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The Future of Botanical Monography: Report from an international workshop, 12–16 March 2012, Smolenice, Slovak Republic
Iliyana Kuzmova

Monographs are fundamental for progress in systematic  botany. They are the vehicles for circumscribing and naming taxa, determining distributions and ecology,  assessing  relationships for formal classification, and interpreting long-term  and short-term  dimensions of the evolutionary process. Despite their importance, fewer monographs are now being prepared by the newer generation  of systematic  botanists, who are understandably involved principally with DNA data and analysis, especially for answering  phylogenetic, biogeographic, and population  genetic questions.  As monographs provide  hypotheses regarding species  boundaries and plant relationships, new insights  in many plant groups  are urgently  needed.  Increasing  pressures  on biodiversity, especially in tropical and developing regions of the world, emphasize this point. The results from a workshop (with 21 participants) reaffirm  the central role that monographs play in systematic  botany. But, rather than advocating abbreviated models  for monographic products,  we recommend a full presentation of relevant  information. Electronic  publication offers numerous  means of illustration of taxa, habitats, characters, and statistical and phylogenetic analyses, which previously  would have been prohibitively costly. Open Access and semantically enhanced  linked electronic  publications provide instant access to content from anywhere  in the world, and at the same time link this content to all underlying data and digital resources  used in the work.  Resources  in support  of monography, especially  databases  and widely  and easily  accessible  digital  literature and specimens, are now more powerful  than ever before, but interfacing and interoperability of databases  are much needed. Priorities  for new resources  to be developed  include an index of type collections and an online global chromosome database. Funding  for sabbaticals for monographers to work uninterrupted on major projects  is strongly  encouraged. We recommend that doctoral  students  be assigned  smaller  genera,  or natural  portions  of larger  ones (subgenera, sections,  etc.), to gain the necessary expertise for producing a monograph, including training in a broad array of data collection (e.g., morphology, anatomy, palynology, cytogenetics, DNA techniques, ecology, biogeography), data analysis (e.g., statistics,  phylogenetics, models), and nomenclature. Training programs, supported by institutes, associations, and agencies, provide means for passing on procedures and perspectives of challenging botanical  monography to the next generation  of young systematists.

Source: Crespo, A., Crisci, J.V., Dorr, L.J., Ferencová, Z., Frodin, D., Geltman, D.V., Kilian, N., Linder, H.P., Lohmann, L.G., Oberprieler, C., Penev, L., Smith, G.F., Thomas, W., Tulig, M., Turland, N. & Zhang, X.-C. 2013. The Future of Botanical Monography: Report from an international workshop, 12–16 March 2012, Smolenice, Slovak Republic. Taxon 62: 4–20.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No 312848