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The Cutting Edge
Volume VI, Number 1, January 1999
News and Notes | Recent Treatments |
Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature
INBio FOLKS HIT THE ROAD. INBio pteridologist Alexander Rojas studied
MO's fern collection (mainly Elaphoglossum, from Costa Rica and throughout
the Neotropics) during a two-week stay in St. Louis, from 18 October--1
November. Immediately prior to this, he had put in a similar stint at NY.
Just after Alex's departure from MO, Andrea Albertin stopped by
briefly, to check out graduate programs at local universities. Andrea,
a life-long Costa Rican resident with a BA from William and Mary College,
has been working at INBio on a voluntary basis, mainly translating Manual
treatments from English to Spanish.
MANUAL COLLEAGUES AT MO. Alleged to have been in attendance at MO's annual
October symposium were the following Manual contributors and associates:
Dan Austin (FAU, Convolvulaceae), Harvey Ballard (BHO, Violaceae),
Fred Barrie (F/MO, Valerianaceae), Bill Hahn (US, Aquifoliaceae),
and Robbin Moran (NY, pteridophytes).
TAXONOMIC CONCEPTS IN FLUX. The synergistic effects of the cladistics/molecular
analysis marriage have begun visiting themselves upon plant classification
in a big way, as discussed under "Germane Literature" (see the
first entry). But even though a new and better system may loom on the horizon,
it promises to be slow in coming. We are in a painful period of transition,
affecting not only generic concepts, but familial ones as well. What does
all of this portend for the Manual? As we've noted before, these are trying
times in which to be producing a flora. During the course of the Manual
project, Cordyline (cultivated in Costa Rica), so recently included
in Agavaceae (e.g., by Cronquist, 1981), has passed successively from Asteliaceae
to Lomandraceae to its present home (we think) in Laxmanniaceae (whatever
that is). During the last three years alone, Scrophulariaceae subfam. Rhinanthoideae
(including Buchnera, Castilleja, Digitalis, Sibthorpia,
Veronica, etc.) was split off as a separate family, Rhinanthaceae,
then submerged in Orobanchaceae. And these are just two examples.
Veronica in the Orobanchaceae? We feel as though we were trying
to hit a moving target. But even novel dispositions that appear stable
and well supported may present a challenge. Some smaller innovations are
easily accommodated, and a few have already been worked into Manual treatments
(Potalia into Gentianaceae; Najas into Hydrocharitaceae).
The larger ones, however, are much more problematic, because of the inherent
difficulties discussed in the "Germane Literature" entry, as well
as others peculiar to our project. For example, we already have in hand
completed treatments of Apiaceae (including Hydrocotylaceae) and Araliaceae
(excluding Hydrocotylaceae), Bombacaceae and Malvaceae s. str., Lamiaceae
(excluding many genera traditionally referred to Verbenaceae) and Verbenaceae
(including those genera, plus Avicenniaceae), and Scrophulariaceae (including
Rhinanthaceae). Most of these treatments were submitted well before the
indicated changes in familial circumscriptions were publicized. Contributors
would have to rewrite their family descriptions and generic keys, and the
editors would be challenged to overhaul their keys to families. Some composite
plates might have to be modified. Even the content of Manual volumes, calculated
on the basis of species totals in an alphabetical family sequence, would
have to be reformulated. The hackneyed bottom line is that only well supported
and relatively minor classificatory innovations are likely to find their
way into the Manual (with the blessing and cooperation of the concerned
contributors); otherwise, we expect to preserve a largely Second Millennium
perspective on plant classification.
ARACEAE CONFERENCE AT MO. The VIII International Aroid Conference (VIII
IAC) will be held at the Missouri Botanical Garden from August 9--11, 1999.
The VIII International Aroid Conference will provide a forum for the presentation
and discussion of current topics in the family Araceae, including their
biology ecology, taxonomy and horticulture. Attendees are invited to present
a poster on any of the above topics (abstracts not required). The registration
fee of $100 includes admittance to all scientific sessions, evening lectures,
poster sessions and receptions. Box lunches, morning coffee, and afternoon
breaks are also included in the registration fee. There will be an additional
$25 per person fee for the Closing Banquet. Prospective attendees who wish
to receive a personal invitation should write to Secretary General (see
below). If you would like more information about attending the VIII International
Aroid Conference, please contact Beth L. Cosgriff, Secretary General, Missouri
Botanical Garden, P. O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA, FAX: (01)
314-577-9596, E-mail: email@example.com.
ERRATUM. William Burger (F) supplies the following correction of
the title of the Wilson & McCranie (1998) paper featured in our last
issue under "Germane Literature": it should read, "The biogeography
of the herpetofauna of the subhumid forests of Middle America (Isthmus
of Tehuantepec to northwestern Costa Rica)" (boldfaced words were omitted).
Still, this figures to be germane.