Diversity text

Margaret A. Kuchenreuther kuchenma at CAA.MRS.UMN.EDU
Tue Apr 8 11:47:58 EST 1997


I've faced a similar problem when teaching my one quarter course, "Plant 
Evolution,"  a course that is directed at upper division undergraduates, in 
which we consider some of the "big questions" in the evolution of land plants.  
I created this course to replace Plant Morphology because I wanted my course to 
be less descriptive than the traditional morphology course and capture the 
excitement of current thinking in paleobotany, plant systematics, etc.  I don't 
treat the fungi but do talk about algal groups and all of the land plants.

I've not used basic botany texts for this course because they don't go into 
sufficient depth about the important aspects of morphology and/or diversity 
within each division, especially the "missing links" between extant groups, nor 
do they take a very cladistic approach.  

I've tried using Peter(?) Bell's Plant Diversity book and also Martin 
Ingrouille's Diversity and Evolution of Land Plants.  Neither was completely 
satisfactory to me (and neither covers the fungi).  I WOULD NOT recommend 
Lorentz Pearson's The Diversity and Evolution of Plants (which does treat 
fungi).  I find it overly detailed and really quite tedious to read, and though 
copyrighted 1995, it ignores such things as the abundant evidence pointing to 
Coleochaete as the probable sister group of land plants, and the evidence of 
Psilotum as a reduced fern, rather than a close relative of the early land 
plants like Rhynia.

In my last offering, I scrapped the text and relied heavily on a large reference
collection in lab, including Bold, Scagel et al. etc., and some current papers 
-- also not a very satisfactory approach, especially for those students with a 
limited botanical background.

I use lots of information from Stewart and Rothwell's Paleobotany and the 
Evolution of Plants for my lectures but can use it as a text because it's rough 
going even for me (since I am an ecologist, not a morphologist).

I dearly wish some paleobotanists with an interest in teaching would get 
together with a couple of anatomists/morphologists and write a good, accessible 
text for undergraduates on this topic.  New information is emerging all the time
about the diversification of major plant groups, so students can be led rather 
easily to see that the subject is exciting and a far cry from the often held 
notion that botany is a musty/dusty sort of field where everything has been 
known for centuries.

Best of luck,.  Please let me know if you find something that really works.


Margaret A. Kuchenreuther
Assistant Professor of Biology           
Division of Science and Mathematics                   
University of Minnesota - Morris
Morris, MN  56267

Phone: (320) 589-6335 or -6300 (message)
FAX:  (320) 589-6371
email:  kuchenma at caa.mrs.umn.edu 

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