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Systematics Section / ASPT

Cellinese, Nico [1], Donoghue, Michael J. [2].

The demise of the ranked system in the arrangement of herbaria : utopia or reality?.

Herbaria have been arranged according to a variety of both phylogenetic and non-phylogenetic rank-based classification systems. Curators and Collection Managers have never reached a consensus on the best arrangement system to implement, leaving each institution to adopt its own approach. One view is that the arrangement of a collection does not have to reflect evolutionary relationships. This is taken to the extreme when collections are alphabetically arranged by family. The view has been expressed that any arrangement reflecting a modern phylogenetic system will be unstable. It is worth remembering how confusing the various current systems are, especially to younger systematists who need to recall outdated classifications and family circumscriptions in order to locate what they need. Because institutions generally provide search tools only at family level, this task can become daunting when searching for lower level taxa. When the herbarium is used as a teaching tool, outdated systems positively defeat the usual purpose of comparing closely related taxa. The Phylocode offers the opportunity to apply a nomenclaturally more stable system to the arrangement of natural history collections. The Yale University Herbarium provides an example of how a rank-free classification is highly applicable to the arrangement of herbaria. Specimens are arranged into clades and various named clades are tagged inside and outside of the cabinets; cabinet rows represent major nodes in the phylogenetic tree. Because names do not change, only specimens are relocated when necessary, most often to neighboring shelves or cabinets. In contrast, improved knowledge of phylogenetic relationships may require both the movement of specimens and various nomenclatural adjustments in rank-based arrangements. Our reorganization of the YU Herbarium demonstrates that natural history collections can be arranged and easily maintained using rank-free phylogenetic nomenclature, and that this has benefits over rank-based systems.

1 - Yale University, Peabody Museum of Natural History, Botany Division, 170 Whitney Ave, P.O. Box 208118, New Haven, Connecticut, 06520-8118, USA
2 - Yale University, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, P.O. Box 208105, New Haven, Connecticut, 06520-8105, USA

Herbarium arrangement
rank-free phylogenetic nomenclature

Presentation Type: Paper
Session: 24-8
Location: Cottonwood A (Snowbird Center)
Date: Monday, August 2nd, 2004
Time: 5:30 PM
Abstract ID:167

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