Research Areas and Sub-Specialties
Vascular Plant Systematics
Systematics is the study of organismal diversity, and aims to uncover the patterns and processes of evolution. It entails the discovery, description and interpretation of diversity, as well as the synthesis of this information via predictive classifications. Systematists aim to unravel the branches of the evolutionary tree of life, and document the changes that have occurred throughout evolutionary history. This makes systematics more than just a descriptive science - it aims to uncover evolutionary processes.
The goal of our vascular plant systematics program is to determine the botanical diversity, distribution, inter-relationships and genetic systems of vascular plants. We aim to discover and document changes that have occurred through evolution, including phylogeny, hybridization and polyploidy, and we accomplish this through both traditional morphological methods and using the most advanced molecular techniques, including DNA sequencing and genomics (e.g., AFLPs). Part of systematics is to describe all the species we encounter, and our program is involved in this through the creation of monographs (detailed descriptions of a particular plant group) and floras (more general descriptions of many plant groups).
Faculty researching this area include: