By Dan Murphy
As a plant systematist I work in a herbarium as part of a botanic garden (but the views expressed here are mine alone). My research covers the areas of plant identification, taxonomy, systematics, classification and biogeography of flowering plants, using mostly molecular data but also morphology. I have quite broad interests in plants and their uses – including horticulture, gardening and agriculture – which I will write about elsewhere. However, most pertinent for this blog are my specialised interests in several major plant groups, distributed mostly in Australia and neighbouring regions, including Acacia and related legumes; the molecular systematics and identification of grasses; forays into the fascinating Adansonia and Proteaceae (Persoonia); and plant distributions (the science of biogeography) generally.
A big challenge in this research is answering the “when” questions. In many regions plants are regarded as having a “natural” distribution if they were present before (a somewhat arbitrary) cut-off date. Continue reading