Barkworth, Mary .
Wandering in a field of daisies: extending the reach of the Flora of North America.
In 2007, the Flora of North America Association published three volumes treating the Asteraceae of North America. The treatments in these volumes summarized, in many instances for the first time, the insights that synantherologists have gained from decades of phylogenetic studies. One consequence is that many familiar genera have disappeared, new genera have appeared, and old genera have changed. This presents a dilemma for those of us for whom the Asteraceae are not a primary interest. How can we learn, evaluate, and help disseminate information about the new concepts in the areas where we work? One way to address this series of problems is to use the information in the three volumes to create multi-access keys, a process that, even in its preliminary phases, requires reading through the generic, and sometimes the species, descriptions. Having students test such keys can provide additional insights. For instance, Joe Lamb, a graduate student in history, who used the preliminary key to the genera of Asteraeae concluded that the many species that had been placed in Aster could reliably be placed in their new genus without dissecting the heads. The most useful characters were those associated with the leaf edges. A second approach draws on herbarium specimens. If images of these are placed on the web, with their new names, then visitors to the site can view multiple examples of the species in each genus from the comfort of their home or office. Such sites can also incorporate images of living plants (for which, of course, there should be a voucher specimen). There are undoubtedly other approaches that can be used to accelerate the dissemination of taxonomic research findings to non-taxonomists, including the public. If we regard taxonomic research as having value, we must make use of them.
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1 - Utah State University, Intermountain Herbarium, Dept. of Biology, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah, 84322, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for BSA Sections
Location: Wasatch B/Cliff Lodge - Level C
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Time: 4:15 PM