Name Changes in Massonia

Thu, 17 Jan 2013 21:59:38 PST
Molecular studies will never be a "cure all" for what ails us,
taxonomically speaking. DNA-level understanding (or anatomical,
phytochemical, phytogeographical, etc.) is useless absent the wider context
of *actually* *knowing the plants*. This is a universal need to which
science is immeasurably instructive, but ultimately knowing plants and
their names is not the province of any one discipline. This discussion
reminds me of the joke about the student busy sequencing various samples
who would not recognize one of his subjects in the field if he tripped over
it. This is not as far-fetched as it sounds in some cases.

As Tim indicates, molecular studies are dependent on sampling range and
quality and there are natural limitations to sampling known taxa. For
example, a plant only known from the type, assuming DNA can be extracted,
tells us nothing of infraspecific variation or even if the specimen is
representative of that taxon. These studies are certainly of great
importance and have gone a long way to providing insight into the
relationships of many groups, but as far as circumscribing species, I think
population level investigations will become increasingly useful and

Before we can answer "What is a species?" we need to know "What is a


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