Sunday, 5 January 2014

What do taxonomists do? 

Bust of Linnaeus presiding over Herbarium, Univ. Reading
Image: C. Metherell
Thanks to BSBI member and Blogger extraordinaire Jonathan Mitchley for spotting this excellent video by Dr Sandy Knapp of the Natural History Museum. Called 'Understanding Plant Diversity', Dr Knapp talks for almost an hour about taxonomy, phylogenetics, plant ID and why herbaria are so important, illustrating her talk with slides - some show herbarium specimens collected by Linnaeus and Joseph Banks.

She tells us about her work on the Potato Family Solanaceae and talks about discovering and describing new species. She tackles questions like - what is a species? Her working definition is: "a hypothesis about the distribution of variation in nature". Finally, she answers the question - why are we bothering with all this? 

Click here to watch the video and please let me know if you've spotted any other good videos about botany - leave a comment below or email me, louise.marsh@bsbi.org