GCG 2017 - Classification meeting April

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Classification meeting, 13 April 2017


I may have missed a few people, and I apologize if I did!


  • Hipp
  • Kim
  • Nam -- Mitratae
  • Waterway
  • Gebauer
  • Reznicek


  • Hipp
  • Donadio
  • Ford, Bruce
  • Waterway
  • Bruhl
  • Wilson
  • Kim


  1. Review of what work has been done so far: sections done, questions on what has yet to be done
  2. Discussion of formatting and substance
  3. Discussion of classification, section circumscription and species composition
  4. IBC plans
  5. Monocots 2018



Discussion of a few sections

Rosea clade 
Is it worth going into the morphology more? For a Carex audience, this makes sense. For a general audience, we may need more information, as Phaestoglochin won't have a diagnosis of its own. It's written for someone who has a background on Phaestoglochin. We probably need more of a general description... if you don't know anything about the plant, you don't get much of a picture in mind. In a sense, maybe it makes more sense to have the diagnosis. What do we want the description to accomplish? It should give you some sort of picture in your head of what it looks like. Do we want to have figures? composite figures that represent groups, morphology on the tree. It would be nice to be able to illustrate at least some of the major breaks on the key. Isabel -- Santi and Pedro have already grouped photos by clade. Perhaps a photo montage of clades -- one for Vignea, a few for core Carex, a couple for Caricoid.
section Racemosae 
Tried to give more information here because it is a well-known section. Endeavored to make it quiet complete, including the sections and species. Looking at the Morphology section, there is a lot of beautiful detail... is this what we are striving for in everything? Marcia -- maybe we have a distinction between good sections and the new clades. It is nice having all the information in one place; for FNA treatments, they are all available online. If this is what we like, then probably all sections should go to this degree of detail, as well as clades that are morphologically clear and easily characterized.
section Glareosae 
This is intermediate in morphological characterization between Racemosae and a very abbreviated diagnosis. Aside from stature, this is probably an appropriate level of detail for the section.

General issues

Tony -- most anyone who wants to break down Carex into digestible pieces for floras, for teaching, for research will be interested in this. It's just generally untenable to have long lists of Carex with no order in a treatment of any kind. People who work on wetlands, for example, will want this in a digestible form.
We should at least give enough information to give a picture in the mind. For sections and easily characterized groups, these can and should be fairly detailed descriptions. The Racemosae treatment is a very detailed example, and the Glareosae section also provides substantial information. When there is a defining characteristic of habitat, of habit, of general appearance, these should be noted.
Lists of species 
These will go to the appendix
By IBC, we should be able to have a good draft in place, so that it can be worked over in person and gotten more consistent.
Where possible, begin with a one- or two-sentence description of what makes this a clade, the critical synapomorphy.
Spreadsheet vs descriptions
Marcia notes that it doesn't seem like a lot of changes have been made... many names for example in the Mitratae are not represented in the spreadsheet at all, awaiting WCM incorporation. Where we differ from WCM, we have to be ready to explain these. We should present these to Rafael Govaerts and update the WCM: it would be nice if WCM and our list matched up. For procedure, we plan to:
  1. Get treatments done and individually work through the spreadsheet we've got, making needed additions, removals, and rearrangements
  2. Match back to WCM
  3. Individuals review the checklist and differences with WCM, make arguments for changes
  4. present list to Rafael Govaerts


Specific descriptions

This description is succinct but very informative. The Deweyanae morphological description could still use something that gives an idea of the clade's gestalt, but this is a nice compromise in terms of details. Another thing to consider is gynecandry: gynecandry is not a synapomorphy for the gynecandrous sections, so it needs to be brought up for clades that have it.
Decorae / Indicae clade 
This is an example of a really difficult clade. The notes section is much longer than the morphology section, and appropriate given that this is a clade that needs work.

General comments

Karen: We want to have detail, but it's also important that we provide diagnostic descriptions, something that allows you to distinguish the clade from other similar clades. You want to make it easy for the user. Jeremy: To make this easy, you can bold-face the diagnostic or distinguishing features. I quite like Marcia's idea, however. Marcia: we can't be doing a lot of measuring for every group, or we'll never get this done.

Is this a reference paper or a framework paper? 
One argument is that when we publish this, it will be used as a reference paper whether we like it or not. To accommodate this, we'll have to allow these descriptions to vary a bit in scope. We'll only provide very detailed descriptions for clades that are well characterized. The descriptions that have been put into the google drive so far are the easier ones... the ones that we don't know as well are still waiting to get done. The maps and images will also be very useful for general users. Images will be crucial. Bruce -- we might also explain this in a methods section to avoid the charge of arbitrariness, some loose criteria or a framework for how the paper should be read in a methods section.
Well defined vs poorly understood clades 
We have groups that are super well defined morphologically, and others that are just not. Would it make sense to set up a coding system that allow readers to see these? Readers would appreciate knowing this: *** = well defined; ** = less clear; * = really needs a lot of work, poorly known. We need to set up the paper so that some clades lay out a problem, while others describe a well understood group. If there are explanations of a good synapomorphy, that is really a note... the notes tell you whether the group is definable or not, and the morphology gives you a very basic diagnosis / portrait of the group. This might make the descriptions more parallel from section to clade. We also might put in a section called "diagnostic features" that allows you to get to the clade.
Phylogeny figure 
It might be really nice to put some color on the tree, put boxes around groups or at termini to indicate what groups are best or least known. We might also have a section of the big tree adjacent to the discussion of each group. It could be either a miniature tree showing where you are in tree space, or a phylogeny of just that clade, or both. This might be a working tool only, but it might not fit in the paper. We could set the document up as a separate document that people could download, if it's too lengthy to be practical. We should also be able to point to what taxa we have actually sampled vs what other taxa we think belong in the section.
Intro to the paper 
might include some generalities about identifying plants, but most of this does not belong in the descriptions, nor perhaps in the paper itself. Equally important is that the intro make clear what the paper is and is not, and that we repeat at the top of the appendix that our presentation of the species is only what it is.
we need to make clear that even though we have put in a huge list, we are not publishing a species-level paper. We need to make very clear what the limits of our claims are about species lists, limits, nomenclature... that we are depending on published lists and not presenting research on species-level taxonomy.
We need a guidelines document that tells what go into the notes and morphology sections of the description. In short:
  • Morphology
    • Habit
    • Perigynium
  • Notes
    • Delimitation of the group
    • Diagnostic characters : set off in some way, so that you can find them in the description

There is no harm in recording a whole list of characters for every group.


Who is going to organize a get-together at IBC? Marcia will coordinate a meet-up regarding this paper in particular. She will check on lining up rooms and times. Monocots 2018:

  • Hipp
  • Reznicek
  • Sebastian?
  • Larridon
  • Waterway?
  • Wilson?
  • Bruhl

Updates from others

Modesto and his group can't attend today's meeting, but they are working on

  • Schoenoxiphium
  • Aciculares
  • Junciformes
  • Phyllostachyae
  • Spirostachyae
  • Sylvaticae
  • Rhynchocystis
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