceae) including a morphological analysis of a newly discovered population in eastern Virginia. Sida 17(2): 423-435


Case, M. A. 1994. Extensive variation in the levels of genetic diversity and degree of relatedness among five species of Cypripedium (Orchidaceae). American Journal of Botany 81(2): 175-184.


Case, M. A. 1993. High levels of allozyme variation within Cypripedium calceolus and low levels of divergence among its varieties. Systematic Botany 18(4): 663-677.

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Last updated April 2012
College of William and Mary, Department of Biology