Submitted to: Journal of the International Association of Plant Taxonomy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 21, 2010
Publication Date: August 8, 2011
Citation: Spooner, D.M. 2011. The significance of field work in monographic studies. Journal of the International Association of Plant Taxonomy. 153:25-32. Interpretive Summary: A taxonomic monograph is a comprehensive and synthetic publication used in all phases of plant biology ranging from ecology to biodiversity conservation to breeding. It presents identification keys, illustrations, descriptions, localities, habitat data, distribution maps, synonymies, cytological and molecular data, and hypotheses of relationships. This paper outlines the many advantages of conducting field work to improve the completeness and accuracy of a taxonomic monograph as a result of access to data available only in the field or in associated herbaria where these plants grow.
Technical Abstract: The focus of this paper is to document the clear and obvious advantages of field work for monographic studies. These advantages include: 1) ability to understand published distributions better and greatly expand these data, 2) access to taxonomic data obscured on herbarium sheets (as colors, odors, glandularity, branching patterns) but best observed in the field, 3) ability to take photographs for species illustrations or habitats, 4) access to ecological and populational data useful to understand possible hybridization or isolating mechanisms, 5) access to population variation, 6) access to collections best obtained in the field useful for later morphological or cytological or molecular studies (as liquid preserved parts, fixed flower buds, or silica dried tissue), 7) ready access to collections, including types, in herbaria where the plants grow, highlighting possible new species or distributions before you commence collecting, 8) access to local experts or local residents who may lead you to new localities or provide critical data in other ways.