Darwin-L Message Log 1:42 (September 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<1:42>From rom@anbg.gov.au  Mon Sep  6 22:17:35 1993

Date: Tue, 7 Sep 93 13:19:27 EST
From: rom@anbg.gov.au (Bob Makinson)
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: intro from Australia (phylogenetic botany)

Keywords:  botany, phylogenetics, Proteaceae, Grevillea, geology,

Greetings all on Darwin-L.  My name is Bob Makinson.  I am the
Curator of the Herbarium at the Australian National Botanic Gardens,
in Canberra.

My research interests relate to plant evolution and phylogeny,
particularly in the Proteaceae (a major Gondwanan family).  Having
recently completed co-authorship of an alpha-taxonomic revision of
the genus Grevillea (the third largest plant genus in Australia), I
am now engaged in a follow-up study of the subgeneric phylogeny
(using cladistic methods) and biogeography of that genus.

I have amateur interests also in geology and in human cultural and
political history and prehistory.

An appreciation of change and stasis over evolutionary time is fairly
essential in the context of the Australian flora, given that the
continent has been substantially biologically isolated for most of
the last 60-80 million years.  The basic lack of orogenic activity in
that time has resulted in relatively few depositional environments
(implying firstly a rather sparse fossil record, and secondly a very
slow rate of formation of new soils and soil surfaces).  Much of the
sclerophyll vegetation of Australia has evolved in low-nutrient
situations on very old leached soil horizons, and these edaphic
conditions, together with past ebbs and flows of aridity, have
apparently governed patterns of speciation and distribution over very
long periods, providing a temporal mosaic of static and dynamic
domains with (presumably) corresponding selection pressures.

The possibilities for conceptual reconstruction of past edaphic and
vegetational regimes, from the fragmentary evidence provided across
an eroding continental surface, is fascinating me more and more, and
I will have to be careful not to lose focus on the central
phylogenetic point of the project.  Plus I have only a fairly basic
degree of geological literacy.

I am particularly interested in hearing from geologists and
biogeographers with insights into such patterns in Australia and the
Australasian region.

If I can assist with contacts etc in Australian botany or related
fields I will be pleased to help.

Bob Makinson
7 Sept 1993

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