Public funding of phylogenetic analysis

Richard Zander bryo at COMMTECH.NET
Thu Nov 20 11:51:37 CST 1997

The U.S. National Science Foundation gives a summary of grants awarded
in various years (

For the year 1997 (NSF 1997), about $15 million was awarded in 96 grants
for systematic research. Of these, 55 awards (57%) had the words
phylogeny or cladistic or molecular systematics or some variant in their
title: these grants totalled about $7.5 million, averaging $135,000 per
grant. An additional 16 grants (16%) had the word evolution or a variant
in their title: these grants totalled about $1.5 million, averaging
$97,000 per grant. The 23 remaining systematics research grants (23%)
totalled about $5.3 million, averaging $250,000 per grant; for these,
any emphasis on phylogenetics could not be told from their titles. If
one combines the phylogenetic and evolution categories (evolution in
systematics studies being almost certainly used in the sense of
phylogenetics), support for modern computerized evolutionary analysis by
NSF in 1997 is conservatively estimated at about $9 million (of a $14
million pot), taking at least 70% of the awards.

Shouldn't we get to vote on this? Maybe change the emphasis a little? Of
course, one expects wonderful things from molecular systematics, and the
studies are expensive.... One might hope that, in view of the well-known
world-wide critical status of biological diversity, alpha taxonomic
studies (keys, descriptions, nomenclature, typification, discussion of
range and variation, illustration, etc.) are part of phylogenetic
projects, as is sometimes the case, that are supported by NSF.


Richard H. Zander, Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14211 USA bryo at

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