Systematics Resources

Field Work, Herbaria, Databases, Floras,
and Monographs for Plant Systematics
Spring 2014
• 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,
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
• Make and distribute the labels (including
• 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!
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
Collections of Chusquea serpens from Costa Rica
Chusquea latifolia
Chusquea serpens
(Costa Rica)
Chusquea latifolia drawings
Fig. A2.1
Leaf anatomy
It’s all about
the characters!
Description and mapping of a new species
Chusquea species description per decade
(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
A flora is a taxonomic treatment of plant diversity
in a given region or political unit or habitat.
Grasses of Iowa
A monograph is a
taxonomic treatment
of a particular taxon,
usually a family or genus
or subdivision of one of