pbs- naming of plants

Hannon othonna@gmail.com
Fri, 08 Jan 2016 15:12:03 PST
Travis, you mentioned collaboration in plant naming. That collaboration
exists but as far as funding and academic interest the emphasis is
predominantly on molecular work rather than the more classical disciplines.
In the modern scientific literature no proposed classification system is
likely to be supported (published) without a DNA-based phylogeny. In other
words, "classical taxonomy" is mostly a thing of the past, at least as far
as folks getting paid to do it.

The good news is that DNA work mainly supports the existing classifications
we are familiar with. Disruptions for us (that are advances to others!)
mostly involve ranking and not counter-intuitive readjustments. We may
still refer to Galaxia as a discrete group, even if it is recognized these
days, more formally, as being included within Romulea. "Galaxia" still has
predictive value as a label regardless of rank and this is precisely the
intention of taxonomy as a practical way of labeling entities in the
natural world. By the same token we may refer to the various new genera
split out of Scilla as "scillas" to make it more easily known which bulbs
are under discussion, even if the group label is crude by taxonomic

Taxonomy serves a dual purpose: to provide a system of naming things and to
make a reasonable effort to ensure that this system reflects the natural
order, or phylogeny, of plants and animals. These practical and theoretical
aspects of taxonomy often are not in perfect agreement and this is to be
expected. The consideration of obtaining research funding, as Nhu
mentioned, means that the theoretical importance of the work is emphasized
over the practical in most cases.

In modern systematics the actual use of a particular taxonomy is considered
relatively unimportant compared to its significance in providing
evolutionary insight. But the taxonomists of yesteryear would have
undoubtedly been very happy to have the tools of molecular science at their
disposal in order to have a better understanding of how plants are related
to one another.

Dylan Hannon
*"The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add an
useful plant to its cultureā€¦" --**Thomas Jefferson*
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