[Taxacom] Herbarium sequence revisited

Peter Stevens peter.stevens at mobot.org
Tue Jun 6 07:35:46 CDT 2006

>At 02:50 AM 6/6/2006, Chapman, Alex wrote:
>>My interpretation of these previous discussions is that most contributors
>>believed that a systematic sequence (as opposed to alphabetic) was the
>>preferred one if the opportunity arose, however, adoption of APG may be
>>premature (as at January 2002).  In June 2006, my feeling is that the
>>basic ordinal framework is now strongly supported and unlikely to change
>>topology in any radical way.  However, as Peter Stevens acknowledged in
>>1999, "even with the APG system, there are very, very many ways of
>>arranging families in a linear sequence".  My question is - has anyone
>>attempted to define a linear sequence of families aligned to the APG II
>>ordinal framework (and below) and has it been implemented in a herbarium
>>of reasonable size?  If so, what is the user experience - for both
>>curators and visitors.  If it was considered but rejected as an option,
>>what were the perceived problems (and what system was subsequently adopted)?
>>Our team here would value any insights TAXACOM list members may have on
>>this subject.
>Here is a totally radical thought, that basically just represents thinking
>out loud.
>Basic premise: a linear sequence seems antithetical to our tree-like model
>of evolution, yet some of us desire that thearrangement of families relate
>to phylogeny.
>Would it be at all possible to arrange cabinets not in linear rows, but in
>*clusters*???   Islands representing the various APG II orders?  And the
>allied clusters nmearer one another?  It would probably be terribly
>wasteful of floor space, but that might depend on the footprint
>available.  In some spaces, would it perhaps be a more efficient use of
>space?? (I have a hard time conceptualizing in 3-D so I can't say.)
>In any case, it might be something to consider, for folks who have rejected
>the ease and convenience of the alphabet.
>Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

I know of a couple of herbaria that are all or in part APG, and 
another large herbaria that is working on a sequence.  Some botanic 
gardens in the 19thC tried to have plantings along the lines you 
suggest for herbarium cabinets, and I have heard suggestions for 
doing something similar for contemporary botanic gardens.,

Given the problem of converting a phylogeny to a linear sequence, why 
not simply have phylogenies on the herbarium doors?  The best you 
could do with cabinets would be a sort of Dahlgrenogram in iron.

And a somewhat less serious suggestion, in the foyer/lobby of the 
herbarium building, which would be like that of a McMansion and the 
height of the whole building, you could have a gigantic mobile with 
the ultimate units families; the branches of the mobile would 
represent sister group relationships (you would still have to work in 
a few polychotomies).  That would really show you relationships, as 
things twisted about in the breeze.  Or better still, get an old 
aircraft hanger and have the herbarium cabinets themselves on 


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