Biology

Peter Stevens

 

Peter Stevens, Ph.D.

Ph.D., Edinburgh, Biology, 1970.
M.A., Oxford, 1971.
B.A., Oxford, 1966

Office: R327. Tel: 516-6215
Office: Missouri Botanical Garden, Monsanto Building, 3rd floor
E-mail: peter.stevens@mobot.org

Employment


Professor of Biology at the University of Missouri-St Louis and Curator, Missouri Botanical Garden, January 1999-present.

Professor of Biology and Curator of the Arnold Arboretum and Gray Herbarium, Harvard University, 1983-1998

Associate Professor of Biology and Associate Curator of the Arnold Arboretum and Gray Herbarium, Harvard University, 1980-1983

Assistant Professor of Biology and Associate Curator of the Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, 1977-1980

Assistant Curator, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, 1973-1976

Botanist, Division of Botany, Dept. of Forests, Lae, Papua New Guinea, 1970-1973

Current interests


My research interests are in two main areas. I have long been interested in the Malesian flora, especially that of New Guinea, and in phylogenetic/monographic studies (currently mostly in Clusiaceae, also Ericaceae). This study of plants is my first and continuing love. I have also developed strong interests in history of systematic biology, especially the period 1750-1900, in systematic theory, especially the issue of data in systematics and delimitation of character states, and in the relationship between cognitive psychology and systematic theory and practice, past and present. In general, I try to understand just what it is that morphological systematists do, whether sight-identifying herbarium specimens or performing phylogenetic analyses. This understanding will help us improve our practice, and also clarify how the whole systematic endeavor relates to other branches of biology, and to the public at large.

My more theoretical and historical concerns are intimately linked to practice, hence work in one area often has implications in others. Thus debates over species limits in the 19th C mirror current discussions over species limits in the Malesian region. The main issue is under what conditions does the systematist see discontinuities used to delimit species. Resolution of this issue has fundamental implications for biodiversity and ecological studies; in some genera the number of species we recognize may be wrongly estimated by a factor of two or more.

Hence there is no conflict between these different concerns, except there is not enough time in the day to follow up all their ramifications. It is both interesting and sobering to see how often apparently quite different issues in the history of systematics and in current practice reduce to the problem posed by continuity and our attempts to solve it - which are all too often confounded by the fact that we have not fully realized the extent of the problem.

Over the last decade in particular I have become involved in what may loosely be called attempts to develop consensus in taxonomy. Hence my involvement with the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, which is promoting a consensus classification for flowering plants. With the technical advice of Hilary Davis I developed and have since (the last seven years) run the Angiosperm Phylogeny website. This uses the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification and attempts to provide a current summary of our understanding of seed plant phylogeny at the level of generic groupings and above.

Synergistic Activities


Editorial Board/Associate Editor: American Journal of Botany; Zoologica Scripta; Flora Malesiana; Blumea; Edinburgh Journal of Botany.


Graduate Students


(in last 5 years)
Alberto Vicentini, Monica Carlsen, Indiana Coronado, Cynthia Hong-Wa, David Kenfack, Lúcia Lohmann, Matt Ogburn, Pamela Puppo, Lupita Sánchez-Torke, Felipe Zapata.


Teaching


Plants of the Tropics; Systematic Biology; Outline of Biological Diversity; History of Systematic Biology; Evolution and Diversification of Flowering Plants [introductory level families]; Angiosperm Families [covers all angiosperm families]; Taxonomy and Plant Families [in Brasil, Costa Rico (for Organisation of Tropical Studies and InBio), Madagascar, Peru]; Introduction to biology (for biology majors, the organismal semester).
Determination sessions: 1 1/2 hour sessions with graduate students/post docs/visitors to refresh knowledge of/learn family limits and morphology.


Curation


When in A/GH all incoming material from the Indo-Malesian region was scanned to check that identifications were not wildly wrong, and to ensure that all specimens were identified at least to family. Specimens with wrong or no family identification from anywhere in the world were identified where possible, this activity continues. Material of Clusiaceae in particular and Ericaceae is curated.


Grants


NSF DBI-9808220. The International Plant Names Index: An internet-accessible authority file of scientific names of seed plants using distributed object technologies. (3 years, $615,931, co P.I.)

Selected Publications

Reviewed:

1999k. (J. Croft, N. Cross, S. Hinchcliffe, E. Nic Lughadha, PFS, J. G. West & G. Whitbread.) Plants names for the 21st century: The International Plant Names Index, a distributed data source of general accessibility. Taxon 48: 317-324.
2000a. Botanical Systematics 1950-2000: Change, progress, or both? Taxon 49: 635-659

2000b. On characters and character states: do overlapping and non-overlapping variation, morphology and molecules, all yield data of the same value? Pp. 81-105 in R.W. Scotland and R.T. Pennington (eds), Homology and Systematics: coding characters for phylogenetic analysis. London.

2002a. (M. H. Gustafsson, V. Bittrich & PFS.) Phylogeny of Clusiaceae based on rbcL sequences. Int. J. Plant Sci. 163: 1045-1054.

2002b. Why do we name organisms? Some reminders from the past. Taxon 51: 11-26.

2002c. (K. A. Kron, W. S. Judd, W. S., PFS, D. M.. Crayn, A. A. Anderberg, P. A. Gadek, C. J. Quinn & J. L. Luteyn.) A phylogenetic classification of Ericaceae: Molecular and morphological evidence. Bot. Rev. 68: 335-423.

2003a. (Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. [B. Bremer, K. Bremer, M. W. Chase, J. L. Reveal, D. E. Soltis, P. S. Soltis & PFS].) An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG II. Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 141: 399-436.

2003b. New taxa in Paphia and Dimorphanthera (Ericaceae) in Papuasia and the problem of generic limits in Vaccinieae. Edinburgh J. Bot. 60: 267-298.

2003c. George Bentham (1800-1884): the life of a botanist's botanist. Archives Nat. Hist. 30:189-202.

2004a. (PFS & A. L. Weitzman.) Sladeniaceae. Pp. 431-433, in K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. VI. Flowering Plants. Dicotyledons. Celastrales, Oxalidales, Rosales, Cornales, Ericales. Springer, Berlin.

2004b. (PFS, S. Dressler & A. L. Weitzman.) Theaceae. Pp. 463-471, in K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. VI. Flowering Plants. Dicotyledons. Celastrales, Oxalidales, Rosales, Cornales, Ericales. Springer, Berlin.

2004c. (PFS, J. Luteyn, E. G. H. Oliver, T. L. Bell, E. A. Brown, R. K. Crowden, A. S. George, G. J. Jordan, P. Ladd, K. Lemson, C. B. McLean, Y. Menadue, J. S. Pate, H. M. Stace & C. M. Weiller.) Ericaceae. Pp. 145-194, in K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. VI. Flowering Plants. Dicotyledons. Celastrales, Oxalidales, Rosales, Cornales, Ericales. Springer, Berlin.

2004d. (A. L. Weitzman, S. Dressler & PFS.) Ternstroemiaceae. Pp. 450-460, in K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. VI. Flowering Plants. Dicotyledons. Celastrales, Oxalidales, Rosales, Cornales, Ericales. Springer, Berlin.

2005a. (A. N. Doust & PFS.) A reinterpretation of the staminate flowers of Haptanthus. Syst. Bot. 30: 779-785.

2005b. Combinations in Mammea (Clusiaceae) with the description of a remarkable species, M. zeereae, from Madagascar. Harvard Pap. Bot. 9: 429-434.

2006a. An end to all things? - plants and their names. Australian Syst. Bot. 19: 1-19.

2006b. (A. Pujar, P. Jaiswal, E. A. Kellogg, K. Ilic, L. Vincent, S. Avraham, PFS, F. Zapata, L. Reiser, S. Y. Rhee, M. M. Sachs, M. Schaeffer, L. Stein, D. Ware and S. McCouch.) Whole plant growth stage ontology for angiosperms and its application in plant biology. Plant Physiol. 142: 414-428.

2006c. (K. Ilic, E. A. Kellogg, P. Jaiswal, F. Zapata, PFS, L. P. Vincent, S. Avraham, L. Reiser, A. Pujar, M. M. Sachs, N. T. Whitman, S. R. McCouch, M. L. Schaeffer, D. H. Ware, L. D. Stein and S. Y. Rhee.) Plant structure ontology. Unified vocabulary of anatomy and morphology of a flowering plant. Plant Physiol. 143: 587-599.

2006c. Clusiaceae-Guttiferae, pp. 48-66, and Hypericaceae, pp. 194-201, in K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Volume IX. Flowering Plants. Eudicots. Berberidopsidales, Buxales, Crossosomatales.... Springer, Berlin.

2006d. (A. L. Weitzman, K. Kubitzki & PFS.) Bonnetiaceae. Pp. 36-39, in K. Kubitzki (ed.), The Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Volume IX. Flowering Plants. Eudicots. Berberidopsidales, Buxales, Crossosomatales.... Springer, Berlin.

2007. (E. Haston, J. E. Richardson, PFS, M. W. Chase & D. J. Harris.) A linear sequence of Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II families. Taxon 56: 7-12.

2008. (S. Avraham, C. W. Tung, K. Ilic, P. Jaiswal, E. A. Kellogg, S. McCouch, A. Pujar, L. Reiser, S. Y. Rhee, M. M. Sachs, M. Schaeffer, L. Stein, PFS, L. Vincent, F. Zapata & D. Ware.) The Plant Ontology Database: A community resource for plant structure and developmental stages controlled vocabulary and annotations. Nucleic Acids Res. 36 (database issue): D449-D454.

Textbook:

1999. (W.S. Judd, C. S. Campbell, E.A. Kellogg & PFS.). 1999. Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach. Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass.

2002. (W.S. Judd, C. S. Campbell, E.A. Kellogg, PFS & M. J. Donoghue.) Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, ed. 2. Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass.

2008 [2007]. (W.S. Judd, C. S. Campbell, E.A. Kellogg, PFS & M. J. Donoghue.) Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, ed. 3. Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass.

Website:

2001 onwards. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website.
[This is archived annually, but updated and added to - e.g. hundreds of maps, starting in 2005; gymnosperms in 2006; a section for students took most of 2007 to finish - constantly.]

Book Reviews:

1990. Histoire du concept d'espèce dans les sciences de la vie, by Scott Atran et al. ... J. Arnold Arbor. 71: 139-142.


1991. Keng, Hsuan. The concise flora of Singapore... Taxon 40: 163-164.

1992a. Marc Ereshevsky, The units of evolution: Essays on the nature of species... J. Hist. Biol. 25: 500-501.

1992b. Companion to the history of modern science. - R. C. Olby [et al.]... Plants, animals and formulae. - Dirk Stemerding... Reading the shape of nature. - Mary P. Winsor.... Syst. Biol. 41: 395-397.

1992c. Evolutionary Trends in Flowering Plants by Armen Takhtajan... Syst. Bot. 17: 508.

1993. Duris, Pascal. Linné et la France (1780-1890)... Taxon 42: 938.

1994a. Overfield, Richard A. Science with practice: Charles E. Bessey and the maturing of American biology... ASPT Newsletter 8(1): 26-27.

1994b. Ray Desmond. The European discovery of the Indian flora..., James L. Reveal. Gentle conquest: The botanical discovery of North America... Isis 85: 531-533.

1994c. Ethnobiological classification... B. Berlin. Syst. Biol. 43: 293-295.

1996 [1997a]. Tree flora of Sabah and Sarawak, Volume 1 edited by S. Soepadmo and K. M. Wong... Syst. Bot. 21: 623-624.

1997b. Naming tropical trees. TREE 2: 160. [Review of R. Keller, Identification of Tropical Woody Plants in the Absence of Flowers and Fruits: A field guide.]

1997c. A multitude of botanies: Book essay. Arnoldia 56(4): 25-27. [Review of A. B. Shteir, Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science: Flora's Daughters and Botany in England 1760 to 1860.]

2000. Robert A. Wilson (ed.), Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays … J. Hist. Biol. 33: 404-407.

2002. Mark Ereshefsky, The Poverty of the Linnaean Hierarchy: A Philosophical Study of Biological Taxonomy… J. Hist. Biol. 34: 600-602.

2004. Augustin-Pyramus de Candolle, Memoires et Souvenirs (1878-1841), Jean-Daniel Candaux and Jean-Marc Drouin, eds., … J. Hist. Biol. 37: 603-604.

2005. Systematic botany of flowering plants, 2nd edn. Spichiger R-E, Savolainen V, Figeat M, Jeanmond D. eds. … Ann. Bot. 96: 1331-1332.

2006. Phylogeny and Evolution of Angiosperms, By D. E. Soltis, ... Int. J. Plant Sci. 167: 607-611.

2007. Jarvis, Charlie. May 2007. Order out of Chaos: Linnaean plant names and their types... Taxon 56: 1315-1316.

Other:

2001. Taxonomy, history of. Pp. 103-105, in R. Robinson (ed), Plant Sciences. Macmillan.

2002a. George Bentham, 1800-1884. New Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

2002b. Money, morphology and molecules. [Comment and opinion.] Edinburgh J. Bot. 59: 451-457.

2003. Monocotyledons. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. Wiley & Sons.