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Abstract Detail

Concepts of Systematic Biology from Linnaeus to the Present (1707-2007): Three Hundred Years of Progressive Change

Stuessy, Tod F. [1].

Concepts of systematic biology from Linnaeus to the present (1707-2007): Three hundred years of progressive change.

From Linnaeusí birth in 1707 to the present time, systematic biology has undergone many changes. Linnaeus, regarded as the Father of Plant Taxonomy, was himself responsible for stabilization and unification of systematic biology, especially botany. His self-assigned task was to order all of Nature within a comprehensive classificatory framework, and this he did successfully for plants through his artificial sexual system. Such an information structure, however, was too limited to serve needs of society for efficient and successful prediction about features of organisms. Natural systems of classification, utilizing many correlated characters, were developed before Linnaeus in the 17th century by workers such as Ray and were elaborated after Linnaeus more fully in the 18th century, especially by the French naturalists Adanson and Jussieu. These systems were further improved by many European workers, including the Candolles in Geneva, Switzerland. Darwin, although never having constructed novel comprehensive evolutionary classifications, provided an explanation for the process of evolution. This allowed evolutionary interpretations in formulation of new phylogenetic classifications, which provided stimulating hypotheses of relationships for nearly a century. Phenetics, critically rejecting the determination of primitive versus derived character states plus intuitive modes of constructing phylogenetic trees, forced a serious examination of the philosophy and methods of classification. This coincided with parallel developments in computer hardware and software, which made quantitative and explicit approaches to classification possible. Cladistics continued this focus on precision and repeatability but sought also to return evolutionary interpretations back into classification, this time explicitly formulated. These past 300 years, then, have seen remarkable changes in concepts in systematic biology from basic describing and ordering to sophisticated and quantitative interpretations of relationships. The talks in this symposium explain in more detail these progressive developments.

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1 - University of Vienna, Department of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Rennweg 14, Vienna, Wien, A-1030, Austria

systematic biology

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY16
Location: Stevens 1/Hilton
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Time: 8:00 AM
Number: SY16SUM
Abstract ID:1335

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