|BOTANY 241 TROPICAL PLANT SYSTEMATICS FALL 2014
Instructor David S. Barrington firstname.lastname@example.org. Work: 656-0431, Cell: 338-0313
241 Website: http://www.uvm.edu/~dbarring/241/
Regular Class Meetings (Tuesday and Thursday at 1 PM, Torrey 303)
Texts (suggested – order on line):
Zomlefer, W.B. 1994. Guide to Flowering-Plant Families. Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press.
Judd, W.S., C.S. Campbell, E.A. Kellogg, P.F. Stevens, and M.J. Donoghue. 2007. Plant systematics: a phylogenetic approach. 3rd edition. Sunderland, Massachisetts: Sinauer Press.
Mabberley, D.J. 1997. The Plant-Book. Cambridge, England. 2nd. ed. Cambridge Univ.
Course Abstract: This is the most exciting time in the history of plant systematics and evolution. Modern analytic tools (inferring phylogeny using cladistic methods) combined with DNA sequence characters have revolutionized the science. At the same time, the lure of the deep forests of the tropics remains irresistible, at least to some of us. My goals are three:
to acquaint you with the diversity and biology of key tropical flowering-plant families
give you substantial insight into the morphological diversity and evolution of flowering plants
provide an introduction into the rich terrain of flowering-plant biogeography, pollination and dispersal ecology, and chemical and mechanical defenses
touch on the ethnobotany of the plants as time permits
Approach: Al Gentry, one of the truly great tropical field botanists, provided insights into which flowering-plant families are the most common in the New World tropics. The 27 families that emerge from this analysis provide the backbone for the course. As we consider these families, all of the most interesting modern problems, methodologies, and ideas will come up for our consideration.
My central teaching objectives:
To teach the spot characters for the Gentry families.
To illustrate plant biology using the Gentry families.
To provide a working knowledge of current angiosperm phylogeny and its history.
To demonstrate current research through readings in the recent literature.
Things you need to know that I will end up reviewing or teaching in detail:
How phylogenetic inference works.
Basic structure of flowering plants with knowledge of terminology.
Basic molecular biology.
How plants grow.
Evaluation: Evaluation of your work in this course is self-designed to a certain extent. There will be a midterm and a final. A separate research project is welcome; I will give more thoughts on this. By the time of the midterm you need to decide on how you want to be graded - that is what each of your course components will be worth.
KINDS OF INFORMATION AND QUESTIONS FOR BOTANY 241
(A definition of the intellectual landscape)
Systematists and other people interested in plant diversity are interested in a wide variety of information about plants, but the information all relates to a fairly defined set of questions. These form the substance of Botany 241. The most prominent questions we will address in the course relate to phylogeny, ecology, and biogeography – but the other questions always seem to crop up as well.
KIND OF INFORMATION
QUESTIONS RELATED TO THIS KIND OF INFORMATION
THINGS PEOPLE DO TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS
place in forest
What is this family’s ecological role in the forest (as canopy or understory tree, herb, epiphyte, liana, or parasite)?
Look at family members in their forest setting.
What is the medicinal importance of these plants, and what do these plants use these compounds for, usually in defense?
Identify chemical constituents, look for patterns of utility and relationship to herbivores.
pollination and dispersal
How is pollen moved, how dedicated are the pollinators, how does the typical morphology of the family lend itself to pollination?
Watch the behavior of visitors to flowers, watch the behavior of fruit dispersers.
phylogeny and origins
What is this family related to and how can you tell in the forest? What is the most primitive flowering plant?
Score characteristics of the plant groups and compare them.
What are the typical features of members of this family?
Study the anatomy and morphology of family members, look for constant and varying features.
non-medical economics (food and fiber etc.)
What do people use these plants for besides medicinally?
Identify non-medicinal uses of the plants through observation and literature review.
How do you tell members of this family when you are in the forest?
Figure out what characters are constant for the family that can be seen in the forest with a 10x lens or no help.
What historical and ecological factors determine the current distribution of members of this family?
Chart the distributions of family members, especially genera, and infer history and ecological constraints.
THE MOST PROMINENT FLOWERING-PLANT FAMILIES IN THE AMERICAN TROPICS
In 1988, the legendary Al Gentry listed the most common families of plants in three forests in tropical America (Annals Missouri Botanical Garden 75:1-34.). Here are his lists (order is from most to least important in each forest type:
low (hot), moist and wet low (hot), dry mid-elevation (cool), wet
(0-1000m, 0.5+m rain) (0-1000m, < 0.5m rain) (1000-2000m, >1m rain)
legumes legumes Lauraceae
Annonaceae Bignoniaceae Rubiaceae
Moraceae Rubiaceae Melastomataceae
Bignoniaceae Sapindaceae Euphorbiaceae
Lauraceae Capparaceae Moraceae
Rubiaceae Flacourtiaceae Guttiferae
Sapotaceae Euphorbiaceae legumes
Palmae Nyctaginaceae ferns
Euphorbiaceae Boraginaceae Araceae
Myristicaceae Cactaceae Palmae
Considering these lists and the plants I find most prominently in the American tropics and including a couple of groups out of enthusiasm yields an arbitrary list of the 27 most important families in the American tropics. The families, in the APG classification order, consistute the order of discussion for this course.
ALPHABETICAL ORDER APG CLASSIFICATION ORDER
Meliaceae and Sapindacea
Moraceae and Urticaceae
7. Arecaceae (Palmae)
ROSIDS I (Fabidae)
9. Clusiaceae (Guttiferae)
13. Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
14. Moraceae and Urticaceae
ROSIDS II (Malvidae)
16. Meliaceae and Sapindaceae
18. Loranthaceae etc.
THE CURRENT APG TREE OF ANGIOSPERM ORDERS, FROM THE APG WEBSITE
Botany 241, Tropical Plant Systematics
This is a list of characters that are likely to be useful in identifying plant families in the tropics
, in situations where you have fresh material and a hand lens. I have purposely chosen the characters that also relate to the discussions of the phylogeny of angiosperm families as a whole, so that as you look for characters you can start to think about relationships. There are many more characters, many of which we will mention; these are just the common ones.
27 CRITICAL CHARACTERS FOR LEARNING
FAMILIES OF FLOWERING PLANTS
secondary and tertiary vein patterns
latex presence and color
odor of crushed leaves
stamen number relative to petal number
27. fruit type