Peter­son has four ar­eas of ex­per­tise: for­est ecol­ogy, range ecol­ogy, for­est pathol­ogy, and my­col­ogy. He also has the unique des­ig­na­tion of be­ing the “world ex­pert” on South­ern Hemi­sphere conifer rusts.

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When he goes out to com­pile in­ven­to­ries or just to look for plants, Peter­son still finds novel, and some­times en­tirely new, species. “Do you know where Lin­drith is?” he asked. “It’s up north of Cuba. I re­cently found a new six-foot-high weed there. It’s na­tive in Colorado. It isn’t invasive from afar; it just hadn’t been no­ticed in New Mex­ico.” He paused again. “Of course, I don’t yet have a good enough spec­i­men to want to pub­lish.” There is fur­ther work to be done.

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