Field Work, Herbaria, Databases, Floras, and Monographs for Plant Systematics Spring 2014 Systematics • Science of organismal diversity • Discovery, description and interpretation of biological diversity • Discovery and description of the evolutionary tree of life (phylogeny) • Synthesis of information in the form of predictive classification systems • Production of identification tools (e.g., keys, floras and faunas, monographs, databases, etc.) What systematists do (when they are not doing phylogenetics) • Field work • Specimens/herbaria • Databases, keys • Floras, monographs, websites Field Work Important steps in doing field work • Figure out where the plants grow (herbarium specimens, databases) • Make contacts in those countries • Solicit appropriate collecting and export permits • Find the funds to do the field work! • Get the proper equipment (either take it with you or get it when you arrive) Important steps cont’d. • Arrange for transportation (and lodging if visiting a field station) • Collect the specimens (take any necessary measurements in the field; take photos) • Process the specimens (drying, sorting into duplicates) • Make and distribute the labels (including georeferencing) • Arrange for shipping of your duplicates to your institution Collecting Challenges Costa Rica Collecting bamboo leaf samples for DNA (DNA usually requires a special permit) Bamboo flowers! Pressing specimens Specimens are stored in the herbarium A herbarium is a plant library, containing pressed and dried plant and fungal specimens. Fig. 18.2 Fig. 18.3 Cofre del Perote, Veracruz, Mexico These plants are now part of the living bamboo collection at the Clavigero Botanical Garden, Instituto de Ecología, Xalapa, Mexico. Buds and leaves and other parts as appropriate may be preserved in alcohol for anatomical study Leaves in silica gel for DNA extraction Ada Hayden Herbarium Iowa State University http://www.public.iastate.edu/~herbarium/index.html USDA PLANTS Database http://plants.usda.gov/ Collections of Chusquea serpens from Costa Rica Chusquea latifolia (Colombia) Chusquea serpens (Costa Rica) Chusquea latifolia drawings Fig. A2.1 Leaf anatomy and micromorphology It’s all about the characters! Description and mapping of a new species Chusquea species description per decade Hillcane (Arundinaria appalachiana) A new bamboo native to the U.S.A. described in 2006 We still don’t know our own flora completely! Flora of North America http://floranorthamerica.org/ A flora is a taxonomic treatment of plant diversity in a given region or political unit or habitat. Grasses of Iowa http://www.eeob.iastate.edu/research/iowagrasses/ A monograph is a taxonomic treatment of a particular taxon, usually a family or genus or subdivision of one of these.