Definitive Monograph Nominees
Neil.Snow at ENV.QLD.GOV.AU
Mon Jun 29 08:36:04 CDT 1998
Many thanks to all who replied to my TAXACOM query (16 June 1998)
regarding nominations for a =93definitive monograph=94. Appended below a=
those submitted. The only two nominated more than once were those by
Barneby (on Astragalus) and Babcock (on Crepis).
I have included the comments of the person who sent each nomination but
will not identify the individual. The ////// separates each entry.
For those interested I would recommend an article by Grimes (Australian
Systematic Botany 11: 243-249. 1998), who recently discussed the topic
of monography from the perspectives of overall cost, and their relation
to the production of Floras. =
Thanks again, and heres the list. N. Snow
Warren, B.C.S. 1936. Monograph of the Genus _Erebia_. British Museum
(Natural History). 407 pages + 1648 figures (104 plates).
This work is still the definitive monograph on this large group of
Hackel's Andropogoneae treatment.
Harriet Richardson's 1905 "A Monograph on the Isopods of North
America." Bulletin of the United States National Museum 54: 727 pp.
It is THE classic work on isopod taxa in the area and is such a daunting
subject that no one has ever been able to update it adequately in a
similar format. It covers marine, freshwater & terrestrial species. =
There have been, of course, some names changes in the subsequent 93
years, & some of the concepts of species have changed (particularly for
the terrestrial spp.), but it remains a very useful paper with excellant
keys & illos.
Probably the most impressive work (published in several parts) in the
literature is that of P.H. Timberlake, "A revisional study of the bees
the genus Perdita F. Smith, with special reference to the fauna of the
Pacific Coast". Part I was published in 1954, continuing to part VII in
1968 (plus two supplements in 1971 and 1980), all in Univ. California
Publ. Ent., vols as follows:
9: 345-432; 11: 247-350;14: 303-410;17: 1-156; 28: 1-124; 28: 125-388
49: 1-196; 66: 1-63; 85: 1-65
This work covers some 850 species, probably the largest single bee genus
in the world (only Andrena and Lasioglossum - depending on how one
defines the latter - might challenge it, and Perdita is limited to only
North and Central America, while the others are nearly cosmopolitan!!).
Amazingly, there are still at least another 100 species undescribed that
have turned up since then, but the important thing is that it is very
easy to recognize new species, because there is no question about what
species ARE described.
Diagnostic features of male genitalia were illustrated for every
and he wrote phenomenally detailed descriptions. At over 1000 cumulative
pages, only LaBerge's work on the genus Andrena even comes close in
scope, followed by Mitchell's work on Megachile. Those three are
unquestionably THE major works on bees, and possibly on insects in
general (though Seitz' "Der Schmetterlinge der Erde" is damn
Michener, CD. 1944. Comparative external morphology, phylogeny, and a
classification of the bees (Hymenoptera). Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist.
Pennell, Francis W. 1935. The Scrophulariaceae of Eastern Temperate
North America. Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia Monographs
Take a look at Kyomatsu Matsubara's two volume work on the Scorpaenoid
Fishes of Japan. Published in the Sigenkagku Kenkyoshu in 1943. It is
remarkable for 1) its level of detail, 2) its accurate illustrations,
both of the external features of the fish, as well as a
nearly complete survey of internal anatomical details, 3) its
demonstration of an understanding of cladistic reasoning, although not
using contemporary terminology and methods of presentation, 4) the
detailed statisitical treatment, that was, of course, done by hand and
not computer, 5) the size of his statistical datasets, 6) the
correctness of many of his conclusions, even though he looked at only a
portion of the total world scorpaenoid fauna, then known primarily only
from nearshore species, and 7) the fact it was published in English
during the height of the war. Even today, Japanese ichthyological
studies follow the format for reporting qualitative character data in
the way first presented by Matsubara.
Admittedly, English was not his first language, but his was nonetheless
clearly better than many for whom English is their first language and
better than many who have published on fishes. Regrettably, this work
is relatively poorly known. Few copies remain in existence, because of
the bombing of the publisher's warehouse during the war. Nonetheless,
there may well be a copy in that beautiful library at the Queensland
Museum. It was published in two parts, I and II that came out a few
months apart. Ironically, some work of greatly inferior quality by the
American ichthyologist Henry Weed Fowler came out in between to
complicate the nomenclature of one species. =
I could probably think of a few others in ichthyology, but this one in
particular stands out inmy mind stand out as extraordinary example of
scholarship. Having studied scorpaenoid fishes for the last 20 years, I
can very much appreicate just how much time and effort went into
Matsubara's work, as well as attest to its accuracy for all but a few
species. Few ever come close to such a monumental level of achievement. =
Heinrich, C. 1956. American moths of the subfamily Phycitinae
(Lepidoptera; Pyralidae). Bulletin of the United States National Museum
# 207. 581 pages.
Most of the works that come to mind for malacology are actually faunal
monographs rather than true systematic monographs, which I would take to
mean treating all members of a taxon worldwide (or at least all recent
members). So I'll make my nomination for a fauna:
Pilsbry, Henry A. 1940-1948. Land Mollusca of North America (North of
Mexico). The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Monograph 3.
The work was published in four volumes, each more than 500 pages, and
fifty years later is still the definitive work on the subject (and all
but the first volume are still in print).
Hubbell, Theodore Huntington. 1936. A monographic revision of the
genus _Ceuthophilus_ (Orthoptera, Gryllacrididae, Rhaphidophorinae).
_Univ.Florida Publs., Biol. Sci. Ser_, 2(1): 1-551
The monograph remains an exemplar of how to do a monograph. The
characters used are carefully defined and illustrated. The keys are
clear, and based not on the technical characters but on the characters
which best separate the taxa in the hand. Where an otherwise useful
division has one or two ambiguous species, instead of tryong to
achieve a perfect division, the iffys are keyed out under both
choices. The females are not distiguishable at the species level by
structure, so Hubble used initial geographic subdivisions, then
whatever worked, and refers you to the text when a stubborn group of
species simply can't be separated, but didn't use that as an excuse
not to treat females. All the keys have been proven by 52 years of
use to work very well.
The phyllogeny of the group is discussed using shared, derived
characters, and the phyllogenetic hypothesis corellated with
zoogeographic information. The methods section continues to be
referenced in manuals on entomological field and preparation methods. =
Oh, and all characters used are thoroughly illustrated, with the
illustration referenced in the discussion of the cahracter, and
significant taxonomic structures are illustrated for all species.
The group was chaos when Hubbell tackled it, and he sorted it out in a
fashion that has stood the test of time. The only changes to the
group since have been the description of a few new species from
regions where he was unable to get much material.
Systematics and evolution of Littorina / David G. Reid. London : Ray
Society, 1996. x, 463 p.,  leaf of plates : ill. (1 col.), maps ;
This for 18 species. This work has set the new standart for malacology
(Mollusca). The work deals with some intertidal snails known with the
common name "Periwinkle".
Babcock, E. B. 1947. The Genus Crepis. University of California
Publications in Botany 21 and 22. xii + pp. 1-198, x + pp. 199-1030.
Distills a lifetime's genetic, biosystematic and taxonomic work. Good
descriptions and illustrations. One of the first monographs of a large
plant group to use chromosome numbers and karyotypes as part of an
overall synthesis of all kinds of data.
Zahn, K. H. 1921-1923. Compositae-Hieracium. In A. Engler (ed.), Das
Pflanzenreich IV. 280. About 1700 pp.
Not sure if this meets all your criteria, but everyone who gets near
Hieracium has to deal with this work. It definitely qualifies as
monumental. Zahn relied on herbarium material for his understanding of
American taxa (and I'm not too sure he had a grasp of American
geography), had some outdated nomenclatural practices, and generally
lacked illustrations, but I personally cannot conceive of the amount of
work it took to produce this monograph.
H. Inoue & R.M. Schuster, "A Monograph of the New Zealand
Plagiochilaceae". J. Hattori Bot. Lab. 34: 1-225 (1971). (A family of
My nomination is =
Morphology and Subdivision of _Amanita_ and a
Monograph of its Section _Lepidella_ by Cornelis Bas
1969. Persoonia 5: 285-579.
This work contributed to changing the face of agaricology in the world. =
Most publications in the field still have a hard time measuring up to
Bas' work. When I first read it, I was astounded at the difference
between it and all the other work I had read before. The others seemed
superficial, hurried, sloppy. Since that time I have found other
beautiful works in agaricology, but none have had the same impact on me
as did the work of Dr. Bas (Leiden, Rijksherbarium).
Kissinger, D. G. 1968. Curculionidae subfamily Apioninae of North and
Central America with reviews of the World genera of Apioninae and World
subgenera of Apion Herbst (Coleoptera). Taxonomic Publications, South
Lancaster, Massachusetts. 559 pp., 221 figs.
A monograph that fits your description is a worldwide monograph on the
green alge in the family Characeae by Wood and Imahori (1965, Kramer
1. It was published in 1965.
2. It was a monuental synthesis and covers thousands of specimens from
all over the world.
3. Although it is terribly dense and uses a controversial system for
ranking subspecifictaxa, it will be cited by all future workers. =
Various ranks of varieties and forms are mostly considered species by
researchers working today; Wood realized his system would be
controversial and included a published list of "microspecies" at the
back showing which forms were which microspecies--today most of us just
use the microspecies names and rank them as species.
4. Despite the problem mentioned above, the descriptions and
illustrations are useful for identifying specimens. =
5. The work was meticulous; most controversies are based on differences
of opinion--and there are quite a few.
6. The work is 2 volumes. vol. 1: 904 pages; vol 2: (iconography) about
The only caveat about this is that the book is maddeningly difficult to
use; but I do so frequently. =
I find myself increasingly impressed by Andersen's 1912 volume entitled
"Catalogue of the Chiroptera in the collections of the British Museum,
2nd edition. I. Megachiroptera."
This majestic effort has stood for roughly 70 years and has probably
more to shape the thoughts of bat workers than any other single volumes
relating specifically to taxonomy or systematics. The volume is 854
pages of text, an impressive work by any standards, and shows remarkable
attention to detail.
one my favorite would be Nannfeldt's studies about the non-lichenised
NANNFELDT, J.A. (1932) - Studien =FCber die Morphologie und Systematik de=
nicht-lichenisierten inoperculaten Discomyceten. Nova Acta Reg. Soc.
Sci. Upsaliensis, Ser. IV, Vol. 8(2), 368 pages + 20 black/white plates.
In my opinion it meets all the point you mentined and is still extremely
useful today. There is nearly no treatment of inoperculate ascomycetes
today without citation of this work. But I'm not sure whether it could
be called a monograph in strict sense.
I would chose Romagnesi's work about Russula:
ROMAGNESI, H. (1967) - Les Russules d'Europe et d'Afrique du Nord.
Paris. (I don't know the number of pages, but definitly much more then
It is not possible to work on the genus Russula without the monograph of
Romagnesi, even in these parts of the world which are outside the area
this monograph covers.
The following is the definitive work on the Australian and New Zealand
fauna, bringing together all the information known to that date and the
basis on which all subsequent and future work is based.
Evans, J.W. (1966), The Leafhopper and Froghoppers of Australia and New
Zealand (Homoptera: Cicadelloidea and Cercopoidea). Australian Museum
Memoir 12: 1-347
There is a series of several large monographs by Merv Nielson on the
subfamily Coelidiinae across the Pacific. David Young published
three major publications on the subfamily Cicadellinae totalling
2061 pages. Ribaut's two works on the Fauna of France covering the
Deltocephalinae (Ribaut 1952) and the Typhlocybinae (Ribaut 1936) are
basis for Europe. Linnavuori published a magnificent work in 1959 on the
Neotropical Deltocephalinae (370 pages). =
If you extend to groups other than leafhoppers, Elwood C. Zimmerman
published about three feet of shelf space in his monumental Insects of
Hawaii and is currently finishing the Weevils of Australia in 8 volumes
which, when completed, will give Zimmie a world record for the number of
scientific pages published.
I guess my only other comment is that the Australian Deltocephalinae and
Typhlocybinae will be the subject of definitive works published both as
hard copy and as interactive illustrated keys on CD-ROM by myself, when
finally get them finished.
For me as a beetle taxonomist, and for the group I am working in =
(family Leiodidae), the following monograph surely goes through the =
criteria given in your message:
Jeannel R. 1936: Monographie des Catopidae (Insectes Col=E9opt=E8res).
M=E9m. Mus. Natn. Hist. Nat. (Nouv. S=E9r.) 1: 1-433.
Two from the last century which impress in different ways - Martius on
palms - but this came out over several decades, and Bentham's on the
Labiatae, judged by Asa Gray (I think) the best monograph of its kind
(not illustrated) when it appeared. I am using Martius in an exhibit =
here that is running over the summer, and the anatomical work of Hugo
von Mohl that is part of it and which appeared in 1831 has to be seen to
be believed - where were we over the ensuing 150 years?
Barneby, R.C. 1964. Atlas of North American Astragalus, pts. 1 & 2. =
Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 13: 1-1188.
Barneby, R.C. 1977. Dakeae imagines, an illustrated revision of =
Ertrazurizia Philippi, Psorothamnus Rydberg, Marina Liebmann, and Dalea =
Lucanus emend. Barneby, including all species of Leguminosae tribe =
Amorpheae Borissova ever referred to Dalea. Memoirs of the New York =
Botanical Garden 27: 1-891.
Irwin, H.s., and R.C. Barneby. 1982. The American Cassiinae: A =
synoptical revision of Leguminosae tribe Cassieae subtribe Cassiinae in =
the New World. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 35(1,2):
Barneby, R.C. 1991. Sensitivae censitae: A description of the genus =
Mimosa Linnaeus (Mimosaceae) in the New World. Memoirs of the New York =
Botanical Garden 65: 1-835.
Barneby,R.C., and J.W. Grimes. 1996. Silk tree, guanacaste, monkey's =
earring: A generic system for the synandrous Mimosaceae of the Americas. =
Part I. Abarema, Albizia, and allies. Memoirs of the New York Botanical =
Garden 74(1): 1-292.
Barneby,R.C., and J.W. Grimes. 1997. Silk tree, guanacaste, monkey's
earring: A generic system for the synandrous Mimosaceae of the Americas.
Part II. Pithecellobium, Cojoba, and Zygia. Memoirs of the New York =
Botanical Garden 74(3): 1-149.
Barneby,R.C., and J.W. Grimes. 1998. Silk tree, guanacaste, monkey's
earring: A generic system for the synandrous Mimosaceae of the Americas.
PartI. Calliandra. Memoirs of the New York Botanical
Garden 74(3): In press.
Hall, H. M. 1928. The genus Haplopappus, a phylogenetic study in the
Compositae. Publ. Carnegie Institute Washington 389.
Peter H. and Tamara Engelhorn Raven. 1976. The Genus Epilobium in
Australasia. (1976, so it doesn't meet your time criterion, but it's
still a beautfiful monograph)
Dr. Neil Snow
Queensland Herbarium - Conservation Strategy Branch
Brisbane Botanic Gardens - Mt. Coot-tha
Mt. Coot-tha Road
Toowong, QLD 4066
Tel: (07) 3896 9319 Fax: (07) 3896 9624
E-mail: Neil.Snow at env.qld.gov.au
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