PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
A Publication of the Botanical Society of America, Inc.
VOLUME 16 DECEMBER, 1970 NUMBER 4
Chipping Away at Early Land Plants: Of People, Places, and Perturbations
H. P. Banks Cornell University1
original intent was to devote this lecture to teaching. But I found my thoughts
to be too direct, too simple, and too few to make a convincing report. So
I shall have to be satisfied by a few specific remarks about teaching and
then go on to a consideration of some research problems.
too many seem to have forgotten that a teacher is a man. This man, to be a
good teacher, needs love for his subject and enthusiasm in its presentation.
Real enthusiasm needs freedom from inhibitions and demands that he "give out."
Far too many otherwise excellent presentations miss the mark because the teacher
is too serious about it all. The world won't end if our courses are dropped,
but our students will be turned off by ponderous phrases and pompous presentations,
even just overly serious presentations. The good teacher understands human
nature, understands people—students are people. The good teacher does
two things simultaneously. While he is exploring and exploiting his material
with students, he is simultaneously analyzing their reactions. This latter
guiles the course of the former during every class meeting whatever its locale.
don't bother to ask if plants are relevant. Instead make their relevance obvious
by directing questions at the material and eliciting answers. Questioning
and thinking are relevant to any man's life or career. The asking and answering
of questions is what research is all about and it's what education should
be all about.
is a liberal education still needed in our Society? I say emphatically yes
as far as the teaching profession goes, and I'll even suggest that without
it the intellectual value of our subject will be lost.
to fall back on the subject closest to my heart. But I shall approach it from
the standpoint of past and present persons who have influenced me, thus paying
a well-deserved tribute to the importance of teaching, teachers, and students.
1Address of the Retiring President of the Botanical
Society of America, presented at the Society's annual banquet, August 26. 1970,
at Bloomington, Indiana.
an undergraduate at Dartmouth I was introduced to the joys of primitive land
plants and their role in the phylogeny of vascular plants by the enthusiastic
presentation of Rhynia and Horneophyton by Carl L. Wilson. As you know he
is senior author of the superb textbook Botany---Wilson and Loomis.
attraction of these early land plants is the myriad of questions they raise:
where are the fossils to be foundwhy—whence did they evolve—exactly
when—in how many forms—how rapidly did speciation occur—what
can we learn of their habitat—in what associations did they occur—are
the fossils identical wherever found in the world—what can we learn
of the paleogeography and paleoecology of Devonian time—how many whole
plants can we reconstruct—how precisely can we pinpoint the time at
which distinguishable subdivisions of vascular plants were evolved—what
can we learn of the exact time of origin of major characteristics of vascular
plants—what do Devonian plants contribute to phylogeny—what was
happening in the animal world at the same time—to say nothing of the
technical problems they pose for anyone who wants to learn their secrets.
at Dartmouth William Patten was teaching a freshman course entitled "Evolution."
Patten devoted his research to a strenuous search for a "missing link" between
invertebrate and vertebrate animals. His zealously pursued thesis was that
a group of primitive armored fishes, the ostracoderms, filled the bill. But
what caught my imagination were his exciting accounts of trips to Spitsbergen,
Gaspe, and other localities whence he returned with an abundance of material.
Among his collections from the Gaspe Peninsula were beautiful "fronds" belonging
to a supposed Devonian fern Archaeopteris. The sequel is obvious. My first
collecting of Devonian plants was done on the Gaspe Peninsula and included
at Cornell I came under the influence of the master of teaching, research,
and writing, the late Arthur J. Eames. Eames, at the time, was completing
his Morphology of Vascular Plants: The Lower Groups and was erecting the subdivision
of vascular plants Psilopsida for the Rhynia-type of Devonian fossil and the
living PsilotaIes. Equally stimulating was the enthusiasm of the late Loren
C. Petry who reveled in the joys of a problem needing solution. Petry had
collected on the Gaspe Peninsula in the early thirties. Among his finds were
calcitic nodules containing plants with preserved cell structure. I was lucky
to get more of these and obviously began peeI-ing the nodules in an attempt
to reconstruct a plant. In
midst of this first project I got waylaid by a travelling salesman, a shoe
salesman, from southeastern New York. As you may be aware, good salesmen are
often extremely alert men always on the watch for something new. This particular
one was attending a nut tree growers' meeting and stopped by to tell us about
some fossil nuts being turned up by a retired engineer during road-building
operations through Devonian strata. The "nuts" proved to be small masses of
pyritized wood. But the engineer, Mr. William Deats, led me to a dense deposit
of a lycopod that became Colpodexylorz deatsii in my reconstituted thesis.
to go back a little in time. Why was Petry interested in Devonian plants?
The answer is a stimulating note by George R. Wieland of fossil "cycad" fame.
Wieland wrote in Science in 1922, one year after publication of the last in
a series of superb papers by Kidston and Lang. Their description of the intimate
anatomical details of the plants of the Rhynie chert beds in Scotland had
fired the imagination of many botanists who cared about the phylogeny of vascular
plants. Wieland remarked on the vast expanse of Devonian rocks stretched across
the North American continent. He noted the large number of invertebrate and
vertebrate fossils they contained and the use of these fossils in establishing
the chronological sequence of Devonian strata. But he wondered about the paucity
of reports of plants from these beds. He stressed the dependence of good phylogeny
on the closest attention to the chronological appearance of the plants in
the fossil record. He asked leading questions such as: is there a petrified
Psilophyton2—is there a petrifaction flora in North America .comparable
to the Rhynie chert?—are there any seeds in Devonian rocks? Answers
to most of Wieland's questions, and others, will be apparent as we go along.
first response to Wieland was to investigate a marine limestone layer of early
Upper Devonian age in central New York. In this he found Callixylon, Sphenoxylon,
and other less-well-known genera.
PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN
ADOLPH HECHT, Editor
Department of Botany
Washington State University
Pullman, Washington 99163
Harlan P. Banks, Cornell University
Sydney S. Greenfield, Rutgers University
Robert W. Long, University of South Florida
William L. Stern, University of Maryland
Erich Steiner, University of Michigan
December 1970 Volume 16
Changes of Address: Notify the Treasurer of the Botanical Society
of America, Inc., Dr. Theodore Delevoryas, Department of Biology, Yale University,
New Haven, Connecticut.
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Subsequently, Chester Arnold produced an extensive monograph on Callixylon
as his doctoral dissertation under Petry, and Dale Thomas, another student,
described the Sphenoxylon in detail.
the Devonian of North America did contain a petrifaction flora. Even more
significant was the gymnospermous anatomy of the fossils, quite in contrast
to the simple anatomy of the Rhynie plants, although only a relatively few
million years younger than Rhynia.
to go back even more in time. Fossil plants were illustrated in the monumental
publications of the Geological Survey of New York State. Lardner Vanuxem in
1842 figured what we now call Arch+aeosigillaria vanuxemi.
one hundred years later Arnold described a lycopod whose stem was covered
by spine-like outgrowths, naming it Gilboaphyton. Then Grierson and Banks
located specimens displaying the characteristics of both genera. By making
transfer preparations we demonstrated that the outer surface of the stem was
smooth but bore numerous laminar leaves, not spines. Additionally we found
a lobed protostele in the center of the stem. Subsequently we found a specimen
showing leaves in adaxial view. They were quite similar to those of some specimens
of Selaginella. This and other work on Devonian lycopods has led us to the
conclusion that the fossils bore an amazing resemblance to modern species
and that club mosses have been a distinctive group of organisms ever since
their origin in Lower Devonian (Siegenian) strata.
year after Vanuxem, James Hall in 1843 figured a specimen of what we now call
Archaeopteris balliana. Our first big haul of Archaeopteris came from a lens
in a quarry near Durham, in eastern New York, to which an amateur naturalist,
Mr. Vernon Haskins, had led me. From this collection Hueber obtained both
anatomy and morphology of fertile fronds. Then the construction of yet another
reservoir dam, near Cannonsville, east central New York, supplied a vast collection
of vegetative and fertile Archaeopteris with anatomy provided by petrifactions.
Mr. Raymond Baschnagel of Delhi, New York was a major force in amassing this
collection which Carluccio studied. Soon we discovered from anatomy that the
"frond" had both branch traces and leaf traces. As a result Carluccio, Hueber,
and Banks concluded that the so-called frond was really a branch system bearing
leaves. Beck has just read a paper at these meetings extending these results.
The fertile "pinnules" proved to be much dissected leaves, bearing sporangia
adaxially. Meantime others had been busy. Arnold had demonstrated that Archaeopteris
was heterosporous and Beck had found an Archaeopteris "frond" attached to
a large axis which he identified as a petrified Callixylon. This produced
a plant with gymnospermous anatomy and somewhat fern-like foliage for which
he coined the name progymnosperm. He effectively laid to rest the concept
of Archaeopteris as a Devonian fern. This work also opened up a whole new
area of speculation about the phylogeny of vascular plants.
profusion with which we find well-preserved mass-es of Archaeopteris in lenses
indicates to me that it grew
the low-lying, terrestrial portion of the Devonian delta that was forming
in eastern New York, and that parts of the plants fell into small ponds where
they were compressed into the lenses which are now exposed occasion-ally by
major earth-moving projects.
later than Vanuxem and Hall, and in Lower rather than Upper Devonian strata,
Sir James W. Dawson, then Principal of McGill University, embarked in summer
1858 on a momentous trip to the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula. Dawson had learned
about Gaspe plants from Sir William E. Logan, founder and first Director of
Geological Survey of Canada. Logan had observed fossil plants during mapping
expeditions in 1843 and had told Dawson about them. Dawson's first trip, 15
years later, was successful, and within a year a paper appeared in the Quarterly
Journal of the Geological Society of London describing a new plant, Psilophyton
princeps. Either ships were faster in those days or editors were!
an aside, perhaps I should point out that Dawson was a good example of the
versatility of paleobotanists. As Principal of McGill he was a successful
money-raiser and innovator. In the latter direction he not only built science
at McGill into a position of leadership, he taught botany, zoology, geology,
and chemistry, founded an engineering college, and a college for women.
in 1859, the same year Darwin's Origin of Species appeared, Dawson published
Psilophyton princeps, a slender, dichotomizing, spiny plant with supposed
lateral fructifications and rhizome. He considered it a possible relative
of living Psilotuns. In 1871 Dawson established a variety, P. princeps var.
ornatum, for another Gaspe plant supposed to bear paired terminal sporangia,
stout spines, and scalariform tracheids.
vicissitudes of these two taxa constitute a long and intriguing story, too
long for presentation here. Suffice it to say that the various organs of Psilophyton
were not found in organic attachment, and as Hueber and I reported in 1967
there were two different genera involved. First is the true P. princeps for
which we selected a type specimen. Second was the variety ornatum which has
yet to be placed in a new genus. The first had paired terminal - sporangia
that split longitudinally during dehiscence and had centrarch primary xylem.
Hueber described this plant in greater detail in 1968. The second organism
bore lateral sporangia whose dehiscence was distal and was supplied by an
exarch xylem srtand.
the first group I proposed in 1968 the name Trimerophytina, a group I consider
advanced in many characters over the simpler Rhynia-type.
the second type I have suggested the group name Zosterophyllophytina, and
my slides illustrative of this type are a selection taken from several members
of the group including the ornatum type of Psilophyton and the Crenaticaulis
described recently by Davis and me.
now to dispell the myth that paleobotanists are interested only in anatomy,
a statement I've read in Science within the year, let's change the subject
to another group of people and set of data.
the more recent of the above events were going on, stratigraphic paleontologists
and geochronologists were actively building a more precise chronology and
correlation of Devonian strata (Table 1). I illustrate seven subdivisions
of the Devonian Period which spanned some 50 million years, and four subdivisions
of Silurian. Both time of commencement and the duration of each are given.
Were the time available we could examine as well the numerous lesser units
into which each of these has been subdivided. All of this subdividing is easier
to do in marine deposits containing an abundance of invertebrates but remarkable
strides have been made in correlating with them the contemporaneous fresh-water,
or continental; strata in which accumulations of plants are much denser. The
point is that we are beginning to get the kind of chronological data Wieland
regarded as essential to a good phylogeny. An important ingredient for this
project is close cooperation among paleobotanists, stratigraphers, paleontologists,
and palynologists. This, in fact, is beginning to take place through the medium
of international conferences on boundary problems, e.g., the boundary between
Silurian and Devonian Periods. But it demands that all learn to speak one
increased precision in geochronology has produced many changes, some of which
make the paleobotanical data far more sensible than they were before. Two
examples are the Baragwenathia flora in Australia and the Rhynie chert flora
in Scotland. The former is now regarded as late Lower Devonian rather than
Silurian, the latter as late Lower Devonian rather than Middle Devonian. Addition-ally,
widespread interest in biogeochemistry, especially of Precambrian strata,
Ied to the discovery of algae in these ancient rocks and of apparent eucaryotic
green algae in rocks deposited nearly one billion years ago. I refer, of course,
to such compounds as amino acids, fatty acids, alkanes, and pristanes isolated
from rocks and presumed to be degradation products of organisms and to the
studies of such men as Barghoorn and Schopf.
was this kind of new knowledge that led me to start arranging early vascular
groups, the Rhynia- and Zosterophyllum-types, seem to occur in Late Silurian.
groups, the Rhynia- and Zosterophyllum-types, lived in earliest Devonian (Gedinnian)
time. By Siegenian there were four major groups, the first two plus lycopods
and trimerophytes (Psilophyton), and three lesser groups, the barinophytes,
sciadophytes, and fan-leaved types.
Emsian time three more groups appeared, cladoxylaleans, sphenophyres, and
the first of the progymnosperms (Protopteridiunt-like forms).
ten groups of vascular plants evolved during late Silurian and early Devonian
time. The time span involved was under 35 million years. There is no need
to continue into Middle and Upper Devonian because the number of kinds of
vascular plants continues to in-crease in progressively younger strata, a
continuation of the trend started earlier.
you may ask what is the present status of the earliest demonstrable vascular
plant and has any effort been made to summarize the current status of the
phylogeny of vascular plants?
in 1937 wrote an outstandingly good and analytical paper on the flora of the
Downtonian deposits in
He described, among other things, a simple vascular plant of the Rhynia type.
Both vascular tissue and cutinized, trilete spores found in situ demonstrated
conclusively that Cooksonia was a vascular plant. At that time the Downtonian
was considered to be a boundary deposit of either Late Silurian or Early Devonian
age. It seemed to me to have the oldest vascular plant flora.
1962 Obrhel found a similar plant in Czechoslovakia in beds (Pridoli) that
were, and still are, held to be upper-most Silurian in age. So Obrhel's plant
appeared to be somewhat older. Ishchenko (1969) has reported Cooksonia in
the Skala beds in Podolia, and I have a note in press on a Cooksonia from
the Bertie formation (Cayugan Series) in New York. As a result of a series
of inter-national conferences on the Silurian-Devonian boundary, the appearance
of certain invertebrates (especially graptolites, conodonts, and ostracodes)
has been designated as the end of Silurian and start of Devonian deposition.
This decision makes the four deposits equivalent in age—all Upper Silurian.
I mean the Downtonian in Wales, the Pridoli in Czechoslovakia, the Skala in
Podolia, and the Cayugan Series (Bertie limestone) in New York. Thus the oldest
currently acceptable vascular plant, Cooksonia, is found at three or four
widely spaced geographic localities. The time of appearance of this fossil
is speculative, but I'll say in round numbers 400 million years ago, five
million before the start of Devonian deposition.
there is a report by Petrosian, which I've not seen, of the discovery of a
Zosterophyllum in the Skala beds of Podolia. If this proves acceptable, then
the two groups
and Zosterophyllum-type appeared almost simultaneously in the fossil record,
that is in the youngest stage of Silurian time.
hopes that palynologists working with isolated spores in the same strata might
lend support to this macrofossil evidence. I am happy to report that in general
they do. There is abundant documentation of the appearance of a few spores
in Early Silurian time and a steady increase in number of species and in their
morphological variation through Devonian time. Homospory comes first, heterospory
follows, and, in Late Devonian as Pettitt and Beck have now demonstrated,
the first seed appears. There is only one flaw in this story. That is ignorance
whether the appearance of an apparent vascular plant spore in late Early Silurian
means we must seek actively for macrofossils older than the present Cooksonia,
or it means that cutinized spores produced in quartets evolved earlier than
other characteristics of vascular plants. Right now this ignorance only emphasizes
the tentative nature of our conclusions and that our students will surely
depart from our conclusions as new data accumulate.
second question concerns attempts to put these new data, into a phylogenetic
series. So I offer you a tentative chart which makes only a few major points.
First, there were some groups that started and ended with no obvious descendants
(sciadophytes, barinophytes, fan-shaped leaves). Then there seem to have been
two productive groups, the Rhynia-type and the Zosterophyllumtype. This latter
I speculate gave rise to both lycopods and giant lepidodendrids. Lycopods
have persisted. The Rhynia-type gave rise to trimerophytes represented by
Psilophyton, and from these most vascular plants have some-how arisen. There
is no time for further detail but this is something at which subsequent workers
future: I think I've already demonstrated how easily current hypotheses can
be shown erroneous or, some-times, supported but here are a few ideal examples.
Protopteridium is shown in many textbooks as the first plant to bear a fern
frond. Bonamo, working with Tetraxylopteris, demonstrated that this is probably
a fertile branch system.
I was taught not to waste time on Devonian strata in western North America
because they were all marine. Dorf first demonstrated the fallacy of this
by finding and describing a flora at Beartooth Butte in Wyoming. Now several
good deposits are known.
Intensive collecting and improved technical ability can add greatly to the
precision of our knowledge. Examples:
and I described Triloboxylon as a new taxon perhaps related to progymnosperms
but lacking secondary wood. Scheckler has now demonstrated its affinity
some years we have worried about strange variations in the anatomy and
morphology of Tetraxylopteris. Scheckler can now resolve these problems
if he erects a new taxon which will permit him to segregate out the various
is difficult to prepare well for anatomical study. In fact one used to
throw it away as worthless. Here are a few samples of good technique—parenchyma
in primary xylem in transverse and longitudinal views, alternating bands
of sclerenchyma and parenchyma in outer cortex, a variety of protoxylem
and metaxylem cells in longitudinal section. All the illustrations are
from Scheckler's preparations.
Yes, I visualize the day when we'll know many Devonian plants as plants rather
than as isolated organs, when we'll be able to speak intelligently about habitats
and associations, when we'll know the length of time that was required to
evolve new species, and the algae from which vascular plants did evolve. I
think we'll learn whether the origin of vascular tissue was related to the
origin of metabolic pathways for the manufacture of lignin (perhaps in the
Silurian). I think we'll know much more about the possible role of 02 concentration
in the atmos-
its role in the formation of ozone, and their role in shielding Earth's surface
from lethal ultra-violet radiation, thus permitting the occupation of dry
land. And of course I'll be watching for confirmation of my wildest statement,
actually a primitive attempt at precision, that all the phylogenetically important
innovations among vascular plants are found during the 50-million-year adaptive
radiation of land plants that occurred in the Devonian Period. Ted Delevoryas
has picked me up on this one and allowed as how all the evolution after Devonian
time was just "frosting on the cake."
lieu of the illustrations that accompanied this talk, a few citations in which
they may be found are given below. In the same list are sources of some of
the remarks made in the text.
Chester A. 1930. The genus Callixylon from the Upper Devonian of central and
western New York. Pap. Michigan Acad. Sci., Arts and Letters 11: 1-50.
1937. Observations on fossil plants from the Devonian
of eastern North America III. Gilboaphyton Goldringiae gen. et sp. nov. from
the Hamilton of eastern New York. Contrib. Mus. Paleontol., Univ. Michigan
1939. Observations on fossil plants from the Devonian
of eastern North America. IV. Plant remains from the Cat-skill Delta Deposits
of northern Pennsylvania and southern New York. Contrib. Mus. Paleontol. Univ.
Michigan 5: 271-314.
H. P. 1963. The early history of land plants, p. 73-107. In, E. T. Drake,
Ed., Evolution and Environment: a symposium presented on the occasion of the
100th anniversary of the foundation of Peabody Museum of Natural History at
Yale University. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven.
In press. Occurrence of Cooksonia, the oldest vascular land plant macrofossil,
in the Upper Silurian of New York State. Indian J. Bot.
and M. R. Davis. 1969. Crenaticaulis, a new genus of Devonian plants allied
to Zosterophyllum, and its bearing on the classification of early land plants.
Amer. J. Bot. 56: 436-449.
C. B. 1960. The identity of Archaeopteris and Callixylon. Brittonia 12: 351-368.
1970. Stelar morphology in some progymnosperms.
Amer. J. Bot. 57: 755. Abstr.
P. M., and I-I. P. Banks. 1967. Tetraxylopteris schmidtii: Its fertile parts
and its relationships within the Aneurophytales. Amer. J. Bot. 54: 755-768.
L. M., F. M. Hucber, and H. P. Banks. 1966. Archaeopteris macilenta, anatomy
and morphology of its frond. Amer. J. Bot. 53: 719-730.
W. G. 1967. Spores and Land Plant Evolution. Rev. Palaeobot. and Palynol.
J. W. 1859. On fossil plants from the Devonian rocks of Canada. Quart. Jour.
Geol. Soc. London 15: 477-488.
1871. The fossil plants of the Devonian and Upper
Silurian formations of Canada. Geol. Surv. Canada 1-92.
E. 1933. A new occurrence of the oldest known terrestrial vegetation from
Beartooth Butte, Wyo. Bot. Gaz. 95: 240-257.
J. D., and H. P. Banks. 1963. Lycopods of the Devonian of New York State.
Palaeontographica Amer. 4(31): 219-295.
J. 1843. Report of the survey of the fourth geological district. Geology of
New York, Part 4: 1-525.
W. B., A. G. Smith, B. Wilcock, Editors. 1964. The Phanerozoic Time-Scale.
Quart. J. Geol. Soc. London 120S: 1-458.
F. M. 1967. Psilophyton: The genus and the concept. In, D..Oswald, Ed., Int.
Symposium on the Devonian System.
Soc. Petroleum Geologists, Calgary, Canada. Vol. 2: 815-822.
P. M., and H. P. Banks. 1967. Psilophyton princeps: the search for organic
connection. Taxon. 16: 81-85.
T. A. 1969. The Cooksonian paleoflora in the Skala horizon of Podolia and
its stratigraphical significance. Geol. J. 29: 101-109. (in Russian)
W. H. 1937. On the plant-remains from the Downtonian of England and Wales.
Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lon-don 227B: 245-291.
L. C., and H. P. Banks. 1966. Triloboxylon ashlandicum gen. et sp. nov. from
the Upper Devonian of New York. Amer. J. Bot. 53: 1020-1028.
J. 1962. Die Flora der Pfidoli-Schichten (Budnany-Stufe) des mittelbohmischen
Silurs. Geologic 11: 83-97.
N. M. 1968. In 3' Internat. Symposium of the Silurian-Devonian boundary and
the stratigraphy of the Lower and Middle Devonian. A guide to the geological
excursion on Silurian and Lower Devonian deposits of Podolia (Middle Dnestr.
River). Ministry of Geol. of U.S.S.R. All-Union Geol. Sci. Research Inst.
Leningrad. p. 23.
J. M., and C. B. Beck. 1968. Archaeosperma arnoldiia cupulate seed from the
Upper Devonian of North America Contrib. Mus. Paleont. Univ. Michigan 22:
J. B., and T. R. Lister. 1969. Upper Silurian and Lower Devonian spore assemblages
from the Welsh Border-land and South Wales. Palaeontology 12: 201-252.
Stephen E. 1970. Evolutionary trends in primitive
progymnosperms. Cornell Univ., M.Sc. Thesis. 180 pp.
J. W. 1968. Microflora of the Bitter Springs Formation, Late Precambrian,
Central Australia. J. Paleontology 42: 651-688.
J. W., and E. S. Barghoorn. 1969. Microorganisms from the Late Precambrian
of South Australia. J. Paleontology 43: 111-118.
A. Kvenvolden, and E. S. Barghoorn. 1968. Amino acids in Precambrian sediments:
An assay. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sciences 59: 639-646.
D. E. 1935. A new species of Calamopitys from the American Devonian. Bot.
Gaz. 97: 334-345.
L. 1842. Geology of New York. Part III. Comprising the survey of the Third
Geological District, pp. 1-306. Albany, New York.
G. B.. 1922. Devonian Plants. Science n.s. 55: 427-428.
in the Academic Jungle
University at Newark, New Jersey
The changing status of botany in American education and the tendency to de-emphasize
plant science in certain institutions have been of long-standing concern to
botanists. In 1952, a special committee of the Botanical Society of America
reported the results of a comprehensive survey of the status of botany in 745
colleges and universities (1). This study showed that although there were many
botany departments with well-developed botanical curricula, there were a great
many more biology departments in which botany was de-emphasized or completely
neglected. The principal causes of botany being de-emphasized, i.e., biology
departments dominated by, or exclusively staffed by zoologists with little or
no understanding or interest in botany, unbalanced and misleading biology courses,
and administrative lack of understanding of the importance of botany, were clearly
indicated by this study.
1952, a number of developments have caused a worsening of an already bad situation.
The A.I.B.S. and to a greater extent C.U.E.B.S. have seemed to attract some
ardent propagandists for "innovative" changes, "core curricula," and some
weird approaches to restructuring and teaching biology. Some of these faddists
present their biologically and educationally unsound views with a dedicated
ferocity exceeding that of the most ardent evangelists or political propagandists.
The so-called "integrated" approach to general biology and to "core curricula"
is advocated in absolute imperative terms. Any critical opposition is vigorously
denounced as backward or old-fashioned, and anyone daring to criticize these
self-styled "mod-ern" biologists is quickly labelled as obsolete.
the fully integrated approach is very unsound biology. It leads either to
a completely zoological discussion with an occasional reference to plants
as if they were animals, or to a very fragmented and illogical approach to
organisms. Instead of giving the student a clear under-standing of the structure,
growth, development, and physiology of a whole plant as opposed to that of
a whole animal, the so-called integrated approach gives a forced and false
picture of the similarities of plants and animals and tends to neglect, their
differences. A giraffe simply is not built like, does not look like, and does
not function like an oak tree, and no amount of revolutionary zeal or educational
huckstering will make them alike. Of course, when discussing cellular or molecular
biology, genetics, ecology, and evolution, wherein there are general principles
applicable to both plants and animals, it is entirely valid to discuss these
with both plant and animal examples. But to discuss the diversity of organisms,
and the basic structure, physiology, and reproduction of both plants and animals
together can only lead to confusion, and to the de-emphasis or elimination
of the biology of plants.
of the pressure to integrate biology and due to the current academic turmoil
wherein change is often mistaken for progress, the status of botany in American
colleges and universities has steadily worsened. In recent years, because
of weird and unnatural restructuring of departments, a number of botany departments
have disappeared. Serious concern about this critical situation has been expressed
in the excellent article by William Stern in the June 1969 issue of Plant
Science Bulletin ('2) , and the responses to is on pp. 4-5 in the December
1969 issue; as well as in the article by W. H. Eshbaugh and T. K. Wilson in
the December 1969 issue of BioScience (3).
botany is to survive so that students may be allowed the opportunity to study
it, and so that it will be possible to choose careers in teaching and research
in botany, and so that botany and botanists may make their much needed contributions
to our society, the destructive trends to eliminate plant studies must be
reversed. It would seem obligatory for all botanists not just to teach and
do research, but to live up to their professional responsibility to see that
botany is maintained and advanced in proper development in the schools, colleges,
and universities. Unfortunately, some botanists have contributed to the demise
of botany by apathy or by accepting the propaganda of the so-called "new biology"
along with some absurd administrative restructuring.
need to educate ourselves and our colleagues with regard to the basic importance
of botany and to the fallacies of the new bandwagon biology constantly advocated
by pressure groups.
need, in particular, to focus on the fallacies of the fully integrated approach
in biology courses or in so-called "core curricula." Let us make it clear
that it is far more important and valuable for the student to try to under-stand
the plant as a wholly integrated functional unit in contrast to the animal
as a whole functional unit. than to enumerate for him so-called "principles"
or "concepts" by which fragments of their respectively different existences
are brought together in a highly artificial framework. Students who are taught
the anatomy and physiology of plants and animals together cannot possibly
have a clear understanding of either or both. The circulatory system of a
mammal and the vascular system of an angiosperm are not alike in structure
fallacy of confusing plants and animals in biology is not new, as Agnes Arber
(4) has clearly indicated:
misuse of an analogy by pressing it to the point at which it is confused with
an identity, is one to which biological thought is peculiarly liable. It beset
the comparison between animals and plants, which was a sheet anchor of Greek
biology—a comparison which would have been helpful if it had been kept
in its place, but which was carried so far that it led to serious misunderstanding
of vegetable structure. Marcello Malpighi, in the seventeenth century, was
one of those who placed too much reliance on this resemblance. Having met
with great difficulties in the anatomical studies of the higher animals, he
turned to plants, in the hope that these simpler creatures would reveal clues
to animal anatomy. Though he failed to unravel his puzzles by this means,
his results showed how valuable even a mistaken analogy may be, for, in pursuing
it, he founded, incidentally, the science of plant anatomy. Nehemiah Grew,
Malpighi's English contemporary, summed up the limitation of the plant-animal
analogy in the words: 'If any one shall require the Similitude to hold in
every Thing; he would not have a Plant to resemble, but to be, an Animal.'
plants and animals differ in phylogeny, diversity, anatomy, and physiology,
etc., should logically dictate that they be studied separately, but this does
not preclude the possibility of developing a good introductory general biology
course. Indeed, a number of general biology courses and textbooks are based
on this premise. Biologists may differ as to relative emphasis and as to specific
content and balance, but the textbooks and courses that would seem to be taking
a scientifically and educationally valid approach are those that recognize
three major component areas of the general biology course.
addition to the biology of plants, and the biology of animals as such, which
form two major component areas, there is a third component area in which biology
can legitimately and properly be taught by an integrated approach. This third
component consists of the areas of molecular and cellular biology, genetics,
evolution, and ecology, wherein there are unifying principles applicable to
organisms in general. But because these areas have made much progress and
received much emphasis in our time, we should not delude ourselves or our
students into thinking that they represent all or even the major portion of
need to point out that integration or synthesis of knowledge into conceptual
frameworks is only suitable for
students, not for beginners. Synthesis is a step in thinking that presupposes
prior analytical thinking. A basic fallacy of the so-called integrated biology
courses and core curricula lies in the fact that they attempt to pro-duce
a synthesis of knowledge before there is any analyzed and ordered knowledge
of plant biology and of animal biology separately is deprecated with great
scorn by those who pro-claim that the integrated approach is modern and represents
the best approach for biologists of the future. The fallacy of the integrated
approach is neither modern nor constructive. Actually, it results in a highly
exaggerated and distorted picture of the true nature of the biological sciences,
and is not only destructive of botany but is often detrimental to zoology
examination of some textbooks based on the integrated approach shows the fallacy
of the method. These texts usually show an enormous prejudice in favor of
the truly general biological areas, but try as they may, the authors simply
cannot integrate plants and animals. Chap-ter headings may sound "principled,"
"conceptualized," or integrated, but the text typically consists of a patchwork
of alternating paragraphs or sections on plants and animals, and usually with
very little attention to plants. Consider the absurdity of studying digestion
in stomach and intestines along with leaves and venus flytraps, and then transport
with xylem, phloem, and blood vessels. Outlandish as it may seem, some of
these texts are widely used in the colleges. Unfortunately, logic and validity
in science teaching are often less successful than false analogies and educational
the vital importance of plants and plant science to our civilization and to
liberal arts and pre-professional programs, the de-emphasis of plant biology
and the virtual elimination of botany from many colleges and universities
should be a matter of serious concern to everyone interested in American education.
The very existence of botany as an academic discipline and of opportunities
for young people to pursue careers and make contributions to teaching and
research in botany are seriously threatened.
failure to provide adequately balanced biology courses and the de-emphasis
of botany in high schools and colleges result in a spiral decline in interest
and, there-fore, enrollment in botany. Moreover, the failure of biology departments
to allow adequate development of botanical courses further inhibits interest
and denies opportunity for botanical studies for those who might be interested.
The detrimental effects of the neglect of plant science in the schools and
colleges become increasingly obvious. Although there are still some excellent
botany departments with well-developed undergraduate and graduate programs,
there are ever-fewer places where a student can get a good undergraduate or
graduate education in botany, and there is a steady decline in the number
of institutions where young Ph.D.s in many fundamental fields of botany can
find employment and opportunities to use their training. This critical situation
can hardly be ignored by responsible professional botanists.
incongruity of the disparagement of botany in a biology program is astonishing
in view of the fundamental importance of plants and plant science to our very
existence, to our economic and cultural life, to agriculture and medicine.
Moreover, there is enormous widespread interest in plants, and plants and
plant products are involved in practically every phase of human activity.
a time when civilization is threatened by many complex social and economic
problems and by deterioration of the natural environment, and because the
solution to all of these problems depends to a large extent on plants and
plant science, it seems the height of absurdity for botany to be de-emphasized
or eliminated while other far less important and less relevant subject areas
are growing rapidly in the colleges and universities. On the basis of any
or every criterion, botany would seem to require a prominent place in the
evidence is overwhelmingly clear (1, 2, 3) that botany can only survive and
be given proper emphasis in a botany department. Although there are some exceptions,
in general, one must agree with Stern (2) that "from the botanical standpoint,
biology departments have not been a success anywhere." Botanists should aim
to see that botany is maintained and advanced in a well-developed botany department
in almost every college and university.
alleged unity of biology as a science simply does not exist, in spite of the
ardent but futile attempts to redefine the new biology in monolithic molecular
terms. The biological sciences remain broader in scope and have a greater
diversity of divergent fields than do all of the physical sciences put together.
Physics and chemistry are much more closely related to each other than are
botany and zoology. Although physics and chemistry recognize their interrelationships,
and courses exist in borderline fields as they do in the biological sciences,
the borderline fields are not regarded as the new sacred theology nor do physicists
and chemists force a fusion of their departments to the detriment of one or
and universities are in a period of great turmoil and change. If botany is
to survive, and play its proper role in American education, we must embark
on a program of education and professional action. I suggest the following:
ourselves, our colleagues in other fields, and administrators as to the
nature and importance of botany to our civilization, its special relevance
in our time, and its vital importance in all biological curricula.
teachers, authors, and publishers of text-books with regard to current
fallacies and fads in biology.
to defend and maintain botany departments where they exist, to re-establish
them where they were eliminated, and to establish new ones where they
have never existed.
teachers, administrators, and curriculum specialists as to the importance
of plant biology in the education of all of our youth.
a standing committee of the Botanical Society of America to continue to
study the role and status of botany in American education, and to provide
a mechanism for promoting the development of botany departments and botanical
curricula in the colleges and universities.
of the Committee to Study the Role of Botany in American Colleges and
Universities. The Botanical Society of America, September 8, 1952.
W. L. 1969. Quo Vadis Botanicum? P.S.B. 15:1-4.
W. H., and T. K. Wilson. 1969. Departments of Botany, Passe? BioScience
A. 1954. The Mind and the Eye. Cambridge Univ. Press, pp. 41-42.
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR
this issue my five-year term as Editor will be completed. During the period
that I served as Editor, 22 issues appeared, two of which were edited by Bill
Stern during the time I was out of the country on sabbatical leave. I wish
to express my appreciation and thanks to Bill, to the other members of the
Editorial Board, to the many officers of the Botanical Society, and to the
members who have contributed in many ways to the Bulletin. I wish to thank
Mr. Henry P. Grosshans, Mrs. Patricia L. Randall, and their associates in
the Washington State University Office of Publications for their advice and
detailed editorial assistance. Mrs. Caroline M. Cooper and her assistants
in our Duplicating and Mailing Department contributed further in the important
process of distribution of the completed issues.
was announced in this column of our last issue, the new Editor is Dr. Robert
W. Long, Professor of Botany and Chairman of the Department of Botany and
Bacteriology of the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida 33620.
Included with this issue is an official registration form for our forthcoming
annual meeting in Edmonton, Canada. Should you require additional copies, please
request them from Dr. S. N. Postlethwait, Department of Biological Science,
Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana 47907. Dr. Postlethwait is Program Director
for the Botanical Society of America.
NEWS AND NOTES
Guide to Graduate Study in Botany—new edition
current edition of the Guide was published in 1968, and the information it
contains is out-of-date. The Botanical Society of America has decided to issue
a new edition, to be available in the autumn of 1971. Any department in the
United States or Canada offering graduate work which can culminate in a Ph.D.
in some area of botany is eligible for listing. All departments included in
the 1968 edition will be asked to update their listing; any department not
included in the 1968 edition but wishing to be incorporated in the 1971 edition
may do so by so informing the Secretary of the Society, who will then ask
for the specific information needed for the listing. Secretary: Dr. Barbara
F. Palser, Department of Botany, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. 08903.
Darbaker Prize in Phycology for 1971
committee on the Darbaker Prize of the Botanical Society of America will accept
nominations for an award to be announced at the annual meeting of the Society
at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, in 1971. Under the
terms of the bequest, the award is to be made for meritorious work in the
study of microscopical algae. The committee will base its judgment primarily
on the papers published by the nominee during the last two full calendar years
previous to the closing date for nominations. At present, the award will be
limited to residents of North America. Only papers published in the English
language will be considered. The value of the prize for 1971 will depend on
the income from the trust fund, but is expected to be about $300. Nominations
for the 1971 award accompanied by a statement of the merits of the case and
by reprints of the publications supporting the candidacy must be received
by March 1, 1971, by the Chairman of the Committee, Dr. Ruth Patrick, Department
of Limnology, Academy of Natural Sciences, 19th and the Parkway, Philadelphia,
Summer Research Participation in Botany for College Teachers at the University
of North Carolina
Department of Botany at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has
been awarded a grant of $ 12,950 by the National Science Foundation to conduct
a research participation program for college teachers during the summer of
1971. The grant provides stipends of $1,000 each for five postdoctoral participants
and $750 for one pre-doctoral participant. In addition, each participant will
receive a dependency and travel allowance. The program will begin June 14
and end August 21.
teacher of biological sciences in a U.S. college or junior college is eligible
to apply. Application forms and a brochure describing the program may be secured
by writing the Director of the program, Dr. Victor A. Greulach, Department
of Botany, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514.
professors available for directing the research of participants are John N.
Couch and William J. Koch in mycology; Max H. Hommersand in phycology and
algal physiology; R. Malcolm Brown, Jr. in phycology and cell ultrastructure;
A. J. Domnas in plant biochemistry; Tom K. Scott in plant physiology; Clifford
Parks in plant genetics and chemotaxonomy; Helmut Lieth in ecology; A. E.
Radford and C. Ritchie Bell in plant taxonomy and systematics; and William
C. Dickison in plant morphology.
goal of the program is to provide an opportunity to resume research activity
by college teachers who have been unable to continue active investigation
because of lack of time, space, or facilities.
12th Pacific Science Congress
The Australian National University, Canberra, will be the site of the 12th
Pacific Science Congress, August 18-September 3, 1971. The four themes to be
featured at this Congress are "Productivity and Conservation in the Pacific,"
"Man in the Pacific," "Environmental Quality and Resource
Political, Legal and Administrative Realities," and "Geological Structure
and Mineral Resources in the Pacific Area." The program will consist entirely
of invited papers. Pre- and post-congress tours of Australia, the Great Barrier
Reef, and of New Guinea are being planned. For further information and registration
forms, write to Organizing Secretary, Twelfth Pacific Science Congress, Australian
Academy of Science, Gordon St., Canberra City, A.C.T. Australia 2601.
Foreign Botanists Elected to Corresponding Membership in the Botanical Society
Faegri, Professor of Systematic Botany and Plant Geography, Chairman of the
Institute of Systematic Botany at the University of Bergen, Norway, is recognized
as an authority on pollen analysis, particularly through his book Textbook
of Pollen Analysis with J. Iverson, and as a plant geographer by his papers
and a two-volume work Plants of Norway. Recently he demonstrated great versatility
with his book, Principles of Pollination Ecology with L. Van der Pijl. Equally
important has been his editorship of a popular science journal Naturen where
he has brought science to the people. His keen mind and articulate presentation
have made him a well-known figure in science in Scandinavia in areas ranging
from problems of narcotics to those of science policy.
Dr. Bruno Huber, now Professor Emeritus at the University of Munich, was long
the Director of its Institute of Forest Botany where he attracted many students
to botany by the excellence of his teaching. Aside from his administrative
duties and his activity in the field of forest practice, Huber is a plant
physiologist and anatomist of world-wide renown. The temperature economy of
plants, physiology of bark slippage, water conduction in trees, gas exchange
physiology, and conduction through the phloem have been his major areas of
interest. His anatomical work on wood and bark and on conifer needles and
tree ring chronology indicates the extent to which he has combined structure
and function in his own activities. Other publications attest to his ecological
background. His prodigious output of over 200 papers can only in-spire admiration.
are very sorry to report that we have learned, since his election at the Business
Meeting of the Botanical Society, that Dr. Huber died in the spring of 1970.
Botanical Garden at the University of British Columbia
L. Taylor, Professor of Botany and Plant Science and Director of the Botanical
Garden at the University of British Columbia, has received approval from the
Board of Governors of the University to proceed with plans for the 77-acre
Botanical Garden. Total costs for this project, which is scheduled for completion
by 1981, have been estimated at somewhat over five million dollars. The main
emphasis, according to Dr. Taylor, will be in the area of research and academic
teaching. A research-administration center building together with some eight
greenhouses will be constructed following the grounds development. In addition
to the greenhouses for research and teaching, the
will feature three display houses containing tropical, temperate, and dry-habitat
plants emphasizing economic and chemically useful plants.
Course in Plant Cell and Tissue Culture
course entitled Plant Cell and Tissue Culture will be offered July 12-August
6, 1971 at the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center, Lake Placid, New York.
Although the course is intended primarily for persons holding the Ph.D., qualified
graduate students will be considered if space is available. The deadline for
receipt of completed applications will probably be February 1, 1971. For further
details and application forms write to Dr. Donald J. Merchant, Director, W.
Alton Jones Cell Science Center, P.O. Box 631, Lake Placid, N.Y. 12946.
Graduate Courses in Tropical Science for 1971
1971 the Organization for Tropical Studies, a consortium of 27 Latin and U.S.
universities created to promote an understanding of tropical environments
and their intelligent use by man, will offer its ninth consecutive year of
graduate courses in tropical science in Central America. A total of eight
courses will be distributed through three semesters commencing on February
1, 1971. Graduate credit for eight semester hours may be earned through the
University of Costa Rica. Courses will be offered in the following disciplines:
Terrestrial Biology and Ecology, Forestry, Geography, Earth Sciences, and
Atmospheric Sciences. Most of the courses will be offered in Costa Rica or
Guatemala, although the Earth Science course will be concentrated in the islands
of the West Indies.
of the OTS courses are field-oriented and highly intensive. The program is
interdisciplinary in nature and problem-oriented. Most of the students will
undertake one or more limited research projects during the training period.
The faculty is selected from universities throughout the Americas, and the
students are chosen on the basis of academic excellence and tropical research
or all of the student expenses are paid under a grant from the National Science
Foundation to the OTS.
and closing dates for applications are indicated as follows:
Ecological Approach November 15, 1970
Exploitation and Diversity: An
Approach with Vertebrates January 15, 1971
Forestry in the Developing Tropics: The
Rican Example January 15, 1971
Carbonate Sedimentation and Early
Processes, British West Indies March 7, 1971
Tropical Biology: An Ecological Approach
I April 1, 1971
Tropical Biology: An Ecological Approach
II April 1, 1971
Physical Landscape and Settlement Patterns
Selected Areas of Central America April 1, 1971
Atmospheric Energy Considerations in a
Environment .. April 1, 1971
descriptive catalog of the courses and applications for enrollment may be
obtained from: The Organization for Tropical Studies, North American Office,
5900 S.W. 73rd St., South Miami, Florida 33143.
Awards Presented at the Botanical Society's Banquet
Darbaker Prize, awarded annually for meritorious work in microscopical algae,
was presented to Bruce C. Parker (Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg,
Virginia) "for his wide-ranging and imaginative investigations which have
resulted in publications that have augmented significantly our knowledge of
algal environments and the chemistry of the cell walls through which algae
interact with these environments." Dr. Parker received a certificate and a
check for $345.
Jeanette Siron Pelton Award, established by the Conservation and Research
Foundation to recognize exceptionally imaginative published contributions
in the field of experimental plant morphology, was awarded to Claude W. Wardlaw,
Emeritus Professor of Botany, University of Manchester, England. Professor
Wardlaw thus became the second person to be honored by this award, which carries
a stipend of $1,000. The citation accompanying the award stated: "Experimental
morphology is a synthetic science and draws its practitioners from the full
spectrum of plant science. It is completely fitting that this award be presented
to a man whose scholarship epitomizes the style of the discipline. Professor
Wardlaw's accomplishments are many and varied, ranging from authoritative
works on the diseases of tropical plants to investigations of morphogenesis
in pteridophytes and angiosperms. Perhaps his greatest contribution has been
made through his various books in which he has effectively argued for a broad
philosophical view of developmental problems. He has outlined many of the
basic morphogenetic problems during the past two decades, and his eloquent
pleas for an integrative approach to the study of plant development will provide
a hallmark for all future investigators."
New York Botanical Garden Award was presented to C. Leo Hitchcock (University
of Washington), Arthur Cronquist (New York Botanical Garden), Marion Ownbey
(Washington State University), and J. W. Thompson (Seattle, Washington) for
their five-volume work, Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Although
publication began in 1955, the final volume was published in 1969 so that
this monumental work has just been completed.
Henry Allan Gleason Award of the New York Botanical Garden, presented annually
to the author of an outstanding recent publication in botany—usually
plant taxonomy, phytogeography, or ecology, went to George Willard Martin
(State University of Iowa). In presenting this award, Dr. W. C. Steere, Executive
Director of the Garden, stated in part that "the 1970 award is presented to
Dr. Martin in recognition of his life-long work on slime molds, culminating
in the recent world mono-graph, The Myxomycetes. This is the first time the
Gleason Award has been given to a cryptogamic botanist, and it is appropriate
that we here recognize Dr. Martin's many years of study on this difficult
group of plants."
Jessie M. Greenman Award, established in 1968 by the Alumni Association of
the Missouri Botanical Gar-den and awarded annually for the best doctorate
thesis in plant systematics published during the preceding year, was awarded
to Dr. Beryl S. Vuilleumier of the Gray Her-barium at Harvard University for
the thesis entitled "The Systematics and Evolution of Perezia Section Perezia
Mary Soper Pope Medal of the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Michigan, was
presented to William C. Steere, Director of the New York Botanical Garden,
for his out-standing contributions to the field of botany.
George R. Cooley Award, presented by the American Society of Plant Taxonomists
for the best paper presented during the current meetings, went to Lorin I.
Nevling, Jr. and Thomas F. Elias of Harvard University for their paper entitled
"Calliandra Pollinia and Systematic Implications."
annual Merit Awards of the Botanical Society, initiated in 1956 and presented
to persons judged to have made outstanding contributions to botanical science,
went to four eminently qualified botanists:
Drechsler (Plant Industry Station, Beltsville) "though one of the leading
authorities on root diseases of truck crops, he is best known for his masterful
work on the zoophagous fungi and particularly the nematode-catching fungi
which he has illustrated with beautiful artistry."
W. Galston (Yale University), "superb teacher, creative investigator in plant
hormones, and bold fighter to prevent misuse of such substances."
M. Schopf (U.S. Geological Survey, Ohio State University), "his studies of
fossil plants, and especially his work on the petrology of coal, are among
the definitive works in this field."
C. Smith (until recently University of Hawaii, now University of Massachusetts),
"his monumental work on the Flora of the Fiji Islands has set exceptionally
high standards and placed him in the front ranks of the students of the systematics
of higher plants."
Department of Botany at the University of British Columbia announces the appointment
of Dr. Ronald E. Foreman (Ph.D., Berkeley). Dr. Foreman's special field is
in physiological ecology. Antero Vaarma, a bryologist and formerly Director
of the Botanical Institute of the University of Turku, Finland, is a visiting
professor this year at the University of British Columbia. Three members of
the UBC botany faculty are currently on leave: G. H. N. Towers, Professor
of Botany and Head of the Department, is spending most of his leave at the
University of East Anglia, Norwich, England; Robert E. Scagel, Professor of
Botany and Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science, will spend most of his
leave in the Vancouver area; E. Bruce Tregtulna, Associate Professor of Botany,
is at the Experimental Station in Harpenden (Hartsf.), England. During Dr.
Towers' absence, Clayton O. Person, Professor of Botany, is the Acting Head
of the Department.
SOLBRIG, OTTO T. Principles and Methods of Plant Bio-systematics. Macmillan,
Toronto. 1970. viii + 226 pp., illus. $9.95.
objective of the author," as stated in the Preface, "is to present the theoretical
and technical aspects of systematics that are not adequately covered in most
of the presently available textbooks." He designed his book "to be used not
only as a textbook in taxonomy courses devoted to the more experimental aspects
of the field, but also as a companion to any of the many fine plant taxonomy
books being used...."
achieve this purpose, he divided his slim volume into two parts of about equal
length: Part I, "The Process of Speciation -and the Forces that Control It"
with seven chapters dealing (somewhat simply) with the history and development
of evolutionary theory, resumes of our knowledge of genetics, plant geography,
speciation, hybridization, and the problem of the definition of terms such
as species. Part II, "Some Techniques for the Study of Species," has five
chapters dealing with various approaches to such study—genetics, cytology,
various biochemical techniques, the uses of statistics—and a concluding
chapter which looks somewhat to the future.
book is lucidly written, for the most part, and should be comprehensible to
the group he has set out to address. Only when he gets into his favorite areas,
as in chapter nine, Cytology, does his narrative become somewhat abstruse
and his illustrations, both textual and figurative (e.g., Figs. 9-3 and 9-4),
somewhat mystifying and insufficiently explicative. His discussion of the
species concept was quite satisfying, and the discussions of breeding systems
and genetics in general were thorough. The work of the Carnegie Institution
group (Clausen, Keck, and Hiesey) on phenetic variability is discussed, as
well as the work of Macmillan on prairie grasses. The latter, I've always
felt, has been, wrongly, rather neglected by others.
I went away from the book vaguely dissatisfied and not quite certain why.
In a way, I think it is because, in many instances, the book takes you, like
Moses, to within sight of the Promised Land, but leaves you without, fated
never to enter. For example, he mentions the concepts of Camp and Gilly's
1943 paper but doesn't really develop a discussion of their interesting, but
unfortunately abortive, attempt at a new nomenclature. Likewise, Turesson's
concepts about ecospecies, ecotypes, etc., are introduced but never developed,
even though the work of Claussen et al. and Macmillan is next discussed. The
basis for understanding how new and different this sort of work was, and is,
is not quite thoroughly enough established.
disappointing, to me, was Part II, on techniques. I rather expected a book
with "Methods" in the title to discuss methods in extenso, with details of
technique. But this is not a "how-to-do-it" book. It outlines various techniques
for studying populational differences, such as gel electrophoresis of proteins,
for example, or chromatography, but does not really discuss how to do such
a study or the physico-chemical bases for such methods of study. Genetic and
cytological techniques receive more attention than the various chemical and
statistical approaches, but even here, the beginning student does not get
any sense of how one organizes such studies.
is a reasonably extensive bibliography of books and journal articles, but
there is no discussion of how to enter and utilize the literature. Nor is
there any discussion of annual review series, such as the one edited by Dobzhansky
et al., Evolutionary Biology, or books and series on phytochemistry, etc.
I think a book aimed at the undergraduate would point out the relevant journals,
annual series, etc., explicitly.
reading of this book brought to me once again
the realization that, for the most part, biosystematic and
evolutionary studies deal with the mature organism, the
endpoint of ontogenetic processes. Solbrig alludes to this
now and again but, again, does not develop the idea fully.
Here we have thousands of plant species possessing the
same glycolytic pathway, electron transport pathway, photo-
systems I and II, etc., the same few growth regulators:
IAA, abscissic acid, a few gibberellins and cytokinins,
perhaps; phytochrome, and so on. And yet how different
they all are! How little we know of the effects attendant
upon the starting and stopping of growth regulator pro-
duction and transport; of the subtle shades of difference
in response to the functioning of the phytochrome system,
etc. When we can characterize and differentiate related
species by a knowledge of the differences in the ongoing
ontogeneses, and be able to say how the ontogenetic
processes in these populations change with time, then
we will really be able to say we know what evolution is.
H. David Hammond
C. DEN. 1970. The Sea-Grasses of the World.
Publishing Company, Amsterdam. 275 pp., 63 figs., 31 pls. $15.40.
monograph on the marine Angiosperms constitutes the first worldwide coverage
on the group and fills a recognized gap. Treatment of taxonomic, geographical,
and ecological data is exhaustive, well written and will be easily used. Maps
displaying geographic distribution for each genus are given. There is an excellent
discussion on the phylogenetic origin of the seagrasses.
to subfamilies, genera, and species are clear and well written. For the most
part keys are based on vegetative characters. This by itself should stimulate
their use in those geographic areas, such as the Indo-Pacific region, where
species identification has been difficult owing to a very diverse literature.
author has used one or two characters in delimiting species in certain genera.
For instance, in the subgenus Zosterella, a new species of Zostera, Z. americana,
has been erected solely on the basis of two characters, leaf tip shape and
shape of retinacula (flap along spadix margins), both of which seem to intergrade
with the Japanese species Z. japonica. This practice has been carried to the
extreme in the tropical genus Halodule, where several species were erected
solely on the basis of the shape of the leaf tip.
book will be welcomed by anyone working or contemplating work on seagrasses.