News from IAB

The mission of the International Association of Bryologists (IAB), as a society, is to strengthen bryology by encouraging interactions among all persons interested in byophytes.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Re: BRYONET: local endemics


Hi Nancy,

I love Bartholomew's Cobble! I did a little bryo florula of that
place when I was in grad school -- did you happen to see it in their
library? That was before word processing, but I have a hard copy

I agree with you and Ken about the need for communicating with the
public, students, governements, agencies, etc. I don't undervalue
that at all, in fact I have written about that in these various papers
on species, given talks at native plant meetings, and gatherings of
agency folks, etc. Science has to maintain its objectivity and
integrity -- the best public policy for science is always to be honest
about what you know (and don't know). The public's interests are best
served in the long run (and our credibility is highest) if we tell the
truth as we currently understand it. So as far as systematics goes,
we have made great advances in understanding biodiversity: clades and
their relationships. Our users need this more detailed knowledge for
practical reasons -- conservation foremost. Admittedly the majority
of the American public are creationists and thus have trouble with the
whole concept of clades, but we owe it to them, as educators, to keep
trying to explain the world as scientists understand it.

For a practical example, in the new revision of The Jepson Manual (the
standard flora for California tracheophytes) we have adopted two new
policies: 1. include only monophyletic taxa (insofar as known), and 2.
recognize fine-scale clades even if they are difficult to recognize
morphologically and are are usually lumped. Both are controversial
and have drawn complaints from traditionalists, when their favorite
family has been rearranged, or a species recognized that only DNA data
can reliably diagnose, but eventually people realize that these
policies are helpful even for practical purposes. Especially
conservationists -- if you are going to spend scarce time and money on
conserving a taxon, you need the most up-to-date information on what
the taxon is, whether there is phylogenetic structure within it, etc.
True utility for both practical uses and academics comes from the
best, most accurate classifications we can manage. We just need one



Brent D. Mishler
Professor, Department of Integrative Biology
Director, University and Jepson Herbaria
Mailing address:
BERKELEY, CA 94720-2465 USA
Phone: (510) 642-6810
FAX: (510) 643-5390
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First VP: Masanobu Higuchi, Second VP: Jiri Vana
To join IAB ($11 per year), contact Jim Shevock <>
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